Opera Philadelphia

Q&A with Soprano Katrina Thurman

By Opera Philadelphia

Katrina Thurman, returning to Opera Philadelphia as Giannetta in The Elixir of Love, chats about her singing career and her musical upbringing.

Q: Why do you like to sing?

I feel a connection to the music and I tend to forget about anything that’s got me worried or stressed out. I just let the music take over! 

Q: Did you grow up in a musical family?

My grandma played piano and organ by ear and donated her musical gift to her church. I also have an aunt and uncle who play guitar and they inspired plenty of sing-alongs.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be a singer?

From the time I was in grammar school I knew I wanted to be a singer. At that time, though, I wanted to be in a rock band!

Q: If you couldn’t be a singer, what career would you have pursued?

I have a passion for fixing and building things and I have always loved animals and definitely would have wanted to work with them in some capacity.

Q: Who were some of the major influences and mentors in your life?

My parents have always been a positive influence because they never discouraged me from pursuing a singing career and they always believed I could “make it.” My choir teachers and voice teacher in junior high and high school were great mentors who gave me a lot of guidance and helped me to stay on track. 

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of the job is constantly looking for the next “gig” and the not knowing what will come. 

Q: How do you learn a role?

I start by reading through and listening to the score and doing research on the opera, the composer who wrote it, and any historical information that might help me to understand the period in which the opera is set. I then break down the score and make a “learning map” of it for myself. The learning map tracks my progress in translating and working on the rhythm and notes in the score. I also track my vocal coachings and lessons on the role and how I’m doing in memorizing the score. By keeping track of the work I have done, I am aware of my progress and where I need to do more work.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

What did Gaga say? “I live for the applause?” OK, OK that’s really not it exactly, but there is something so satisfying about connecting with an audience. 

Q: What do you do in your “downtime” for fun? 

When I am alone working around the house, learning music or just getting stuff done at the computer, I sometimes need a dance break. Things get too exhausting or boring and I just have to shake it off. I will put on a really fun song like OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” or Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and break it down for a few. Then, I’m ready to get back to concentrating!

Katrina Thurman as Berta in "The Barber of Seville."


Hometown: Moore, Oklahoma.

Siblings: 5

Education: Oklahoma City University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

Hobbies: Yoga, Cooking, Traveling, Wine, Watching my favorite TV Series

Favorite Book: I loved the Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and Lord of the Rings series

Favorite Singer: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Favorite Quote/Mantra: Asking for what you want greatly increases your chance of getting it.

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