- March 4, 2019
Adelaide Boedecker stands poised at the precipice of the biggest moment of her career.
But first she has a homecoming performance to savor in Sarasota.
Boedecker, who will appear courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, will be the featured performer at the Choral Artists of Sarasota’s “A Night at the Opera” program on Feb. 20, and she’ll get to sing selections from The Marriage of Figaro with her husband Calvin Griffin. That’s a special moment for Boedecker, who began singing at Church of the Redeemer before she was even in school and was a member of the Youth Opera at age nine.
“It never gets old,” she says about her return. “Are you kidding? I love coming home.”
Boedecker made her professional debut right here with the Sarasota Opera at age 17.
But this time, Boedecker, who attended Pine View School for the Gifted, will only be home for one night.
She has to fly in the night before, get her bearings, sing her heart out and get right back on a plane the evening of her performance. But she has to be in that rush for a good reason; she’s presently engaged as cover for the role of Thibault in Don Carlos at The Met, which opens later this month.
The soprano does not know if she’ll get to make her Met debut as part of this production, but she knows that her huge moment could come with only the faintest advance notice.
“It’s not new, but it’s new because it’s The Met,” she says. “It’s what everybody in opera dreams about. It’s pretty exciting and it’s very surreal that I’m going to be there. ...The chance I’m going to go on is very high. That would be some way to make my Met debut, the moment where they’re like, ‘And you’re on!’”
Whenever that moment happens, it will be the culmination of a life in the arts.
Boedecker said she began singing at Church of the Redeemer when she was only two or three years old, and she credited Dr. Ann Stephenson-Moe and Dr. Daniel Moe for stoking her precocious talent.
That’s where she began loving music, she said, and she entered the Youth Opera after seeing her sister’s friend perform. Boedecker credited Maestro Victor DeRenzi and the staff at the Sarasota Youth Opera for helping her find her bearings and ultimately her voice.
“I don’t think I ever imagined really doing it as a job,” she says of her origins in opera. “I just knew I enjoyed that music. A nine-year-old doesn’t think about that stuff. It was probably when I was in high school when I thought, ‘This can never happen.’ And now it’s happening!”
It’s not just happening; it’s happening at home and with the love of her life, and it’s happening less than a week after Valentine’s Day.
Boedecker first saw her husband when she was a resident artist with the Pittsburgh Opera.
He came in to audition, and her heart immediately grew two sizes. Fate intervened later when both were pulled by their prodigious voices to perform with the Santa Fe Opera.
But if you ask Boedecker, they’d be married even if Griffin couldn’t sing at all.
“I got butterflies in my stomach right when I saw him, and really that’s only happened one other time in my life,” she says. “That time it had been because I saw a famous person, but this was totally different. Calvin walked in and I couldn’t speak; I knew that was my soulmate.
“He remembered me. About four months later we were both in Santa Fe. If you meet Calvin, he’s really good with faces but won’t remember a name off the top of his head. He’s super duper smart with faces. He came right up to me and said, ‘You’re Addy. I remember you from Pittsburgh.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ We were actually really good friends first. It’s an apprenticeship program; you’re spending all your time together. It blossomed. We both had crushes on each other the whole time, but we got to know each other really well.”
That palpable chemistry will come in handy on Feb. 20, when they perform selections from The Marriage of Figaro for the first time on stage; but not for the first time as a couple. Boedecker says that she and Griffin sing all the time together when they’re not touring separately.
But before their Choral Artists program, you’d have to live next to them to have heard them.
“We do that all the time. We’re a very musical home,” she says. “We’re kind of always singing stuff together which is probably very annoying for our neighbors. But we don’t mind."
Griffin, a bass-baritone, made his Met debut in "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" in 2021, so he's well acquainted with the milestone Boedecker is about to achieve. But here in Sarasota, they won't get to rehearse together before they go on due to the compressed nature of the bill, and Boedecker says that really doesn't matter.
"I feel super comfortable and I’m getting to do most of it with Calvin," she says. "There’s no stress there because we’re a team. That’s kind of the beauty of when we get to perform together. There are no nerves because I know no matter what happens, my biggest source of support is right there."
Ironically, if Boedecker wasn’t able to make this performance, she literally might’ve gone a couple months without seeing her husband. The nature of their respective careers means that both Boedecker and Griffin are constantly on the road singing in different markets.That means that their Date Night is frequently conducted over FaceTime.
Boedecker and Griffin will make the same meal and then cue up Netflix and watch the same program. They sing together not on FaceTime but by sending each other voice memos from across the country.
“We are so fortunate,” she says. “I think about all the people that brought me up in music. When they had to travel, it was before FaceTime and cell phones and long distance plans. It’s just so different. I was talking to my teacher and she and her husband, he was in Germany and she was working in San Francisco. They would spend thousands of dollars on two-minute phone calls once a week. It was just insane amounts of money.”
Enter the Choral Artists, who offered the performers an opportunity they couldn’t refuse.
It’s their chance to perform one of their favorite operas together in front of the people they love. Boedecker said that Griffin's family is coming to town from Kentucky, giving the couple an extra large supporting section.
“My whole family is here," she says. "Usually it’s a family affair. My family is really, really supportive. And Calvin’s whole family is too. We’ve got our built-in cheer team when we do things in my hometown.”
Joseph Holt, artistic director of the Choral Artists of Sarasota, is part of that cheer team. Holt said he had to rearrange the schedule to ensure that Boedecker could perform, and he was thrilled to be able to do that.
The program, says Holt, offers a number of exciting selections.
There’s an overture penned by a young Mozart on the bill, and Holt said he was excited to present a couple pieces by William Grant Still, one of the premier African-American composers of the last century.
Most of all, though, Holt says he's proud to perform with Boedecker right before her artistic milestone.
“When the Met comes calling, you don’t want to miss it,” he says. “That’s such a huge jump for her.”