MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A young Memphian goes from the Bluff City to the Big Apple. Caleb Thompson will be center stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
It is a symphony with no audience needed. All that is needed is a voice and will to learn.
“I knew it would be nice if I tried something different,” said Caleb Thompson, a 12-year-old opera singer.
He embraces being different with a passion all the same.
Thompson is a performer.
“When I started acting, it basically led to singing… I was in Alice in Wonderland. Then, I got to sing at a festival,” said Thompson.
We asked, “Did you know you wanted to sing?”
“No, I really went up there. I sung it. I’m just like, ‘sure,’” said Thompson.
Sure is the STAX Music Academy student’s answer to any challenge brought his way.
“When I was at STAX, they never had opera there,” said Thompson.
They did not teach opera until STAX Music partnered with Opera Memphis.
“I wasn’t before so much, but now… huge opera fan. I love to sing opera,” said Thompson. “First of all, they don’t use mics. Normally, in plays or movies or whatever the case, they would use mics to hear better. You have to project so loud, so the people in the back can hear you without mics… I knew opera could hit some pretty high notes. I just thought range. I could help with that.”
He can sing in English and German. He even brought Opera Memphis’ Kerrian Otaño to tears.
“It makes me a little bit emotional,” said Otaño. “I think he’s realized but I hope it really cements for him that opera is just another form of storytelling, and that there’s a place in the opera house for storytellers, for artists like him.”
Now, Thompson is cemented in a chorus for a much larger audience.
“Right now, I’m in rehearsals for the big opera,” said Thompson.
He will be performing at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera in Fire Shut Up In My Bones. It is the first performance in the Met’s nearly 140-year history by a Black composer.
“You don’t really think of young Black boys singing opera, which is really crazy. I’m in this cast, an all Black cast, with everybody just singing opera. I’m just like, ‘Whew,’" said Thompson.
He’s looking forward to belting a new opportunity orchestrated by chance.
Thompson is currently in rehearsals in New York City. The show opens in October.