Chrystal on how she became an opera singer, and about singing the role of Charlotte in Werther for the first time.
THE BEGINNING: I always sang, but never thought, "I am going to be a singer one day!" I have always wanted to help others, but it wasn't until I started at The Governor's School for the Arts (GSA) in Virginia that I settled on how. I originally wanted to teach English / Language to grade school children because I felt, and still feel, that teachers have great influence on our world’s citizens. My next choice was a psychologist/middle school guidance counselor, for similar reasons. Then came biologist my sophomore year of high school - I figured I could help mankind by finding cures for unknown ailments! Mind you, I had still been singing all the while. GSA took a trip to New York City and I remember being glued to the floor listening to Leontyne Price sing on one of the monitors in Tower Records. I asked the head of the program how I could help people and still sing. He said I could help them THROUGH the music. This is what I've been trying to do ever since. One way I have found to help is through the Chrystal E. Williams Scholarship I founded in 2004 to help students wishing to pursue a career in the performing arts. This scholarship is funded in part by my annual concert, "An Evening with Chrystal E.”
DREAMS DO COME TRUE: I fell in love with Werther years ago. It all started with a man named Massenet. His music stole my heart and wouldn't let it go. He is, after all, the Puccini for mezzo-soprani. Ha! But, truthfully, his music itself has a soul. It is full of profound harmonies and intriguing rhythmic patterns that create intensely mesmerizing drama. It reaches me deep within and makes me want to pour out something I didn't realize I had. Music is a gift, and I believe we are called to share it. Massenet shared his gift in such a way, that I wasn't even aware I was receiving it. His music permeates the mind, body, and soul. It fills you with the lives of the characters, reminding you of your own experiences. No, not the same scenario, but you all the same. I sang the role of Charlotte in parts of Act III while in graduate school, and have been itching to complete the role ever since. Ahhhhh, excited doesn't even begin to express my state of being!
PREPARING A DREAM ROLE: Is probably the hardest type to prepare. Ha! The expectations are enormous, and those are just coming from myself! I've heard Charlotte in my head for years just as I believe the role 'should be.’ Preparing it is like trying to compete with a legendary recording. We are our own worst critics, and never has the saying been more true. But, the joy and elation of bringing this character I've only dreamed about for so many years to life is a good balance, as I have learned that those legendary recordings were made by artists committing to doing what they could on that day, and not dwelling on what they should be able to do or would be able to do later. The role of Charlotte is hard in its own right: stamina, endurance, tessitura, legato, heightened drama not hindering the throat, complex character, pure language, you name it. But when it comes to performance, great artists give what they have and don't apologize for what they don't. Mind you, they have A LOT already, but that virtue says something to me. They communicate. They share. They give. Besides, challenge brings about growth, and I love growing my art! I pray I do justice to Massenet's music. I pray I do justice to the gift that is music! Let's go, Team Werther 2017!
Special thanks to our friends at Baltimore Concert Opera!
Werther in Concert at OperaDelaware Studios (4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington, DE)
Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 pm
Tickets start at $29; Box Office: 302-442-7807; operaDE.org/tickets