LSM Newswire

Friday, July 8, 2011

Keith Miller’s Journey from Football to Opera includes 8 Seasons with Crested Butte Music Festival

Colorado native went from not reading music to The Met

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. (July 7, 2011) – Colorado native Keith Miller, a star fullback for the University of Colorado who went on to the pro ranks, returns to the Crested Butte Music Festival (CBMF) for his eighth season as one of opera's rising young stars. From the northeast Colorado community of Ovid (population 300), Miller has thrived in both worlds, going from the gridiron to one of opera's most prestigious stages at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was cast in nearly 200 performances.

The bass-baritone not only has become a favorite in CBMF productions, he is celebrating his third year as the festival's director of opera and the Marcello Giordani Young Artists Program. Recently renamed, MGYAP has become one of the best training programs for young singers in the United States and has grown under Miller’s leadership from 35 applicants in 2008 to more than 500 in 2011 for only 15 spots available annually. For MGYAP performance times and dates, go to www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.com.

In addition, he helped establish CBMF’s Opera Children's Chorus in 2010, a vocal training and performance program for children between the ages of 7 and 12 from the Crested Butte area and around the United States.

Tonight, Miller will give a free pre-opera talk about interpreting this year’s production of “Carmen,” which will be on stage July 28, July 29 and Aug. 9.

“Keith came to us as a student and was not at the level of the other principal singers at the time, but we selected him to sing in our main opera production. Through this opportunity to perform and develop, Keith became part of a community of very loyal artists and patrons,” says Artistic and Managing Director Alexander Scheirle. “Soon after, when Keith's career as a singer launched, he and I started talking and dreaming about a program that would educate and develop new talent for tomorrow's opera stages.”

Passion for Football Transitions to Music
A life-changing moment came for Miller when he took his girlfriend to see “Phantom of the Opera.” After devouring the musical theater canon, he moved on to opera, simultaneously learning scores and football plays. Miller played professional football for five years, playing for the European and Arena Football Leagues. With opportunities to play for NFL teams on the horizon, he decided to pursue his growing obsession with music instead.

What makes Miller’s story all the more incredible is that he learned how to read music only nine years ago (teaching himself) and had no prior music training. An audition in Minnesota landed him four offers, including a spot at the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan. Subsequently, he was admitted to Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts and graduated in 2006.

Meteoric Rise in Opera
The 37-year-old’s rise in the world of opera has been meteoric. In less than five years as a professional singer, Miller has drawn on his powerfully resonant rumble of a voice, sculpted physique and astounding athleticism to put his stamp on operatic productions old and new. Not only has he been awarded increasingly bigger roles at the Metropolitan Opera where he debuted in “Madama Butterfly” in 2006, Miller has appeared in numerous live Met productions broadcast to movie theatres in 46 countries worldwide.

Most recently, he performed a recital at the Breckenridge Music Festival in April and was Sarastro in “The Magic Flue” for the Seattle Opera and performed and led a master class for students at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling near his hometown in May. Upcoming roles include Lord Rochefort in “Anna Bolena” at the Metropolitan Opera and Riolobo in “Florencia en el Amazonas” for Opera Colorado. He also has performed with the Washington National Opera, Florida Grand Opera and more.

By applying the same rigorous training to his singing career as he did as a collegiate and pro athlete, Miller is now one of the few performers today who can take on opera's increasingly challenging roles that demand not only a beautiful voice but also the strength and stamina to make a stage fight thrilling or a dance sequence artful.

"He clearly brings more physicality than the average opera singer," observes Met Director Mary Zimmerman, who cast Miller in “Armida” and admits she took full advantage of his gifts in staging the opera. "Keith does this elaborate flying sequence where he's lifted by six dancers and then suspended just by his arms while bicycling in the air. He's doing things that normally dancers—not opera singers—would do."

Because athletic training has contributed so much to his success as a singer, Miller also founded Puissance Training, which helps singers train for today's physically demanding roles and scenes and taps the talents of one of his former football trainers.

CBMF Schedule & Information
The Crested Butte Music Festival runs from July 3 – Aug. 14. For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.com or call 970.349.0619. For more information about Keith Miller, go to www.keithmillerbass.com.

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