Bethany Brautigam - Biography Q&A
Where are you from?
I’m from a small town in Indiana, about 3 hours from here! I’ve been living in Chicago for 5 years now and I LOVE it!
Which character are you portraying and do you identify with him or her at all in your own life?
I’m portraying Mimi, which is an absolute dream musically, and a character I’d actually like to be more like! I admire her because she finds pleasure in the simple things in life, and she values people more than things. Her greatest joy is in the first bloom of spring and the company of her friends. In my busy life, it’s a nice reminder to literally stop and smell the roses!
What appeals to you about working with Windy City Opera?
I just finished my Master’s degree, so I’m in that scary nebulous world between student and professional. The opportunity to sing a big role like this in a low-pressure situation is a young singer’s dream! I like being in on the groundwork of a new company and helping to reshape the face of opera. I think we need more opera that leaves the big, fancy theater and comes to the people in small spaces where they can be a part of the action and really engage with the singers.
What’s something about opera that fascinates you?
So many things! First of all, it’s the Olympics of singing. If you think about the effort it takes for an athlete to get to the Olympic level with their sport, that’s what singers have to do to train their voices to make this music sound so beautiful and moving. The stories are timeless too—no matter what kind of story you like, you can find an opera that tells it. It captures profound human experiences and translates them into beautiful, heartbreaking, awe-inspiring music. What more could anyone want?
When did you know performing opera was what you wanted to do with your life?
I actually discovered opera in college. Being from a small town, I had never experienced opera, but I was always in musicals and choirs (show choir!). In college, I was a journalism major that missed singing, so I wandered into an audition for The Mikado hoping to sing in the chorus and got cast as Yum-Yum! Once I started singing opera, I found my home. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not involved with singing or preparing a role?
I’m passionate about health and wellness, and I have my own online wellness coaching business! I help people get healthy through fitness challenges, nutrition plans, and a general camaraderie with an online support group. It’s very rewarding to empower people and see them transform their lives! I’m also a fan of cooking and Netflix marathons in the winter.
What did you think of the first opera that you saw/heard?
It’s pretty ironic, but I actually did not like my first opera! I was only 10, and the opera was in English with no supertitles, so it was actually very difficult to understand! It was La Traviata, and I just remember thinking it took a long time for her to die! Now that is one of my dream roles. Life is funny like that!
What music has inspired you recently – opera or otherwise?
I love the band, Over the Rhine, a folk duo out of Ohio. Their songs are deep and heartfelt, and connect with my spirit. They come to Chicago every year, and I’m always there!
Did you have an experience related to singing, while stressful or unexpected at the time, you now find amusing?
Opera in the Ozarks is a wonderful festival, but definitely one with nature. There was a particular performance of Into the Woods that several bats decided they wanted to be part of the cast. It’s really difficult not to break character when a bat flies right in front of your face in the middle of your song!
Do you sing to your pets? If so, do they enjoy it?
I don’t have any pets, but I was cat sitting for a friend recently and I scared the cats with my practicing! They hid under the couch!
Have you ever worn a stage costume outside of the theater?
No way! That’s bad luck! Theater people are very superstitious!
If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be…
Can I pick two? I just want to spend a day with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, I would choose…
This may sound cheesy, but I’m pretty happy being me right now! I’d rather experience new things as me than as anyone else!
Tell us a secret.
I’m a ninja.