INTERVIEW WITH ASSOCIATE MEMBER MEGAN COOK
Associate member Soprano Megan Cook is a workhorse this season with VOX 3 Collective, featured in the cabaret A Fish Out of Water, as the ringleader of the ‘shy’ maidens, Dorthe, in the opera project Maskarade, and in the ensemble for December’s holiday concert Half-Spent Was the Night. She is interviewed by our Chair of Education and VOX 3 Company Member, Catie Huggins.
Q: When did you first start singing? Has music always been a part of your life?
MC: Music has been a part of my life from a very early age. I’ve pretty much been singing my whole life. One of my first memories is singing “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables over and over again.
Q: When did you realize you had a gift for singing opera?
MC: When I was about 23. I was double majoring in Musical Theater and Choral Music Education and had to give a recital in order to graduate. It was a shock to me that I could not just sing musical theater songs (as was my norm) to fulfill this requirement. So I sat down with my teacher and we tried to find things that fit my non-traditional, non-trained “classical” voice. The whole experience was very trying because I did not have the technique to accomplish what I felt I should be able to show off. When all was said and done, I was approached by a musician I had a lot of respect for and he told me point blank that I needed to think seriously about singing opera. Needless to say I was floored, but I took his advice.
Q: Did you grow up in a musical family? Does anyone else in your family perform?
MC: My parents are both music educators and I guess you can say that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I have an older brother who is a professional trumpet player and subs with the Houston Symphony, a sister-in-law who sings regularly with the Austin Lyric Opera and Conspirare Ensemble, and a younger sister who toured internationally with the Tony Award Winning Show BLAST!. So yes, music runs in the family’s blood!
Q: What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
MC: I am not sure if it’s a big accomplishment- at least, it’s not an opera-related accomplishment, but it’s pretty cool. this summer I was asked to sing the National Anthem for the Taste of Chicago concert with Robert Plant. It was the most surreal experience- hanging out with a guy from Led Zeppelin!
Q: Would you say singing opera is as much about performing/acting as it is about singing?
MC: I would definitely agree with that statement. Opera has to be about entertainment as well as beautiful singing. One without the other leaves the audience confused and wanting something more. The era of “park and bark” type staging no longer works. We live in world with endless entertainment possibilities at our finger tips, if the singer does not find a way to engage the audience, then the audience won’t come back.
Q: What is involved in being a professional opera singer? How often do you practice? How do you care for your voice on a daily basis?
MC: Well this is a loaded question! There is so much that you do to prepare yourself to be an opera singer. Countless hours of practice, coachings, lessons, language classes, audition prep and then of course auditions. I call it my second full time job. Physically, I practice everyday for at least 30 minutes. Luckily, I work downtown close enough to the Harold Washington and can get into a practice room on my lunch break. Mentally, I feel like I am always practicing. I am constantly thinking through technique or phrasing, text or character choices. Chances are if you catch me mumbling to myself, it’s practice related.
In my opinion, Megan was really cool about the whole Led Zeppelin thing. For one thing, she also got to meet Aston Kutcher and Mila Kunis who were backstage waiting for their friend Robin Thicke to perform later. She also neglected to mention that she got to eat with them back in the green room, and that they were really friendly! I would have loved to share have met Meg Griffin!
Be sure to come out and see Megan and many other talented VOX 3 folk at Fish out of Water!