Don Giovanni is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most complex musical compositions, and the leading role in its opera is a demanding and challenging feat that only the best vocal talents of all time can rise to.
In an amazing twist, the opera’s production in Tulsa, Oklahoma has decided on a completely unorthodox move—the show will feature a transgender woman, Lucia Lucas, playing the lead title role in her baritone voice.
The Mozart masterpiece opened on May 3, and it was a moment of history: the first time a transgender woman starred as principal on an opera’s stage in America.
Lucia is an American baritone performer who has been in Germany for the last ten years or so. She came out as a transgender woman in 2014, stating that she always knew she was a woman since the earliest age.
If her friends wondered how she would navigate her career as a baritone in classical music, so did she. While some women can sing in baritone, it is rare. Lucia decided there were no rules saying she couldn’t be herself in every way, and continued to pursue her talents as well as her gender identity.
“All I could do was try and do my best and hope that my talent was good enough,” she told NewNowNext.
She recently sang in a Wagner production and has confirmed a future role in the opera by Verdi, Rogoletto.
Lucia has no problem playing men on stage. She is flexible and professional and recognizes that theater is about playing roles, not about dressing up as yourself. “If you sing baritone, you can’t always expect to be wearing a dress,” she said.
Tulsa Opera’s artistic director, composer Tobias Picker, told Operawire:
“Lucia’s dominance of this art form, and of this opera in particular, combined with her unique life experience, will stun audiences with a fresh take on the philandering protagonist’s conquests and ultimate demise.”
Lucia was auditioning for Picker for a part in a transgender opera. He was so impressed with her vocal talent and depth and personality that he offered her the part for Don Giovanni instead.
“It’s a great dramatic baritone voice,” Picker said. “It has depth of emotion and it has enormous power.”