Deyerle is an opera singer. Now, I’ve never known an opera
singer, so I was a bit nervous and a lot curious sitting down to
talk with Mary.
Her father joined the Army Air Corp during WWII. Her mother had
the same notion, joined the Corp and became a nurse. They met and
married. Mary was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but with her father
in the military they moved around a bit, living mostly in Washington
D.C. and Holland. When Mary was eight, living in Holland, she sang
in the church choir. “Somehow I just knew I was better than
the lady who was choir soloist,” she admits.
When Mary was twelve, longing to return their southern roots, her
family settled in the small Alabama town of Wetumpka. If you saw
the film “Big Fish” that’s Wetumpka.
In high school synchronicity presented itself. Retired opera singer
Rachel Mathes decided to teach, she wound up in Wetumpka. Rachel
told Mary she had potential, “She helped me understand what
I needed to do to get there.”
“I went to Birmingham Southern College, the Harvard of the
South,” Mary chuckles, a hidden trace of an accent begins
to reveal itself. When Mary laughs, the clear connection from her
smile directly to her eyes is instantly visible.
Her talent grew with good operatic roles in college, then she attended
grad school at the University of South Carolina. “The teacher’s
influence is very important. You don’t know what you sound
like, you need their ear. They motivate you, give you the confidence
to do it and to take the rejection. Teachers like Rachel Mathes
and Gene Ferguson taught me to love it, they set the foundation.”
Having earned a living for more than three decades with my voice,
I’m very curious about the opera singer’s voice.
“You have to train it like an athlete,” she confides.
“You must know its limits and how to take care of it, know
what roles you can and should sing. There are things each voice
can and cannot do; otherwise it’s like a cello trying to be
a violin. We like to think of ourselves as limitless. We’re
not. To be an opera singer you need a voice of size, to carry. You
need range and three registers; chest, middle and head, then train
all the muscles of the voice so they will respond, knitting a seamless
line between each register.”
“My most successful roles were those I understood best in
my heart. Passion is most important. I have the time of my life
The smile triggers her eyes, “It’s like the day I got
married, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
What’s most important in Mary’s life is her love for
husband Tom Hack, “I knew I was going to marry him the first
time I met him. He’s the light of my life.” They live
happily in Hudson with three adorable Boykin Spaniels, the state
dog of South Carolina Mary fell in love with while in grad school.
Mary’s dream is to one day found an opera company in Hudson.
Only a small percentage of people in the creative and performing
arts ever make the big salaries, you’re lucky just to earn
a living, so why do it?
“You do it because you love it.”
Mary lays to rest a few misconceptions about opera singers? “We
don’t run around wearing helmets with horns on our heads.
We don’t throw hissy fits and temper tantrums, the Diva Era
is long gone, and we can’t shatter glass with our high notes.
Ear drums maybe, glass no.”
She was a part of Paul McCartney’s “Standing Stone,”
a symphonic poem, at Carnegie Hall. “He doesn’t read
music so he was filled with respect and awe to see it come to life.
He was very approachable, signed autographs, treated us as collaborators.”
She leans close, sotto voce, “The first day of rehearsal we
were all so excited, acted like kids when he arrived, giggling and
whispering. I still have my Back Stage Pass. Oh, and he has great
hair! Southern girls love great hair.” We laugh and talk tall
hair and Dolly Parton. “As a Southern Belle would say, ‘If
God created me in his own image, then I have more than returned
Under the direction of Conductor of Kurt Mazur of the New York Philharmonic
Mary sang her favorite, the Choral 4th Movement of Beethoven’s
9th Symphony, Ode to Joy. “One of the most moving lines translates
like this: ‘Above the heavens, beyond the stars, must (surely)
a beloved Father live.’ I think it speaks to the yearning
in all of us that somewhere, in this universe, however you want
to define it - in sacred or secular terms, there exists a God, a
force, a power of such love and benevolence that protects us and
binds us in brotherhood to our fellow man. In our dog-eat-dog world,
the idea that love and fraternity can prevail is a real comfort
We’ll talk next time From The Road.
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