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Music, especially singing, has been a part of my life since I learned to speak: Disney songs, cartoons, the radio. As a child, I sang constantly. I was carefree. However, as I grew up, I became self-conscious and shy. The thought of being heard by others stifled my confidence and care-free nature. I suppressed my love for music and singing.

My mother always knew I had a gift for music and singing, but unfortunately, my fear of being heard prevented me from pursuing this avenue. While in middle school, it seemed out of the blue, my mom enrolled me in a program called Sarasota Youth Opera. She told me we were going somewhere new; consequently, I didn’t question her because she often planned mom-daughter field trips. However, this trip was different.

We drove up to the building with a large green sign reading “Opera House,” and I started to panic. I was hesitant but walked into the building, and a kind man welcomed us. We went back into the office and met two directors.

I was terrified. I was so angry at my mom for not telling me beforehand. My mind was racing! One of the directors asked me if I could sing a song, and I panicked. I began to cry, but he comforted me and told me that it was okay to be nervous.

I was so angry, embarrassed, and scared. One of the girls requested me to sit and watch the rehearsal. I was still nervous, but having the opportunity to listen comforted me. Rehearsal started, so I sat down next to Illaria; she was friendly, kind, and calmed my nerves. I wasn’t expecting more than a typical school choir. Instantly, I was in awe. It was evident that the group of performers was dedicated, and I wanted nothing more than to be a part of this program. At the end of the rehearsal, I ran to my mom with the biggest grin on my face. All of my nerves subsided, and I felt inspired; all of my love for music flooded back instantly!

When we arrived home, I talked to my mom about the rehearsal and decided I would join the program. The next week I received my score (a book with the music for performance) and was placed in my voice type. Over the next two months leading up to the shows, I became more comfortable with acting, singing, and performing. I even began to make friends. Once summer camp arrived, I began to refine my skills and developed confidence; I felt comfortable. The Opera House felt like a second home and my friends like family. Music always surrounded me, and I began to embrace the world of classical theater.

In the fall of 2019, I performed my second stage show and auditioned for one of the classic professional operas. Witnessing my hard work pay off through our performances was surreal. The show had a strong message of acceptance and equality. The crowd response was wonderful; we received a standing ovation. There are hardly any words to describe how amazing it feels to pursue my love for music and with that bring an audience such joy.

If I had not built up the courage to join the Opera House, I would never have met my closest friends and discovered my passion. I am now part of the youth chorus in La Boheme. I am so grateful to live in a city immersed in the arts, which has allowed me to gain passion and respect for classical music and theater. I am eager to continue to grow and pursue my aspirations in the arts.

© Charlotte Buckley. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.

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