Opera Diva Deborah Voigt Coming to Free Library


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Deborah Voigt was fired because she was too fat.

I hate to start a piece about the extraordinarily talented Ms. Voigt by pointing out her weight—this is an artist who has literally had standing ovations that have lasted a half-hour after her iconic performances of Aida and interpretations of Wagner. However, that’s the story everyone knows about the soprano after her very public 2003 termination from the Royal Opera House‘s production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Voigt, who, at the time, weighed in at nearly 330 pounds, literally could not fit into a black dress that designers created for the opera. And this was all a secret, until she told the truth in an interview several months later.

Deborah Voigt before weight-loss surgery.

Deborah Voigt before weight-loss surgery.

“They didn’t fire me because I couldn’t sing,” Voigt told People Magazine recently. “Was I supposed to cover their asses? I didn’t know what else to do…At first I couldn’t believe anyone cared, but it was a little gratifying … They should be riled up a bit. I’m not the only person who felt it wasn’t the right decision.”

But the publicity over Voigt’s weight didn’t stop there: She continued to make headlines after she underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2004. Now, she’s making headlines again—not because of her physical appearance, but for her extremely candid autobiography, Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth-Diva. The book is courageous, to say the least: Voigt explores her various addictions with such candid, exploitive moments, you feel like you are watching an opera (the scene when she has her first binge, eating an entire jar of olives and then drinking all of the juice, as a young, tender child, is burned in my memory.)

Philly audiences are in luck because Voigt will be bringing her book tour to Philadelphia’s Free Library on Tuesday, February 2nd. The evening will feature a Q&A with the opera star about her 30-year career, and I’m sure she’ll reveal some more juicy secrets about the industry: She’s currently in a bit of hot water with Jessye Norman after telling the Wall Street Journal the diva likes to have the air misted with water before she goes on stage.

Fore more information on Ms. Voigt’s appearance at the library, click here. fore more information on her book, click here.