Lucia Lucas, transgender baritone‘If you have traditional puberty… the testosterone is high, the voice will drop. But there is no way to go the other way.’

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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The reviews for Lyric Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly at the National Concert Hall have been uniformly glowing, Puccini’s best loved opera coming to life with the brilliant Korean soprano, Hye-Youn Lee, in the title role, and the equally outstanding Irish soprano, Sarah Richmond, as her maid, Suzuki.

But of all the principals, the role of Sharpless, the American consul in Japan, requires a singer –a baritone – of great stature, power, and delicacy in equal measure. All of those qualities were evident in the baritone who took to the stage at the National Concert Hall this weekend, and who came to the Ray D’Arcy studio today to speak to presenter, Baz Ashmawy.

What is even more remarkable is the fact that the performer is a woman: the world’s most celebrated transgender opera singer, Lucia Lucas.

During a compelling interview, she spoke of her transition from male to female and how, despite hormone treatment that included oestrogen, her voice remained very much in the male register.

“Testosterone is a one-way street. If you have traditional puberty, or a trans man, or some women who are going through the menopause, if their chemical imbalance changes, so that the testosterone is high enough, the voice will drop. But there is no way to go the other way.”

Lucia was born Lucas Harbour and grew up in Sacramento, California. From the age of five, she knew that she had been born in the wrong body. Now 36 years old, she started seeing doctors about transitioning in 2014 and began hormone treatment in the same year. And last year, 2016, Lucia underwent gender confirmation surgery.

Now living in Germany with her wife, Ariana, also an American, she is a successful, in-demand operatic baritone. Her interview with Baz was a revelation in more ways than one and you can hear it in full by clicking here.

And if you’d like to see this exceptional production of Madama Butterfly, the final performance takes place at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Tuesday, February 21st.

© The Listener 2017

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