Fresh from playing Juliet in Roméo et Juliette at the Opera Grand Rapids in Grand Rapids, MI, Soprano, Sarah Joy Miller is preparing to play the role of Juliet in the Lyric Opera Baltimore‘s production of Roméo et Juliette playing for one weekend only, May 13 and 15, 2016. (Use code “LOVE” for 25% off tickets.)
Sarah Joy Miller’s professional operatic debut was in the 2003 Broadway production of La bohème. It was there that she met tenor David Miller, playing star-crossed lovers Mimì and Rodolfo respectively. In 2009 they married.
In 2013, Miss Miller performed with the New York City Opera and BAM in the title role of Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Miss Miller has taken the time to answer a few questions about singing, music, and her upcoming performance of Roméo et Juliette with Lyric Opera Baltimore.
MDTG: At what age did you first realize that you had a love of singing? When did you realize that you wanted to make singing your career?
SJM: I grew up in a large family full of Country singers and I actually don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. In seventh grade I saw a flyer in my choir room advertising “opera singing lessons” from a student at USC. The idea of singing over an orchestra without a microphone captivated my interest and I began studying opera for the rest of that year. Since then I have studied with many different teachers in several genres, and I have learned something from every one of them. The unfolding of a voice is a journey, and it is never really over. For years I couldn’t wait till I arrived and I had it all figured out, but now I realize there is always more! I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to perform. I have never encountered something I love to do half as much!
MDTG: You have been singing pieces from Romeo and Juliet since you were 14 years old. I guess it is meant to be that you would finally play the role of Juliet. In fact, you are fresh from performing the role of Juliet at the Opera Grand Rapids. What is it about the character and the music that attracts you to this role?
SJM: Yes, “Juliette’s Waltz” was the first aria I was given to learn when I was 14. At the time, I knew nothing of what it meant, or even how to go about singing it, but I was tremendously moved by the sound of operatic singing from the moment I first heard it. It means a great deal to me to sing this role. It’s an honor to sing this beautiful music, to be given the chance to bring my own voice to what Gounod wrote so beautifully. There’s something sacred about performing the music of a composer that is no longer living. You cannot ask them what they would like here or there, you must read carefully over and over what is in the text and the music and hope to see clearly their intention while also bringing your self to the character. It’s somewhat of a balancing act but also one of the most satisfying parts of singing opera. Juliet is an extremely satisfying character to play. She has quite a journey from young, innocent girl, to one who loves another so much she is willing to take enormous chances and ultimately sacrifice her life. Her courage is inspiring and I love getting to live her on the stage.
MDTG: Your love of music also extends to song writing. You co-wrote two songs of the album called “Three Graces” with the original tracks titled “I Wish” and “Don’t Let Me Forget.”
SJM: I have been fortunate to have a varied career so far and song writing for an album I was part of was a great experience. As a child, I wrote poems and songs, played piano, wrote plays and musicals – much like many artists. But of course, there comes a time when we specialize, becoming focused in one direction in the hopes we can really excel. It’s always fun to revisit other artistic channels, and remember that although I am an opera singer, I am at the most basic level an artist with the basic urge to create.
MDTG: Why should audiences come out to see this production of ‘Roméo et Juliette‘?
SJM: This is a beautiful retelling of the classic Shakespearean tale with some of the most beautiful music in the repertoire. With everything going on in the world, the story of Romeo and Juliet reminds us of how powerful love can be.