Opera singer performs one-woman show

Coraima Vazquez, Contributing Writer

The crowd laughed and applauded to the jokes and performance of Kate Tombaugh, the mezzo-soprano opera singer who performed a one-woman show titled “It Just Takes One” Thursday night in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Black Box Theatre.

The musical was all written, edited and performed by Tombaugh. The performer said she wanted to illustrate what it was like to balance her love and social life while trying to be a successful opera singer.

Jasmine Rivera, freshman digital media major, said it was a great opportunity to see a musical like this because opera performances are not as popular in college.

“I really enjoyed the last part of the show when she realizes she doesn’t have to wait around for a man and just enjoys her life as a singer,” Rivera said.

For Tombaugh it was important to illustrate what her trajectory has been as an opera singer coming to a big city as farm girl. She said she faced many struggles before she earned her success, especially in the dating scene.

Tombaugh said singing opera was not originally something she saw herself doing professionally, but at age 22 after graduating with a dual undergraduate degree in English literature and vocal performance, she auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera National Council and won first place in the Champaign district.

It was then when the artist began to take her career as an opera singer seriously and took the necessary steps to further her education and sing opera professionally.

“There were many challenges that I faced. Some were financial; I lived in a basement for free because I did not have money while earning my education,” Tombaugh said. “But to be able to do what you love—it comes with challenges, but it is something that you just have to do.”

“It Just Takes One” was a musical Tombaugh wrote in 2011, and it was inspired by her frustrations with dating.

“Writing the musical served as a form of therapy,” Tombaugh said.

For Tombaugh, it was difficult to fathom the idea of balance having a family and singing career, but said that was always the goal.

With the help of director of operations Dennis Malak, the mezzo-soprano performer, who plays both female and male roles, was able to come to Eastern as part of the New and Emerging Artists Series, she said.

Malak said students can expect to see more performances of New and Emerging Artists for the following two Thursdays.

“They’re young, energetic and innovative people,” Malak said.

On March 28, The Okay Factor will perform folk-inspired music, and on April 4, The Hunts, who “strive to write music that moves hearts with beauty, power and joy,” will perform, according to the program.

Coraima Vazquez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].