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Rising Stars DeShong lg 1015
DeShong finds Vienna the most musical city of all: “You have a sense that music is part of every day, but not every day that has lost its magic.”
© Dario Acosta

M ezzo ELIZABETH DESHONGhas quickly developed a reputation as one of the most intelligent stage performers of her generation. Her approach to singing is admirably direct: “As soon as something makes sense to your mind,” she says, “it immediately makes sense to your voice.”

DeShong is a firm believer in art song as a cornerstone of every young singer’s experience. “I was extremely fortunate going to Oberlin,” she says, “because there I was really taught how to sing an art song. We also had to sing in choir, which I think with the right conductor, the right philosophy behind it, is a valuable thing. The best singers know how to listen and respond, and art song is the place to start. It’s where you learn the specifics of phrasing, diction, focusing your pitch center, learning how to support. The importance of that training cannot be overemphasized. It keeps everything fresh when you return to it, and you can take that back with you into opera.”

DeShong has performed in some of the world’s most highly regarded opera destinations — Glyndebourne, Santa Fe and Aix-en-Provence, where last July she was a brilliant Hermia in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in a revival of Robert Carsen’s entrancing 1991 production. “I can’t say, based on location, that any one audience is better than another,” says DeShong. “There’s a feeling in Europe, of course, that you’re adding your mark to a well-established tradition, and a sense of responsibility goes along with that.”

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