Viewpoint: Support System

By F. Paul Driscoll

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Virginia Geheb, Christine Goerke and Dr. Michael Geheb at the OPERA NEWS Awards, 2017
© Dario Acosta

CHRISTINE GOERKE, who is featured on the cover of this year’s “Diva Issue,” has had an unconventional path to success. Now one of the most sought-after dramatic sopranos in the world—she sings Brünnhilde in the premiere of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Walküre this month—Goerke began her professional career at the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut in 1995 as “Woman with Baby” in The Ghosts of Versailles. Goerke attracted attention almost immediately in small roles at the Met and, after a few seasons, in larger roles at New York City Opera and other theaters: her singing was clear, true and bold, and her voice had a striking, silvery timbre ideal for the prima donna roles of Handel and Mozart.

When she was in her early thirties, Goerke’s voice stopped performing with its accustomed freedom. She had no way of knowing it, but her soprano was destined for bigger things. Over time, Goerke retooled her technique, rethought her repertoire and emerged a better, stronger singer. Her performances are now informed by a new level of confidence, as well as by an extraordinary sense of joy. 

When Goerke accepted her OPERA NEWS Award in April of this year, she eloquently thanked her “opera parents,” Michael and Virginia Geheb, who gave her financial and emotional support during her student days, and who continue to be a cherished part of her life. Goerke’s acceptance speech was a graceful public acknowledgement of the kindness and generosity of the Gehebs, and of the support and love of all the family, friends and colleagues whose belief in her has always sustained her.

When I interviewed her for this cover story, Goerke said, “It’s very easy to believe that you’re alone when a bump in the road happens. But you are not alone. Every time I see singers who are going through what I went through, and wondering what the path out is, it’s important for me to be able to sit down with them and say, ‘If you want this, and you can be calm, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Just push through. You’ll get there.’” spacer 

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