A voice filled with gusto and passion fills the room as if Wagner himself was conducting the performance.
However, in this performance, a faithful audience pining for the high-note is exchanged with a jury furiously scribbling notes and an orchestra’s crescendo is replaced by the pitter-patter of keys as a stenographer transcribes the proceedings. And in lieu of a diva’s final bow? A fierce litigator gives her final defense for a client who has alleged to have been less than honorable.
And a performance is what it is – at least according to lawyer-by-day, opera-diva-by-night Madelaine Lane. In a relatively short period of time, Lane has managed to build a successful law career while launching herself into the opera world – taking on engagements from Georgia to Germany’s Rhine Valley.
On May 13, Lane will bring her “by-night” career to Carnegie Hall in a special performance with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre.
“I have always liked being in front of people,” Lane says. “That’s where I feel most alive and where my talents lie – it’s what attracted me to both a career in law and opera. Being a trial lawyer is almost like performing in an opera – it’s a performance and you must play your part well.”
Though she chose law when it came to college, music had always been a part of her life. Lane’s journalist mother took her to cover an audition at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre when Lane was five-years-old. She was too young to perform, but she was smitten. She tried out again the following year and snagged her first performing role at the age of 6 as a rabbit in Wind in the Willows
In 2007, Lane successfully launched her legal career, focusing on white-collar criminal litigation with the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she is now a partner.
A few years later, Lane turned back to music as a way of expressing emotion and finding an escape from her busy legal career. Her first major operatic experience was with Opera Grand Rapids and its production of Madama Butterfly, where she sang the Cousin. Soon after, she debuted as Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème with the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra.
“It’s been an incredible experience to have my opera career begin to take off,” Lane said. “Practicing law and performing opera have always been two dreams of mine so it’s been a bit surreal to have an outlet to fulfill both of my passions.”
During her Carnegie Hall debut, Lane will sing Countess in the famous Sull’aria, or Letter Duet, from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, a role she recently debuted in Grand Rapids with the West Michigan Opera Project. The concert, which begins at 8 p.m., will take place in the Weill Recital Hall and feature scenes from operas by Puccini, Verdi, Gounod and others.
“Having the opportunity to perform at a hall so prolific in the music community is an incredible experience for me as a performer,” Lane said. “Having been born in New York City, Carnegie Hall’s significance has always been deep within me – so this is, quite literally, a dream come true. I was so honored to get the call from the Lyric Opera and am very excited for the performance.
“It’s going to be a wonderful evening.”
You can see Lane’s performance of Sull’aria with the West Michigan Opera Theater here: https://www.facebook.com/jlouisecoe/videos/862128017223446/.