I'm so pleased that soprano Kelly Kaduce agreed to be my first guinea pig. First off, she's kind of a rock star (come visit me in Santa Fe, and you can see her sing the title role of Madame Butterfly!) Not only that, but she is one of the loveliest, most down-to-earth (and FUN) people I know. I think you'll enjoy her thoughtful answers. And while you're at it, you can become a fan of her on Facebook!
Kelly has been on the road singing for about 10 years. In the past 12 months, she has been at home (in Houston) for exactly 96 days, and in the same place as her husband for 137 days (which includes their time spent singing two operas together).
Forthwith, the interview:
LMB: Do you have any stuff that you always bring with you when you travel to make you feel more at home on the road?
KK: Besides the obvious singer things, the three constants I always bring with me are my yoga mat, my running shoes, and my Ugg slippers!
LMB: Do you have any special routines to help you acclimate quickly in a new place?
KK: I do have a routine when I arrive to a new place. I always try to arrive in the afternoon so I can take the time to unpack fully and go grocery shopping. Sometimes I find myself re-arranging so the place feels like my own or doing some cleaning. I also like to arrange my exercise routine immediately. I find if I don't set up a regimen in the first week, I won't do it at all for the duration of my stay.
LMB: I'm just about to take my cat on a plane for the first time. You travel with your adorable dog Lulu quite a bit—any advice on traveling with a pet?
KK: I have a GREAT travel bag for Lulu that is a backpack from Celltei. She has come to love it and just curls up to sleep for the duration of the travel. She also has her own little travel pack with everything she needs (Heartgard, 2 toys, brush, etc). Anything big, like her dog food, I buy when I arrive. If we have the luxury of driving to the gig, I take more things like her dog bed. I try to take her for a long walk shortly after our arrival so she can "get to know" the neighborhood. It seems like that long walk sets her at ease and we can begin the new routine for the next month or so.
One last tip...if you are flying with your pet for the first time and are unsure of how they will react, make sure you pick up some Children's Benadryl in the dye-free liquid with a dropper measurement for kids. If they start acting up and you cannot control them, you can give them half of the recommended dose for kids. This is a harmless way to encourage them to sleep during the travel.
LMB: You and your husband (baritone Lee Gregory) spend so much time apart, but you two seem to have figured out how to make it work. What's your secret?
KK: Ok, I have been asked this question a lot lately. I am not sure there is a secret key. It has certainly not always been easy nor have we been without hardships. After about 11 years together, ultimately what has worked for us is to keep no secrets. We have a little joke: if you don't want to tell your spouse something, it means you MUST. I think the difficult part of this is learning to listen without becoming defensive.
LMB: I always struggle with keeping to a workout routine when I'm away from home. You are in amazing shape—how do you maintain it?
KK: Try to find something you like enough to keep you coming back to it. I prefer Yoga and long distance running. Sometimes I throw other things in there just to get my rear end off the couch and to keep me diverted. I love yoga because it is a great de-stressor and seems to compliment the singing process. I love running because you can explore a city and it gives you a great "high". Since I know what I like to do for exercise, I look up a yoga studio before I arrive in the city.
As for running, I try to do it outside. I use a website called MapMyRun to find good paths. I also have a GPS watch that tracks my distance. If the weather is going to be cold, I bring appropriate outdoor gear (more junk in the suitcase), or try to find a treadmill somewhere. I tell you, running is my FAVORITE! I have learned the majority of my roles while running. When you are limited to the treadmill, you can do all sorts of things! I have done research on YouTube while running, worked on memorization, and I even occasionally watch movies! Basically, I have turned exercising into a hobby to do while on the road.
LMB: In order to have the kind of career you have, you have to be willing to be on the road a lot of the time. What makes it worthwhile for you?
KK: I guess what makes it worthwhile for me is the community of musicians that you get to work with. I LOVE the people in the opera business. They are intelligent, interesting, bizarre, intriguing, generous, inspiring, funny....and so on. I also find great joy in putting on an opera. I love the rehearsal process and the challenges and joys that it brings. The challenge of trying to reach a perfection that is unattainable really speaks to me. Kind of like a dog chasing its own tail!
Not everything I do is great or worth mentioning, but every now and then I get a comment or a message from a person about how a performance touched them in a very personal way and then it all seems worthwhile!
LMB: And finally, give us KELLY KADUCE'S TIPS FOR SINGERS.
1. You should tip your make up artist and dresser.
2. Ladies, when you are in your big gowns with trains and need to go to the bathroom, sit down FACING the flusher!
3. Try to find out ASAP what your costume is and ask if you can get those pieces for rehearsal. (I find this very helpful if you have to sing in a corset or in some crazy shoes!)
4. Don't be defensive when you are receiving music notes or directorial notes. They aren't personal attacks. You want to be your best and everyone wants your best. It's always a collaboration.
5. When in doubt, use the Scotto defense. When given a note that you don't agree with, try this. "Ok, I try....(then do it exactly the same way)...Oh yes! This is much better!"