“To you I will lose myself”- poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Soprano Michelle (Tammie) Bradley always begins a performance with her first aria, Richard Strauss’ “Es gibt ein Reich” also known as Ariadne’s Aria.
The lyrics (by Hofmannsthal) share the heroine’s despair and acceptance once her lover leaves her, and she resigns herself to a cave to wait for her death to free herself from earthly pain.
“It’s a lucky one for me. When I sing it good things happen,” says Bradley.
Her passionate rendition of this hauntingly beautiful aria helped Bradley capture third place as well as the Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition.
Palm Springs Opera Guild’s Voice Competition is a prestigious West Coast event giving young opera artists the opportunity to advance their careers with scholarship, exposure, and live performances.
“I think I won the audience with the way I sing, but I enjoy it so much and it shows,” Bradley says. “I feel there’s just something about this aria… a release. I just, vocally and mentally, can’t contain myself. You can’t just stand still and make pretty sounds. You have to lend yourself to the music.”
A Kentucky native, Bradley has always been surrounded by music, singing in church and earning to play the piano and organ by ear.
“I didn’t learn to read music until college,” she says. “I never knew about music schools or competitions. I had never been exposed to opera. Now, I don’t see myself doing anything else. My whole life has been music. Playing, teaching, choir. I have to sing; it’s my driving force.”
Of old souls, love and inspiration
- "I love movies and Netflix.
- I don’t like to fly so music saves me.
- Stevie Wonder and Ella Fitzgerald calm me down.
- I’m very old fashioned, Beyoncé is as modern as I get.
- I love Al Green right now!"
Bradley’s parents were a big musical influence introducing her to what she calls “Old School Gospel”, like James Cleveland, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross and the Supremes. However, Bradley’s drive has led her on a personal journey, traveling far from her Kentucky roots and her family to pursue her dream of becoming a professional opera singer.
In fact, her family has never heard her sing an opera performance live. She sends them videos of her arias and of course, sings when she visits for the holidays. Her personal sacrifice for her art only makes her want to succeed more.
“When I’m on stage, it doesn’t do me any good being afraid,” she says. “You’ve gotta perform, get through it. The more prepared you are the less nervous you are. On a deeper note, too many people have invested in me to make it this far."
Bradley now lives and studies in Houston, and travels throughout the country for auditions and performances. The Palm Springs Vocal Competition was Bradley’s first trip to California. She says the experience opened up further career opportunities.
“Competing in the Vocal Competition was a real confidence booster to know that they say, ‘We believe in you. You have potential’,” Bradley says. “I know I’m on the right path and doing the right thing. I had done competitions before but never had done as well as in California. I grew vocally and in knowing that what you are singing is communicating with people.”