“Kiera, you were robbed.”
I was so compelled to e-mail soprano Kiera Duffy and tell her this after I watched The Audition, a 2009 documentary (Shot in 2007) following a group of budding opera singers that were up for The Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Audition and earning a top cash prize.
The film showcases several vocalists that were all up for the same prize (Among them, Michael Fabiano, Angela Meade, Amber Wagner, and Ryan Smith, who tragically died of lymphoma during post-production), and while all were wonderful and had great depth, Kiera Duffy was someone that stood out. She wasn’t your typically big, boisterous opera star, and the film even shows she’s conscious of this (One of my favorite moments in the film shows her pantomiming the features of a stereotypical Brunhilde).
In the film, Kiera was shown performing Handel’s “Tormani a vagheggiar” (From Alicina) and Verdi’s “Caro Nome” (From Rigoletto), sadly, only in parts, but such coy character came out of her performances.
In the end, after the officials had a meeting and butted heads over their own agendas and taste, the winners were chosen and Kiera was among those that were not chosen for the prize. Perhaps not an upset that infuriates an entire country the way they do on American Idol, but I felt such an injustice was done.
This lady was charming and inspiring, and she deserved to be remembered.
Several years later, it turns out Kiera had gained quite a bit of support for her performances, and now she performs regularly around the country (And the world). She can be found on YouTube and Vimeo in several clips of contemporary works, including Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket (Based on Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
And btw, she had written about the reaction to her Audition snub in a blog entry titled “Soprano Kiera Duffy on life after ‘The Audition'” (Courtesy of Chloe Veltman; From her blog ‘Lies Like Truth’):
“Since the release of the documentary on national PBS stations this past January, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to The Audition. I seem to get at least a handful of new Facebook friend requests every day, not to mention the emails and wall postings and messages on my website from people around the country who were impacted by it. To hear what viewers have had to say after they’ve watched the movie has been fascinating: ‘I never realized what it took to be an opera singer!’, ‘I never saw an opera before, but now I want to go to one!’, ‘I’m simply blown away by all of the talent!’. I have to admit that I’ve also gotten quite a bit of: ‘I was sure you were going to win’. Or the slightly more authoritative: ‘You should have won!’. Or, ahem, my father’s personal favorite: ‘You got robbed.’ Of course, I am touched that people enjoyed my performance, and hey, maybe I could have used some of them at the judges’ table, but For. The. Record. I’m actually not sure I should have won, and I definitely don’t think I got robbed. Dad.”
Kiera’s dad and I quite possibly have some bonding in our future.