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This transgender singer just made U.S. opera history — and she’s from Sacramento

Meet transgender baritone Lucia Lucas, a Sacramento native

Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas, who grew up in Sacramento and studied at Sac State, made history last month in her U.S. debut as an opera singer. This is a short film by director Hilan Warshaw. Cover photo: Emily Steward Photography/Tulsa Opera
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Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas, who grew up in Sacramento and studied at Sac State, made history last month in her U.S. debut as an opera singer. This is a short film by director Hilan Warshaw. Cover photo: Emily Steward Photography/Tulsa Opera

Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas, who was born and raised in Sacramento and studied at Sac State, made history last month in her U.S. debut as an opera singer.

Next stop: London, for a fall role in Offenbach’s “Orpheus of the Underworld.”

On May 3, 2019, Lucas’ performance with the Tulsa Opera was an American first. It was the first time a professional opera company in the United States had hired a transgender person to sing the lead in a standard work. Lucas performed the title role of Mozart and da Ponte’s “Don Giovanni.”

Lucas, 38, grew up in Sacramento, California, studied horn and voice at Sacramento State and then went on to graduate work at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, according to the Associated Press. On the suggestion of her coach, baritone Richard Stilwell, she moved to Germany to find work. Lucas’ career has flourished in Europe, according to operawire.com .

Composer Tobias Picker, Tulsa Opera’s artistic director, auditioned her in February 2018 for a planned transgender opera after discovering Lucas’ clips on YouTube and sending her an email, AP reported.

Lucas’ wife, Ariana , is a 33-year-old contralto. They live in Karlsruhe, Germany. They met in college when Ariana crashed a Halloween party.

“I knew I was trans when I was young,” Lucas said in a short film directed by Hilan Warshaw. “I absolutely knew that. I came out when I was 33. It’s really never too late. In the first moment that I came out, I had friends going ‘OK, so what are you going to do now. Clearly, you’re going to stop singing.’ And my response was, ‘did I say that?’ “

In transitioning, the baritone never thought about trying to raise her voice.

“I think I can retrain my voice to contralto, mezzo or soprano,” Lucas told The Guardian. ”But how long would that take and what’s the likelihood I would get hired? Whereas I have work in the standard baritone repertoire into 2022. Why would I mess with that?”

Trans singers are just starting to make inroads on professional classical music stages, the Guardian reported. The Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, hired transgender male singer Adrian Angelico for the Italian composer Luca Francesconi’s experimental work “Quartett” in 2017, the Guardian reported. Breanna Sinclairé,‏ a transgender female singer, has performed arias with the San Francisco symphony, but hasn’t made a professional opera debut.

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