Q&A with Michelle DeYoung


A woman with blonde, curly hair, wearing blue stares at the camera

By Jennifer Colgan

On March 30, Opera Colorado is proud to partner with the Robert and Judi Newman Center to present a recital featuring Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung accompanied by pianist Cody Guy Garrison. The program features gorgeous songs by Mahler, Korngold, Zeisl, and Duparc. Don’t miss this one-night-only event! We recently got a chance to ask Michelle a few questions about her program and more. Learn about the inspiration behind her song choices, her love of teaching, and why performing in Colorado is so special to this Loveland native.

Tell us about your program for this recital. What was the inspiration? How did you come up with it?

Sheet music for Die tote Stadt
Music for Die tote Stadt (The Dead City)
Photo: Jamie Kraus

I always try to put together a well-rounded and interesting program of music that is complementary but different. The Korngold songs were added because Opera Colorado is doing Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), so Greg Carpenter and I thought it would be interesting to make that connection and add his beautiful songs. The Zeisl songs I recorded with Jeremy Reger for Naxos, and they were recently discovered at UCLA archives. Zeisl’s grandson, Randall Schoenberg, wanted them all recorded. They are gems and need to be heard and sung.

You perform in a variety of formats, from recitals to orchestral concerts to operas. What are the main differences between each, both in preparation and performance? Do you have a favorite?

I can’t say I have a favorite format. When I am performing one way, I think that is my favorite. They all have so many different unique aspects. A recital is very intimate, vulnerable, and somehow more personal. One needs a very good collaborator to create the atmosphere and music they want to realize. An opera is fulfilling from the beginning of rehearsals to the last performance. Each moment of the process is interesting and exciting (if you are with a good team). It is also so much fun to work with other singers. Orchestral work is my passion. I love singing concerts because I love symphonic works. There are no costumes or sets to hide behind, it’s all you. It’s a huge challenge but incredibly fulfilling.

In addition to your extensive performing career, you teach and lead masterclasses. Why is music education important?

I believe singers should have a very solid technique, on which to build a great musicianship. For the most part, we don’t use microphones, so we need to train to sing in a way that can carry over a 150-piece (or more) orchestra, to the back of the hall. Also, healthy singing leads to a longer career.

What is special about performing here in Colorado?

A tan building with the Opera Colorado logo on the ground in front
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver

Having grown up mostly in Loveland, Colorado, it is always very special for me to sing in Colorado. Also, my parents and three sisters live there, so this gives them an opportunity to come to my performances. I remember in high school, we had a field trip to Denver to see a play. It had such an impact on me. I dreamt of one day singing in Denver, which now, of course, I have had the opportunity to do many times.

What do you like doing when you are not singing?

My favorite thing to do is go deep-sea fishing. I have gone to many places, but my favorite is in the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. It is the only time I jump out of bed at 5:00 a.m.!

What is your favorite quote?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

—Martha Graham


Michelle DeYoung performed in this special one-night-only concert on March 30, 2023. Tickets for this event are no longer available.

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