FAIRFIELD — Rachel Deatherage has her sights set on Europe – Germany, in particular.
The longtime Vacaville resident will depart in early March for a three-month adventure that she hopes will result in her first professional opera contract or a spot in an opera studio program.
The 24-year-old will perform Sunday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. The show is a way to thank family and friends who have helped her along the way. Those attending will also have the chance to give her some financial support via a freewill offering.
The show is all about Mozart, who was born on Jan. 27. Deatherage hopes to see the composer’s home in Austria.
“I think I’ll cry tears of joy when I see it,” she said.
The Buckingham Charter Magnet High School graduate attended American River College and then Sonoma State University. Deatherage contemplated graduate school, but was encouraged by her voice teacher, Dietrich Erbelding, to start performing. Europe was the logical choice. Opera houses are more plentiful across the Atlantic.
“It’s a better place to gain experience,” Deatherage said.
Government subsidies help fund the European companies, she said.
Europeans see opera like Americans view the Super Bowl, Deatherage said.
Her first voice teacher, Elaine Reynolds-Smith, suggested she considered opera.
“I was 14,” Deatherage said. “Opera was in another language.”
Then, she saw a production of “Eugene Onegin.” There were supertitles, which is a written translation of the lyrics shown on a screen above the performers. Deatherage discovered a new passion. Now she’s sharing that passion with her friends, including her boyfriend, who travels to San Francisco to purchase standing room tickets for San Francisco Opera shows.
Friends tell her they really don’t care for opera, but will come see her show. Then tell her they like it, Deatherage said. She understands. She didn’t see her first opera until she was in college.
Her favorite opera is “Don Giovanni.” She dreams of playing Fiordiligi in “Cosi fan tutte” or Mimi in “La Boheme.”
“She gets to die on stage,” Deatherage said of the latter.
She would like to see opera become more popular in the United States. Deatherage said many people still envision large women in the title roles, singing in a foreign language. It’s quite the opposite. Supertitles are used and “ripped” males are common place, she said.
Deatherage is taking a positive approach to the trip. If things don’t go as she hoped, she knows she’ll come home with a wealth of auditioning experience. And she will have three months of brushing up on German. Then there’s always Broadway.
“It’s different vocals,” she said of Broadway and opera. “I think it’s more challenging in opera.”
She has two more recitals, Feb. 2 in Oakland and Feb. 23 in San Francisco. Details can be found at www.facebook.com/RachelJDeatherage.
Local residents will recognize her from appearances with the Solano Symphony. Twice Deatherage won the symphony’s Young Artist competition. She was also featured in the Wednesday Club’s Young Artist concert series.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.