Lucia Lucas. (Twitter)
American opera singer Lucia Lucas has made history by becoming the first trans singer to perform with the English National Opera in London.
Lucas, 38, played Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld alongside the English National Opera on October 5 at the London Coliseum.
In a BBC video, Lucas described how she dresses as a man, including a stick-on moustache, when she performs – to match her baritone voice.
“If I’m out on the street I’m probably going to talk higher on the spectrum than I normally do,” she said.
“But if I want to be able to sing my baritone wrap, especially if I’m singing some bass baritone wrap, I need to have access to those lower notes,” Lucas said.
Lucas, who began transitioning in 2013, was unsure if doing so would affect her career. So she spoke to an opera manager and said, “I enjoy my job, I’d love to keep being here, but I need to do this.”
“At that moment,” she said, “it was like I was ready to just give it up.”
Lucas described how she is one of the first known trans opera singers to continue working.
“So he said: ‘How does this work? Who’s done it before?’ And I said: ‘Well nobody’s done it before, not really, not like this.’
“And he said: ‘Okay, so just one question… What happens with your voice?’
“And I said: ‘It doesn’t change, I’ve done my research on that, and for better or worse, it doesn’t change.”
Lucas said that this was “obviously better” in terms of her keeping her job – “because I got hired to sing baritone”.
“And he said: ‘OK well that’s a private deal and we’ll see how it goes.’”
Lucas ended by saying, “I’ve always been acting, but now I just do it on stage.”
Lucas previously made history when she was the first trans singer to play the main role in a standard operatic work in the US, when she played Don Giovanni for Tulsa Opera in Oklahoma.