We talked to Kirstin Chavez to learn a little more about her and her career.
What brought you to Utah?
I was hired by the University of Utah to be Artist in Residence at the School of Music in July, 2016; I am now in my seventh year in my position and am grateful to the University for allowing me to continue traveling for my performing career, which is so important to me!
Talk about “Carmen Inside Out”
I have spent over two decades performing the role of Bizet’s Carmen all around the world, and I have performed in nearly 100 different productions of the opera. During that time, I have often encountered perceptions of Carmen as a woman of loose morals, and I know that those perceptions have no basis within the score and, in fact, work in CONTRAST to what the score calls for. So, I finally decided that I would approach a dear friend of mine, Johnathon Pape who is a well-known stage director, and ask him to help me build a one-woman version of this opera that I love so much which would allow me to tell her story as I see it. The show has now had performances throughout the US, in France, England, and Japan, and is slated for performances in 2023 in Malaysia and New Zealand. I am currently building interest and funding for the movie version that Johnathon and I have created together.
How did the lockdown affect your work?
The lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on my artistic work; overnight, all of my numerous singing engagements disappeared, and even now, more than two years later, they are still slow to return. Faced with absolutely no travel, absolutely no singing, and very little social interaction or real community, I decided to resume my financial planning studies which I had left behind some 23 years earlier when I began my professional performing career. I took multiple online courses through the U, completed a professional Certificate of Financial Planning, and, in March 2021, I passed the wildly challenging Certified Financial Planner ® Exam. I know have my own financial planning practice and working with clients to help them reach their life goals is extremely rewarding to me.
Talk about some of standout moments from your career.
I have had so many incredible performing experiences for which I have been indescribably grateful. Some of the standouts for me are:
—performing Carmen at the Sydney Opera House
—performing one of the leads in a world premiere opera An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera
—performing Carmen at the Arena di Verona in front of an audience of 10,000
—performing in La Traviata on live HD Broadcast with the Metropolitan Opera, played to movie theaters around the world.
This Tuesday you will perform Christmas repertoire. Bach’s “Magnificat” is a far cry from Berlioz’s “Carmen”. How do you approach performing the music of Bach?
Whatever I sing, I sing with my own instrument, whether it is opera, concert, art song, or pop. Bach is TEEMING with emotion, and it is my delight to sing some of the solos of my very favorite Bach piece, the Magnificat. My goal will always be to bring the pieces alive for our listeners and to do justice to the beauty of the compositions.