As a freshman at Eureka College, Annette Skaggs believed she was destined to become an attorney or Political Science professor, but that all changed one fateful day when she stopped by an audition for her college’s chorale.
Years later, the “opera darling,” as she calls herself, is known for her impressive vocals and ability to sustain a note for hours on end. I spoke to the opera fanatic to learn about her accomplished career as a singer, as well as her involvement in the local arts scene and several charities throughout the city.
Where did your love for opera begin?
I was auditioning for my college’s chorale and was told I needed to speak with someone. I spoke with this person and auditioned for her and she stopped me in the middle of the audition and said, “I want you to take some lessons.” I thought, I must be really bad! She took my lips (grabbed them) and said, “I see you on stage.” Being naive about what she was looking for or what she heard, before I knew it I was doing work with the Lyric Opera of Chicago all during the course of undergrad. The first time I actually sang on the stage, I was like wow, I’m hooked! Once you get that first taste you think: I could stand doing this for a long time.
I hear you met President Reagan when you were younger?
I was working for Mitch McConnell as an underling. Reagan was the keynote speaker at this $10,000 a plate type of dinner and somehow or another I had a conversation with him. What was funny was he was my keynote speaker when I graduated from Eureka as well.
Did you continue studying opera after you graduated college?
Actually when I came back to Louisville, I took a break from opera so I could take care of my little girl, but when she got to a certain age I got back into opera 12 or 13 years ago.
Where have you performed?
In the Kentucky Opera. I’ve also done some regional work. I’ve done a couple of stints in Lexington, Richmond, Paducah, Indianapolis and Columbus. It’s not always opera. Sometimes it’s guest singing and sacred works with Churches, that sort of thing.
What is your voice type?
I’m a mezzo.
What are the differences in operatic singing and other types of singing?
I don’t sing in my church choir the same way I sing in an opera. A lot of times you don’t have to be as loud in a small setting. With an opera you’re trying to fill a huge space without a microphone. There’s some opera houses out there where they still don’t want you to use microphones.
Do you have a favorite opera?
“Carmen” is probably my favorite to perform because as a mezzo you usually don’t get a lot of the juicy roles. You usually don’t get the guy. You’re usually the mom or the bridesmaid or a witch or something like that. As a friend of mine put it, you’re either a witch, a britch or a b-tch. What she means by britch is we get the pants roles where we play the role of a boy. In “Carmen,” it’s a juicy role where you’re a sex siren. You get to be playful and it’s just a fun role to do.
Are you currently performing anywhere?
Currently, I’m more the awareness and fundraising advocate for the opera.
Do you help out with any other organizations?
I’m more of an arts advocate here in town. My alliance isn’t just with the opera. I am very much involved with Fund for the Arts. I’ve done work with the ballet, LVAA and other artists and art houses here in town. I just like to help out. I believe in what the arts are here in Louisville. We are a premier arts town which is one of the reasons I came back to Louisville. Being involved with the arts is a rewarding thing and shows the creativity that we all have.
Category: The Spotlight
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).