Caitlin Ruddy cannot recall any stage in her life when music didn’t matter, and at this point, the 22-year-old said her entire world revolves around it.
The soprano, a Land O’ Lakes native, will soon be showcasing her talent at three upcoming spring concerts of the Tampa Bay Symphony, under the baton of Mark Sforzini, the symphony’s new music director.
Ruddy, a coloratura soprano, will be a featured performer because she was the symphony’s Young Artist Competition winner. She will sing una voce poco fa, an aria from The Barber of Seville by Rossini.
The University of Florida senior said she found out about the young artist competition when she was searching online for opportunities.
She said five artists were invited to do a live audition, and she was thrilled when she emerged as the winner.
“It wasn’t just vocalists,” Ruddy said. She noted, “Every one was really talented.”
She was surprised and delighted when she learned that she’d won. Her family and neighbors, who were there, were also excited, Ruddy said.
The piece she will be performing is difficult, Ruddy said, but she’s eager to take it on.
The character she’s portraying is feisty, Ruddy said, “So, I have fun with it.”
The young woman began singing when she was a girl and joined her first choir while in third grade at Denham Oaks Elementary.
She performed through her adolescence and teenage years at Pine View Middle, Land O’ Lakes and Sunlake high schools. She has also taken part in productions by Arts in Motion, a youth community theater group.
Ruddy has appeared in musical theater productions, but has focused primarily on opera since entering college. She’s performed in four operas at UF.
Ruddy said her mom has been an influence in her musical life because she also sings and has always been supportive. They’ve done duets at church and at her aunt’s wedding, she said.
Ruddy appreciates singers who have expressive voices in any musical genre. Some singers she admires most include Ann Netrebko, Kathleen Battle, Audra McDonald and Julie Andrews.
Although she considers herself to be somewhat introverted, Ruddy doesn’t give that impression when she appears on stage.
“I really just love performing,” Ruddy said.
She strives to engage the audience, and her goal is to make them feel the emotion that her piece conveys: “It’s really important to make your audience feel something.”
To help her deliver a song effectively, Ruddy said she does her homework.
“It’s good to know the context of whatever piece I’m singing,” she said, explaining that helps her elicit the proper emotion.
She is typically singing in a foreign language, so Ruddy makes sure she knows the translations and the proper pronunciation of the words.
Ruddy also pays attention to the clues that the music presents, she said.
The vocal line can say one thing, while the musical line says another, she said: “It adds to the whole complexity of it. … It’s kind of like real life, where nothing is black and white. Everything has nuances.”
Ruddy has studied Italian, but is not fluent. She also has learned the rules of diction in French and German.
Ruddy, who plans to pursue her Master of Music at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., is the daughter of Gail and Bob Ruddy.
Besides singing, she also enjoys acting and dancing. Ruddy believes all of those skills will be useful as she pursues a performing career, which she hopes lasts many years.
“In opera, your voice keeps maturing as you get older.”
If you want to go:
The concerts are 4 p.m. April 28 at the Arts Auditorium on the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College, 2465 Drew St.; 8 p.m. April 30 at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg; and 4 p.m. May 5 at Ferguson Hall, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N Macinnes Place in Tampa.
The tickets at the door are $20 for adults, with free tickets available for students. Students 18 and older must show student identification.