Shakespeare said that all the world’s a stage, and that’s certainly the case for Ariana Douglas ’13. After finishing her career at UW–Madison on a high note, this Badger earned a master’s in vocal performance from Louisiana State University (LSU). Douglas recently completed a two-year run as a studio artist with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera Company, where she sang in Madama Butterfly and Don Giovanni.
A high point of your UW–Madison career was performing with the Varsity Band at their annual spring concert — twice!. What was that like?
My first year doing it, I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that I was under great hands with director Mike Leckrone and [production manager] Sarah Marty ’97, MS’01, MA’05. And there were fireworks! Who doesn’t like fireworks? The second year, [Leckrone] asked me to come back, and I did an aria from a Puccini opera called Gianni Schicchi.
What other productions were you in at the UW?
My first production with the university was Suor Angelica, my sophomore year. I was the nursing sister. Then I was in Don Giovanni my third year, which I actually just finished at the Florentine Opera Company. It was great to come back to [the role of] Zerlina … and see how I’ve grown.
Which is better: “Varsity” or “If You Want to be a Badger?”
I like “Varsity” … because it’s a collective thing where [people] are able to come together. I think it’s just a really sentimental thing, too, to sing. I remember we sang it at graduation. That’s just something that’s a nice send-off.
You’ve just wrapped up your run with the Florentine Opera Company. Where are you headed next?
After this season, I’m going to a program called Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York for three months. I’ll be covering the role of Clara in Porgy and Bess. Then next season, I’m really fortunate to be coming back to the Florentine [Opera Company] for a role in The Magic Flute.
Porgy and Bess must be lucky for you: after you sang it for Mike Leckrone, you were asked to sing in the band concert. Now it’s landed you your next job with Glimmerglass!
It’s a special opera, just because it’s an all African American class. Also, there are great hits from hit like “Summertime” and “Best You Is My Woman” — that’s actually what I sang at the band concert! It’s a special opera that I wish would be done more often. But I don’t want to get bogged down with it, either. There are other things out there I can sing!
What’s your dream role?
My dream role would be Aida by Verdi. I’m not going to be able to sing it right now, because my voice is not ready. I would have to wait at least 20, 25 years to sing it, just because of the vocal demand it requires. Or the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss. But again, I wouldn’t be able to sing those for a while. I have to wait it out!
That must be tough!
It is kind of tough. You never know what your voice is going to do, but you have to be patient. This is a career that you have to be willing to take chances, but also be willing to take a step back and say, “Ok, I’m not ready for this right now.” Things may never happen, and you also have to be ok with that.
Did you ever have worries about entering such a difficult field?
Oh, sure! I was an undergrad and I was talking to my teacher. I said, “Is this something I want to do?” And she said, “You have to find that out for yourself.” It was really hard to hear that, because you’re 18 or 19 years old and you don’t know! I found that I really enjoy singing. I had to dig deeper into what I enjoyed about opera, too. And I found it!
What is the “it” that you found?
I just love performing. I love being on stage and being able to communicate what I think of a character to an audience. Being able to share my talent with an audience is the thing that keeps me going.