I feel an instant connection to Kara Shay Thomson. Everyone likes to feel special, and Kara Shay has a way about her of making one feel like the most important person in the room. She comes across as completely sincere, and within seconds we’ve established such a great rapport that I end up taking four pages of notes for my half-page article, and she is rushed away to rehearsal before I feel like I’ve spent enough time with her. Kara is the star of this season’s American Classic, Vanessa by Samuel Barber, in which she plays an aging aristocrat pining for lost love.
Dining Diva: Why should we come to see this opera?
Kara Shay Thomson: I think it is the best example of an American opera because the plot is recognizable but still fresh, the score is untraditional and the writing is incredibly compelling. There’s something very immediate about the style of this opera---it’s so real that you find yourself on the edge of your seat, longing and hoping along with the performers.
DD: When did you start your singing career?
KST: I am a preacher’s child and I began my singing career in the church choir at a very young age. (Her first solo was at the age of two!) I wanted to be the queen of contemporary Christian music and opera was not even on my radar. My first experience with opera was the first opera that I performed in. I was so green that conductor threw his baton at me, but I fell in love with it.
DD: You’ve been to Sarasota before---what do you enjoy about performing here?
KST: I love that during rehearsal I can come outside and steal 10 minutes of sunshine. I love Lido Beach. There’s a big connection between Sarasota and Ohio (where I’m from), and I feel like this is my home away from home. My seven-year-old daughter and I like to be in the water when the sun sets because we believe that the water is imbued with magical powers when the sun hits it.
DD: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
DD: What would you do if you weren’t an opera singer?
KST: I would like to teach young children.
There’s hardly any time left to see Kara Shay Thomson perform in Vanessa, so book your tickets now: http://www.sarasotaopera.org