Three Transgender Opera Singers on Their Transition, Lives, and Careers

Michael Zwiebach on September 17, 2019
From left to right: Lucia Lucas, Elliot Franks and Breanna Sinclairé. | Credit: Josh New, courtesy of Lamplighters and JP Lor

It takes years of training and practice, and lots of money, to train a voice to sing opera. So what happens when a transgender person with all of that training and all of the effort that goes into building an operatic career, decides to have gender reassignment surgery? KQED's Chloe Veltman decided to meet several singers who have made the transition to find out how it affected them — and, of course, their voices. Her 30-minute audio documentary premiered nationally on The California Report last week. You can listen to the full radio piece by clicking the play button at the top of the page here

Lucia Lucas kept her baritone voice (because estrogen hormones do not affect the vocal cords), but presents as female, which has led some producers to shy away from casting her. But her recent turn as Don Giovanni for Tulsa Opera has some people hoping that there may be more breakthroughs ahead in casting. Read more about Lucia Lucas here.

Breanna Sinclairé, who became the first transgender person to sing the national anthem at a major sporting event, is taking advantage of her natural, four-octave range (!) to move to singing soprano. She is presently studying with vocal coach Sheri Greenawald. Read more about Breanna Sinclairé here.

And Elliott Franks, who starred as a soprano for years in the Bay Area with such groups as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, faced a long-delayed transition when he started taking testosterone, which does thicken the vocal cords. He is no longer singing professionally but has started to sing again with the New Voices Bay Area chorus. Read more about Elliott Franks here.

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