To my dear friend Brian Asawa (Oct. 1, 1966- April 18,2016)

It has been a whole year since we lost you (far too soon). Your wit, smile, friendship, and talent are missed every day. Your late-night phone calls to inform me what role I MUST learn next always made me feel special, and how much you believed in me. You had an ability to make whoever you were talking to, whoever you were singing with, feel like the most important person to in the universe at that moment in time.

Beyond this, you had a talent that was beyond compare. My mother said that when she listened to us singing ‘Più amabile beltà’ from Giulio Cesare, she couldn’t tell where one of us stopped singing and the other began.

You were the first Japanese-American to win the Met Competition; headlining revivals of Handel and baroque pieces across the world; song cycles for you by Jake Heggie and Juliana Hall. Your accomplishments are too many to list.

I miss you. The entire opera world misses you.

Love, Kelli


For those of you reading this who may not have experienced Brian’s gift, please listen to this aria from Handel’s Rodelinda; Brian singing Handel was a wonder to behold.


It’s dangerous to go alone!

I take being an #operageek very seriously. One of my lifelong loves is the Legend of Zelda series; awhile back I’d asked the lovely Abby Markov about her making me a Triforce pendant.

You can read the story here:

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Hello again, and happy Saturday!
I wrote the following essay/post waaaaaay back in January, when it was merely rumoured that the current administration would attempt to eliminate the NEA and the NEH. However, now that the budget has been officially proposed, I feel it is worth a share here as well; please feel free to share it on, as I believe this impacts both artists AND their audiences.

Today, the incoming administration released their budget proposal to cut the deficit and reduce spending. included in this proposal, almost as if it was a throwaway line onstage, is casually stated, “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will be eliminated entirely.”
I’d like to have an honest discussion about what that means for performers such as myself.
Very few people in the world of classical music or opera are working as solo artists in the ‘name-recognition’ houses. By this, I mean houses such as The Met, La Scala, Covent Garden, et al. For the purpose of this explanation, I would like everyone to know that even the artists who are internationally famous/recognized are freelancers, working on a 1099 basis, which is a situation fraught with disaster unto itself.
For those of us who have not yet broken that beautiful crystal ceiling into the ‘big houses’, we rely on small local or regional opera companies, symphonies, and orchestras to keep ourselves afloat in the industry. Even singers who do perform at these houses can often be found working in between the ‘big house’ gigs at wonderful small companies nationwide and internationally.
Do you know what those small companies rely on to pay us?
Grants from the NEA. Even with grants from the NEA, the burden of fundraising from private donors to pay the artists is a huge task – without the NEA, it is nigh insurmountable. Without the NEA, many of these small companies will vanish, and the work they provided us along with them; that is even before you consider the loss of PBS, which in many cases is the first exposure young children get to the world of art and music, now that theatre and music programs are cut across the country to make way for sports.
When they vanish, so will the work. When the work vanishes, taking away our means of supporting ourselves as singers, so too vanishes the network of people that rely on performers and artists – coaches, stage directors, repetiteurs, voice teachers – because we simply cannot pay them.
All to save approximately .002% of the budget.
Music and the arts does a very important job; it teaches young minds to dream, to imagine, and to believe there is something better to work towards. In this modern world, I don’t think we can possibly afford to cut that from humanity’s collective budget.



All you ever wanted to know about opera….

Hi there! Most of you may know I’m the opera columnist at On Stage Blog, but I thought I’d give a little introduction and refresher for people who may be newer!


In May of 2016, On Stage editor-in-chief Chris Peterson asked if I’d like to write a column about the opera world for the site. On Stage has grown from a small review blog to a massively successful theatre blog; after only a few years of operation, they are already being asked to cover the Tony Awards from the red carpet! I loved the idea of introducing the world of opera to people who may not know as much about it, so the All You Ever Wanted to Know About Opera (But Were Too Afraid to Ask) column was born.


I continue to take questions, but thought it may be good to catch up anyone who hasn’t read them! So, without further ado, here are volumes 1 & 2!


All You Ever Wanted to Know About Opera (But Were Too Afraid to Ask) Part the First!


All You Ever Wanted to Know About Opera (But Were Too Afraid to Ask) Part the Second


Feel free to ask any questions you may have over at my Twitter page!