Olivia Leigh Biddle

Olivia has been studying classical voice for the past eleven years. It has become not only a career path, but a passion. She truly loves  to be able to portray the music in such ways that it not only touches her heart, but those who listen. Conveying the passion that originally inspired the composers to write such beautiful melodies is one of her most important goals while singing.

Olivia has not only performed in numerous stage and opera productions, but has competed in several vocal competitions over the past years. Including, being a National Finalist at the 2005 National Opera Association Vocal Competition in New York City. In 2004 Olivia was a State, Southwest Division and National Finalist at the Music Teachers National Association Vocal Competition as well as a Metropolitan Opera National Council District Finalist. She has been the recipient of awards from The National Association of Teachers of Singing and a recipient of scholarships from Southern Utah University, Florida Atlantic University and The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England.

In the summer of 2005 Olivia was awarded a scholarship to attend the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. This was a wonderful opportunity for her.  During AIMS she was educated not only in voice, but stage artistry, audition preparation and the German language, as well as diction in French, Italian and Czech.

Not only has Olivia had opportunities to perform as a soloist in the United States and Scotland, she has also performed in Mexico and numerous countries throughout Europe.  Each performance was a fulfilling and wonderful experience that she will carry with her for years to come.

Olivia has performed solo works as well as choral works. In addition to her opera chorus work, she has performed with the Utah Ambassadors of Music, as well as The Southern California Mormon Choir and her University Choirs. Olivia has also had the opportunity to work with Children with Special Needs in respect to introducing them to different kinds of music as a form of education and communication.

Olivia Is currently studying with Deborah Rees at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. She looks forward to receiving a Master of Music Performance in 2009.

The Passion of the Opera

Each person has that one defining moment in their life that they can trace back and know that, that was the moment they began the road to becoming the person they are now. For me that moment took place in what is commonly known as the “city of love”.  Paris, France is not the “city of love” for me in the way that you might think.  For me the love is the love of opera. I’ve always loved music.  In fact it was music that took me to the land of the Eiffel Tower and set the summer of 1999 as the moment that would define the rest of my life.

I was on concert tour with The Utah Ambassadors of Music. When I look back now the tour itself was not that grand of a concert tour.  It was a group of 100 recently graduated high school students that were either singing or playing some sort instrument.   It was the places we visited on tour hat influenced us the most. The third city we visited was Paris.  We performed in a park and in a little cathedral off the beaten path in the Greek district.  I wouldn’t even be able to find the cathedral again that is how hidden it was. During our free time however we got to go wherever we wanted to go, so long as it was not the Moulin Rouge.  After our visit to London and the original Hard Rock Café it became an unspoken mandate to visit the rest of the Hard Rock Cafés along the way.  The day that we were in Paris was different for me.  While 90 of those involved in the tour headed to Hard Rock the rest of us headed to the world famous Paris Opera House. Made most famous by the legend of The Phantom of the Opera this place holds magic. It is the magic of music and mystery.

Walking through the doors into the Grand Hall was like walking back in time to an era of grand evening gowns and gentlemen in their finest.  The structure demands respect as do the nonverbal voices of past patrons.  As I climbed the grand staircase the excitement and the realization of where I was began to set into my heart.  All of a sudden I longed to hear an orchestra tuning for a performance of a great opera.  It did not matter which one since at this point in my life I was not familiar with many. 

Exploration of this grand edifice took me to the infamous box five (which is kept locked for obvious reasons due to its place in the legend) and then further into the depths of the building until light, or lack of it, did not permit me to go any further. It was then, when I was trying to find my way back from where I had come, that I made a wrong turn that would change my life forever.  I walked through a small door that led to what looked to be a library.  Yes, it was definitely a library, but not of novels.  It was a library of librettos and scores of operas that dated back to the 1700’s.  There were first editions of Rigoletto as well as other great masterpieces.  This collection of music had been in the hands of great artists throughout time, people I had only heard stories of when I visited my grandmother.  I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the day thumbing through the continuous pages of pure genius.  Of course if this had been allowed over the years the bindings would be falling to pieces, so, after many moments in complete awe, I moved on with my exploration. 

I continued through the ballroom where many a celebration has taken place.  Suddenly in my head there were imagined scenes of beautiful dancing and social mingling of the most influential and elite in society. There were smiles on every imagined face in the room, as the sopranos and tenors were planning their mid-night rendezvous.  It was again pure magic.  I was then off to the most magnificent of all the areas I was to see that day.

The theater drew me into itself as I passed through the door of an unlocked box.  The detail of the gold leafed architecture and its surroundings were phenomenal.  The stage, to this point in my life, is still the most amazing of all the stages I have ever seen.  The chandelier gave off a light that was romantic and captivating. It was then that I realized that opera was not just a form of music, but an experience. I looked at the grand drape flowing across the proscenium and at that moment I knew that I wanted to perform on that stage, not just as a chorus girl, but as a principal in an operatic masterpiece.  I wanted the opportunity to open my mouth and have music come out that would touch the hearts of the patrons who had come to listen.  I wanted to sing!

 I left the Opera House that day in silence. In fact, I remember not saying much the rest of the day.  I was in pure harmony with life.  The feelings that I had felt that day were next to pure heaven.  I don’t think anyone else on the tour quite understood what had happened that day.

After returning home from Europe, I decided to focus on my music.  I would not be the history teacher that I thought would become, but rather a teacher of music through performance.  I knew what I must do in order to achieve my goal and at that point I was willing to do whatever it took.  I began to listen to opera, study opera and learn singing techniques that could carry me to where I wanted to go.  I traveled and went to different schools in order to gain the most from my education. I began to compete.  In order to do this, I realized I must know more than I thought I would ever need too.  I began studying the roles I was playing.  They became my friends and in some cases I became them.  I have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible through getting to know Mimi, Musetta, The Contessa, Änchen, Butterfly and others. I have learned lessons of love and life, passion and fear.  There is a part of each of them in me, as well as a part of me in each of them. When I listen to La Bohème my heart cries, when I listen to le Nozze de Figaro it laughs.

Though I have not yet achieved my goal of singing on the Paris Opera stage, I can see it in sight.  With each practice session I have or lesson I come out of I have a renewed sense of motivation.  I must work hard!  I must love the music and have respect for it.  I must continue to want to touch the hearts of people rather than just perform the music and get it over with.  It is the passion of the Opera that drives me each day.  It is that passion which I must focus on. It is not the one lost competition or the memory loss of lyrics during a performance.  It is those things that keep me humble and realizing that there is always more work to be done.  If I do that work however, I will be able to realize the dream of singing on one of the most magnificent stage in the world and come full circle to the day that I decided not to go to Hard Rock Café.