Mezzo Julie Miller is in her second and final year as a Ryan Opera Center member. This talented singer does double duty as a working mom, but that hasn't stopped her from appearing at Lyric in The Passenger, The Magic Victrola, Die Fledermaus, La traviata, and Otello, among others.
She was also just announced as the winner of the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Scholarship through the Musicians Club of Women.
Julie's final performance at Lyric is the upcoming Rising Stars in Concert on Saturday, March 21. (Donate $75 or more today to secure your place at that exciting concert. )
Name: Julie Miller
Year in ROC: 2nd
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Dream Role: Octavian in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier
When did you start singing? When did you know you wanted to be a singer?
I began singing in choirs when I was 7 years old and continued to do so until my senior year in college. I knew I wanted to be a singer after singing the role of Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea. This was my first role, and upon completing her first aria ("Disprezzata regina"), I was hooked.
Did you ever consider a career other than singing? And if you had to imagine an alternative career now, what would it be?
I began college planning to have a career as a violinist; I even completed a degree in Violin Performance. However, once I was introduced to the multi-faceted aspects of singing (i.e. language study, acting, dance), a career as an opera singer was a clear choice. If I were to imagine myself in another career, it would be zoology because I have always been fascinated by animals, especially large cats, and I think it would be fun to work with and train them.
What was the most memorable performance you've been in at this point in your career?
My most memorable performance to date was singing Emilia in Otello at Lyric last season. Not only was it my house debut, but I had the privilege and thrill of sharing the stage with famous/amazing singers that I admire, Ana María Martínez and Johan Botha.
Miller as Emilia with Falk Struckmann as Iago in Otello
How do you balance being a parent with your singing?
I love my daughter, and I am grateful for the perspective and balance she provides in my life. She's 2 1/2 years old, so I always have a smile and hug to come home to despite what my day may have been like. It is, however, difficult at times to balance being a mom and an opera singer. I would not be able to do so without the support, sacrifice, and dedication of my husband. There have been numerous occasions where he has been both "mom" and "dad" so that I can travel for gigs and take extra time for score study and practice.
Can you compare Chicago to your hometown of Sacramento?
It is difficult to compare the two cities as they are quite different in climate and size, but Sacramento will always have a special place in my heart because it is home. That being said, I have grown to love Chicago for its wonderful support for the arts, great food, and beautiful architecture.
- Julie Miller portrait credit Devon Cass
- Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Todd Rosenberg, Dan Rest, and Robert Kusel
- Miller family photos courtesy Julie Miller