Lawrence singer Karin Paludan has high aspirations. So watch out, Kathleen Battle and Cecilia Bartoli.
Karin Paludan's enthusiasm was evident in late October as she talked about her upcoming trip to New York. The Lawrence opera singer knew it meant she might be one step closer to reaching her goal.
Before her career is over, Paludan wants to sing in every major opera company in the world.
"It's exciting and it's the anticipation of what the next step will bring," she said. "I hope my dream will become a reality."
Paludan, who left for New York on Monday, is auditioning for agent John Miller. Paludan gained the audition on the recommendation of Ana Maria Martinez, a soprano who has performed with Vienna State Opera and Los Angeles Opera and who recently befriended the Lawrence talent.
Paludan said she has always viewed her voice as a gift, but she didn't know which direction she wanted to take with it until she fell under the influence of Kansas University's voice faculty.
"I was in a rock band for three years in high school," she said. "I thought I wanted to be a pop singer. ... But my classical voice was always in the background."
She studied with KU professor Norman Paige, whom she describes as "a voice of clarity" and source of encouragement. She joined the jazz choir and regular choir and was nominated at the end of her freshman year for the Honors Concert.
A year later, she took the leap and committed herself to classical music, and began taking acting courses to help develop her stage presence.
She appeared in "The Coronation of Poppea," "The Turn of the Screw," "Cosi Fan Tutte" and "Pirates of Penzance." She also received encouragement from KU faculty members Jack Wright, Paul Meier and Mark Ferrell.
"I did 21 shows in five years at KU," she said.
After her graduation from KU in 1992, Paludan decided to take some time off. She worked a 40-hour-a-week job and began taking voice lessons from Inci Bashar. She soon realized she missed performing.
"I got a call from Mark Ferrell about a new opera company that was auditioning," she said.
She auditioned in September and heard nothing back. The following March, however, while visiting her mother in North Carolina, she received a phone message that she had been tapped for a summer apprenticeship with the Utah Festival Opera. She covered Musetta in "La Boheme" and sang in the chorus.
When she returned to Lawrence, she enrolled in classes at the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City, Mo., and continued to study with Bashar and Matthew Lata, director of the opera program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She returned in the summers of 1994 and 1995 to the Utah festival, where she performed in "Die Fledermaus" and "La Traviata."
Paludan skipped the summer program in 1996, but returned in 1997 to take part in a revival of "Green Willow" and to cover Hanna in "The Merry Widow."
That year, between trips to New York to audition for various opera companies, she landed the role of Duck 2 in the world premiere of Sheldon Harnick and Henry Mollicone's "Coyote Tales," a joint venture between Utah Festival Opera and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. The opera was performed in March at the Lyric.
She followed that with covering the role of Violetta in "La Traviata" at the Lyric.
Whatever the role, Paludan said she aspires to one thing: to make the most of the time she's singing.
"I have an obligation as a performer to better others' lives and I accept it fully," she said. "Music is what separates us from the beasts. It gives people an opportunity to see life in a different way."
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.