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! : Opera's Most Grateful Moment

Since it is the holiday season, a season to be thankful and celebrate that which we are given, let us look at the subject of gratitude. Like last year’s holiday column, “Opera’s Most Generous Moments” (see December 2006), this month we take three examples from the operatic literature and mine them for wisdom on this all-important topic. What is gratitude? How do we express it? How can practicing it change the way we feel about the world and our singing?

Inspirazione : In Favor of Practicing

How do you practice? When do you practice? What do you practice? And most importantly, why do you practice? This month we examine the singer’s practice routine, or lack thereof, and see if it needs a tune up. Take a look at these ideas, and see if they can be a springboard for you to return to your practice with new energy and enjoyment.

Inspirazione! : Verdi's Seven Laws of Success

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Lisa Houston’s “Inspirazione!” column. For a year now, Lisa has offered singers something to “breathe in” each month to nourish their artistic souls. To celebrate, she returns to the subject of the first column: Giuseppe Verdi. To read the first column, on Verdi’s music in Gold Rush San Francisco, see our September 2006 issue.

Inspirazione! : A Tale of Two Singers

As many singers head to conservatory this fall, it is worth examining some of the pros and cons of studying voice in that environment. A snapshot of two very different singers will get you thinking about how to make the most of your time in school so you can develop, according to Verdi, the three most important qualities in a singer: voice, voice, and voice.

Singers Hit Fog City

Amidst the clanging of cable cars and spontaneous hallway vocalizing, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel played host to this year’s Classical Singer Convention. Once again, CS offered valuable artistic and practical information for singers, while helping to build—what some might say is antithetical to the competitive arena of classical singing—a sense of community. In case you weren’t among the 175 attendees at this year’s ProSeries portion of the convention, here are a few tidbits of wisdom culled from the three days of masterclasses and presentations.

Inspirazione! : For Love Or Money? A Financial Reality Check for Singers

Combine a society that is less than nurturing of artists, some old gender assumptions about earning potential, and a vague sense that money issues are best left to those with less artistic sensibilities. The result? Many singers live in a fog of denial around what their singing is costing them. Here are a few steps to take if you want to get a clear view of your finances and the impact being a singer has on them.

Inspirazione! : Recording on the Go: A Survey of Small Recorders

What are those little gadgets­—as small as cell phones, as inexpensive as a voice lesson (or two)—that are finding their way into rehearsals, coachings, and lessons? Today, when a singer or teacher wants to capture a moment of sound, the choices are as varied as the quality of the sound and the flexibility of the technology. Lisa Houston takes you on a brief tour, from the dinosaur of the microcassette recorder to the latest iPods, to let you know what’s out there, how it works, and what it costs.

Inspirazione! : Is Superscope Super?

It’s the size of a laptop. You can take it out of the box, plug it in, press the record button, and voilà, you’ve got a CD. Can it really be that easy? Lisa Houston is your gear guinea pig for Superscope’s latest CD recorder.

Inspirazione! An OPERA Ameirca Workshop Debriefing : Make Sure Your Publicity Materials Speak For You

With the Classical Singer Convention fast approaching, to help you get your materials up to snuff and put you in the Convention spirit, Lisa Houston reports on a lively and stimulating weekend at the OPERA America Convention.

Inspirazione! : Crossing Over: Broadening Your Vocal Horizons

Learning from other forms and looking at the voice’s component parts can help shift your consciousness from asking what is the right way to sing, to what is the most expressive way to sing—or even, dare we say it, the most fun?

Inspirazione! : A Different Kind of Family: Singers and Their Pets

A Different Kind of Family: Singers and Their Pets
by Lisa Houston

Many singers choose a cat, dog, or other pet for companionship, in lieu of or in addition to their human family members. If you are thinking about this as an option, here are some things to consider in balancing your career and animal companionship.

Inspirazione! : Disciples of the Pear Garden: Notes from a Chinese Opera

As the sleeping giant wakes, all of us will be learning more about China. If you’ve been wondering about Chinese culture and Chinese opera, here is a peek into this ancient form and the dedicated artists who have struggled to sustain it.