BY KAREN BOSSICK
Tamara Mumford sometimes sang with her operatic voice for fun while doing chores as a teenager.
But it soon became apparent that her vocal abilities were no joke. And so, when she was 16, her parents found a classically trained singing teacher for her.
Mumford has grown her education into a career that includes 140 appearances with the Metropolitan Opera and appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Utah Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
And she will perform at Sun Valley Opera’s Glamorous Garden Gala—Opera in Bloom on Tuesday, June 21. The Summer Solstice event begins at 5:30pm with a reception of wine and hors d’oeuvres on the lawn of a beautiful garden just north of Ketchum.
Raine Filbert, recipient of the 2019 Thomas S. Perakos Family Foundation and Sun Valley Opera four-year grant, will perform a short concert followed by a seated dinner served by Vintage Restaurant & Catering.
Tickets are available at 208-726-0991 or https://www.sunvalleyopera.com/, and proceeds benefit the Sun Valley Opera Artists Fund. Afterwards, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford will present a 50-minute concert featuring a selection of “Carmen” and other favorite operas, as well as a range of Gershwin songs, American standards, love songs and fun cabaret songs.
Mumford grew up in a large family of musicians in Sandy, Utah. Her father studied opera at Utah State University and her mother had a beautiful contralto voice.
“Although my father was not into music professionally, he was an exceptional talent,” she said. “From a young age, my sisters and I sang four-part harmonies together for church and community gatherings. We spent many summers playing the community musical together as a family: Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCoat, Annie, etc. I have fondest memories of that time together.”
Mumford preferred Utah State University to Juilliard because she knew the head of the vocal department there.
“Cindy Dewey was a true vocal technician and I felt completely comfortable with her in the meetings we had when I was auditioning at Utah State. I knew I wanted her to be my voice teacher and I knew I didn’t want to go too far from home for my undergraduate studies. A scholarship at USU sealed the deal.”
Utah State proved to be a wonderful place for her to grow into her “instrument,” Mumford said.
“For me it was a safe place to gain experience and to strengthen my self-confidence as a ‘big fish’ at USU. Of course, many thrive at Juilliard, but I don’t know if I would have had so many opportunities as a student at such a big school.”
After grad school, Mumford was ready to be seen in a bigger arena, so he pursued a master’s degree at Yale University.
“It had an incredible performance-based opera program. Many agents and casting directors came to see me for classes and gigs, and I was only a train ride from New York City.”
A year after completing graduate school, Mumford met her future manager and she was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She was also invited to a solo concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
“It was an honor to be asked to play a solo with the Tabernacle Choir. They have a rich history and are an important part of my culture. Music Director Mack Wilberg has extremely high expectations of his group and it was inspiring to see this up close during rehearsals. My brother-in-law sang in the choir for years and he was a member while I was there as a guest artist, so sharing the stage with him was special. I have sung many performances of Handel’s Messiah with many fine choirs in my career, but none can surpass the wall of sound I experienced when this choir sang the Hallelujah Choir.
Of course, no career goes by without a few bumps along the way, and Mumford’s bump manifested itself as a pair of fluffy blue slippers.
She sang the role of Ottavia in L’Incoronazione di Poppa at Glyndebourne Opera in the UK years ago when they appeared at the BBC Proms in London, which was an important debut for her.
“In one scene, my character comes in from outside to order my servant to assassinate my enemy,” she said. “It’s an intense scene and I was dressed in a smart black business suit and coat, heels, gloves and a hat. The scene was going well and then I looked down and realized I had forgotten to put on my costume shoes and was instead wearing the fluffy blue slippers that were provided to performers backstage. I got through the scene, but the fluffy blue slippers were certainly a distraction and definitely not the look the director had in mind for this key scene in the opera.”
She’s hoping for smoother sailing at Sun Valley.
“I’ve never been to Sun Valley and it will be a treat to meet the crowd there!”