Lainie Diamond is not only a gifted professional opera singer but she is also one of the sweetest, most friendly, kind, and appreciative people I have ever met. I had the pleasure of attending the Houston Chamber Choir’s Christmas at the Villa performance in December where Diamond had a solo, so I got to hear first-hand just how skilled she is. But despite all of her accomplishments and talent, Diamond is extremely humble. She now calls Houston home after living in New York City for 12 years. Read my interview with Lainie Diamond to learn how she started, where she has performed, and how you can hear her sing in the greater Houston, TX area.
When did you first start singing? Has music always been a part of your life?
I have been singing and have loved music for as long as I can remember. At about three years-old I especially remember sitting on the floor in front of a large music speaker, with my ear against it listening to the different musical lines sung by a singer and throughout a piece of music, whether it was pop or classical music.
When did you realize you had a gift for singing opera?
It is funny, but since the beginning the only thing I have thought about being is a singer/actor for people in order to express life. I have been performing since early childhood in Atlanta, where I grew up. I started piano at eight years-old, acting classes at the age of 12, and I sang and acted in both musicals and plays in high school.
Where did you study music?
I am a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans.
When did you decide to become a professional singer?
I decided to be a Music Major my sophomore year there and started my formal voice training at age 19. I began singing professionally in New Orleans, my second home. When I moved to New York City I wanted to sing and act in musicals on Broadway, but gradually after a couple of years, I realized I loved singing opera/classical style the best and that it was my forte. So in a way, I came to realize I wanted to be a professional opera singer a little later than most people.
Did you grow up in a musical family? Does anyone else in your family perform?
The entertainment business does run in both sides of my family. We have professional singers,actors, musicians and visual artists. My mother is an advanced pianist and has a beautiful voice, as well as artistic talent. My father definitely could have been an actor if he wanted. He has extensive knowledge of movies and history, and loves the stage. Being surrounded by this love of music,drama and history has always been a natural part of my life.
Who is your biggest musical influence? If you could sing with any famous opera singer (living or deceased), who would it be?
As a singer, I am influenced by all genres of music. For me, the most important thing in music is that it comes from the heart. I like to hear singers and musicians who convey the real and honest message and meaning of the music. Technique is very important, but flawless execution that “gets the job done” in a rather distant, cold way is not what I want to hear. Singers like Cecilia Bartoli and Frank Sinatra are great examples of singers who have both beautiful voices and are great natural musicians, yet they sing from the heart. It is real and they know that nothing will ever be perfect. That is what it’s all about.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Some of the musical experiences that I treasure and am thankful for include singing as Mezzo-Soprano soloist in the Handel Messiah in December 2005 with the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in the first classical music performance in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I was very grateful to go to New Orleans and sing for the people and city I love. It was a very special and meaningful concert.
Where is your favorite place you have performed and why?
Singing as soloist at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center and at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City are also close to my heart.
What is your favorite opera? And is there an opera you have not performed and would like to star in?
My favorite opera is Carmen. I love and hope to sing/play the role of Carmen in the future at the right time and place. Georges Bizet, the composer of Carmen, created a masterpiece both musically and dramatically. Carmen is written for the Mezzo-Soprano voice, and is close to my heart in that it is a complex and fun role to both sing and act. It is truly opera at its best.
Is there a location where you would like to perform?
I would love to sing Carmen in Paris, France.
Who is your favorite opera singer?
One of my favorite opera singers is the soprano Karita Mattila. She embodies the role of Salome both vocally and dramatically in every possible way in the Met’s recent production of Strauss’ Salome.
Would you say singing opera is as much about performing/acting as it is about singing?
Opera is about beautiful singing and acting, combined with seeing artistic sets, lighting and costuming, and being engrossed in the historical/fictional story being told onstage.
What types of music do you like to listen to besides opera? Who are some of your favorite non-opera artists/bands?
I absolutely love all genres of music! I love artists like Depeche Mode, U2, the Neville Brothers, Peter Tosh, Peter Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac, Indian Bollywood music, Tom Petty, Bjork, Son House, Dead can Dance. The list goes on and on.
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?
I practice everyday with about a day off every week. But honestly, I am always singing and acting around the house. I love singing to my favorite 80’s pop tunes. Like most singers, I drink a lot of water, herbal tea, and like throat lozenges. I dress warmly in colder weather, take zinc, and don’t talk loud in noisy places, etc. It is important to enjoy life and not worry about things that are beyond our human control.
Would you like to tell us about any upcoming performances?
Since relocating to Houston from New York City last April, I have been enjoying singing with companies here in Houston and in the Southeast. In December, I sang as soloist in the Handel Messiah with the Choral Society of Pensacola. I also sing with the Houston Chamber Choir, and we have several exciting concerts this Spring including ‘Music for Rothko’ at Rothko Chapel in February, and ‘The American Musical’ at the Alley Theatre in March.
*To learn more about Lainie Diamond visit her website at www.lainiediamond.com.