Lisa Houston

Lisa Houston

Lisa Houston is a writer and dramatic soprano who divides her time between Berlin and Berkeley. She recently performed Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and the title role in The Last Diva on Broadway with the Leipzig Kammeroper. She can be reached at

Inspirazione! : Finding Peace this Holiday Season

With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, finding the peace and joy we hear about in sermon and song can be difficult or nigh unto impossible. Examining the calming influence of music in these three examples, however, will set you on your way to finding more peace this season, with yourself and with others.

Hitting the Highs and Lows with Bass Eric Owens

Eric Owens started out playing oboe and was playing professionally by the age of 15. Soon his love for opera changed his long-term ambitions. Find out how he arrived at an international career, what advice he has for up-and-coming singers, and why this singer has lots of gratitude and no regrets.

Inspirazione! : At the Root of It: Muscle Tension and Emotional Memory

A relaxed tongue. An easy, fluid breath. You can’t have a free and easy sound without them. So what’s the big deal? Why does it take singers years of hard work to get certain muscles to cooperate? Maybe the trouble is that our muscles are already busy doing something else, like holding on to the emotional memories of the past. If so, then physical training is only part of the process and art of learning to sing.

Where We Sing : Then and Now

Opera houses, living rooms, churches, assembly halls, classrooms, public parks—do the places and spaces you sing in energize or depress you? Did generations past give more thought and attention to acoustics as well as an inspirational setting? Singers put enormous time and energy into thinking about how and why we do what we do. Let’s take a moment to think about where we sing.

Inspirazione! : What Size Pond Are You Swimming In?

College is a much bigger pond than high school. The big city is a bigger pond than a small town. World-class opera companies are in a bigger pond than community theater. Bigger, however, isn’t necessarily better. The environment that is right for your greatest happiness and fulfillment may end up looking very different from your original idea of success.

Inspirazione! : Serving a New Master...Or Not!

Most singers will have several teachers over the course of their professional lives. Changing teachers is a big decision, a decision that can take a lot of finesse and personal courage. You may have social issues when you leave a studio, feelings of guilt about changing loyalties, and growing pains from discovering new vocal or personal horizons. Ultimately, a singer’s commitment must be to artistic and vocal growth, and the teacher is only a vehicle for what the student is ready to achieve.

Inspirazione! : Singer's Summer Reading

Summer is a wonderful time to read. More daylight and more garbage on television may inspire you to pick up a book. Biographies, histories, or books of opera anecdotes make great reading for singers, but the novel is a particularly wonderful way to examine the interior life of being a singer. Here’s a book report on three classics.

Inspirazione! : It Only Took a Moment . . . to Become a Singer

The ins and outs of being a classical singer can be overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in worrying about technique, business woes, audition nerves, or performance stress. With graduation season in full bloom,
many singers are stepping out into the world to try to realize the dream of becoming a professional singer. Whether you are just starting out or you’re a seasoned professional, before you sing another note or send out another résumé, take a few minutes to remember how you got into this mess. Try to remember the moment you knew you were a singer.

Inspirazione! : The Pretty Singer

As opera moves to the big screen, the value the industry places on being physically attractive seems to be on the rise. What value should beauty have in the opera world? Are pretty singers treated differently, and if so, how does this affect their vocal development? What value do you place on your looks, and how does it affect your sense of worth as a performer?

Inspirazione! : The Fluent Singer: Rosetta Stone Version 3

When it comes to fluency in a second language, Americans have a bad reputation. Classical singers may fare better, but singers typically score much higher on pronunciation than they do on comprehension or fluency. This month, CS reviews the German levels 1 and 2 in the latest version of Rosetta Stone and offers some other ways to get an immersion level of learning without buying a plane ticket or spending a fortune on lessons.

Inspirazione! : Cancellation Policy: Thoughts on a singer's least favorite subject

Every singer dreads getting laryngitis. To get it the first weekend in December, when holiday work is plentiful, is doubly frustrating. To get it the first weekend in December, when you also have a callback for the role of Carmen, now that’s just a plain old drag. One such weekend prompted the following thoughts on canceling—when to do it, how to do it, why to do it, and how to navigate the rough waters well enough to stay emotionally and vocally afloat.

Inspirazione! : Be a Green Singer

What is the most basic ingredient for being a good singer? Talent? The right teacher? A musical upbringing? All of these these are important, but if you keep it really simple, there is something even more essential to good singing: good health–and one of the things that is essential to maintaining good health is a healthy environment. Since it’s the New Year (a time for clarifying your vision and reassessing priorities) let’s take a look at the singer’s most vital resource and think about stepping into the spotlight on environmental issues for what may be your most important role ever.