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From Centralia To The Met: Opera Singers 'Weren't All Raised At Lincoln Center'

Faye Fox
The soprano Angela Meade grew up in Centralia, and is now an acclaimed soprano performing on some of the world's most prestigious stages.

Angela Meade thought, when she was growing up in Centralia, that she might be a doctor.

“I was going to Centralia College, [taking] lots of math and science classes, and I was sort of hating it,” she said. “So as my elective I would go and take music classes. I would sing in the choir, and I was taking music theory – because I’m a nerd, apparently – as an elective.”

The choir teacher told her she had a great voice, and asked if she’d ever considered voice lessons. The teacher recommended voice teacher Wayne Bloomingdale, in Olympia. He gave her some opera music.

“I went home and I learned them and I came back the next week, and he was like, ‘These are really good. You sound like an opera singer,’ and I was like, ‘What does that mean?’” she said.

Today, Angela Meade is an acclaimed soprano. She made her professional debut in 2008 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and has performed all over the world.

She'll be home early next year to sing the role of Leonora in the Verdi opera Il Trovatore at Seattle Opera in January.

Interview Highlights

On Making Her Debut At The Met: “They told me about 24 hours before I went on that I would be stepping in, so I had to make all those arrangements for my parents to come out, and called friends, and all that stuff. … Not until after it was over did all those good, warm feelings sort of take hold. Before that it was just, ‘I have to do my job!’”

On Attending The Opera: “I don’t go a tremendous amount. Isn’t that terrible? … People expect that I live in the theater constantly. I like to go and watch other people sing the rep[ertoire] that I do, to get different perspective.”

On Growing Up In Centralia: “I don’t know if people are different based on where they grew up. I think your family probably shapes that more than anything. I don’t know if it would matter if I’d grown up in Los Angeles versus Centralia. Everybody’s always like, ‘How can you be an opera singer from Centralia?’ Well, the people who sing opera have got to be from somewhere. They weren’t all raised in Lincoln Center. … I don’t think people think it’s condescending, they just equate it with themselves and they think how could I possibly be from a small town? Everybody who’s famous has come from a big city. Well, that’s not true.”


This story is part of "KNKX Connects," our project bringing you stories from across western Washington. It aired as part of a special broadcast of All Things Considered, live from Chehalis, on Aug. 30, 2018.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.