Christine Goerke is among the world’s leading opera singers. Her powerhouse performances have earned critical acclaim across the globe. This November, D.C.-area audiences will have the good fortune to experience Goerke’s “dramatic intensity” (New York Times) as she performs the title role of Richard Strauss’ Elektra with the Washington National Opera.
“Epic” is the best way to describe this harrowing 100-minute thrill ride that follows Elektra’s quest for revenge. The musical drama is enhanced by the actors’ stunning Greek-inspired costumes created by legendary designer Bibhu Mohapatra, who used these costumes as the inspiration for his Fall/Winter 2022 collections.
But offstage, this celebrated diva is decidedly un-divalike. Perhaps that’s due in part to being mom to two teenage girls, whose honestly helps Goerke keep it real. In fact, on her own blog, she describes herself as a “dramatic soprano and soccer mom…but not necessarily in that order.”
She cherishes time spent snuggling with family by the fireplace. And she delights in the way music brings people together, sometimes literally—such as time she performed a socially-distanced front porch concert for neighbors during the pandemic.
Busy D.C. parents will relate to her struggle of balancing career and family. For an international celebrity like Goerke, that balance is in hyperdrive. Read on to learn how she manages it all with honesty and grace, and thanks to the help of her village.
Q: You have had such a wonderful performing career! What do you enjoy about it?
A: Thank you. I’m very grateful for the amazing tenure I’ve had thus far on the operatic stage! Where to begin about what I enjoy about it? I love having the opportunity to connect with the audience members through storytelling. I love it when people who have never been to the opera become wide eyed hearing that we don’t use microphones! I love having the ability to offer people a few hours to escape from reality with some epic soundtracks. (That last one is an escape for me as well, which I never mind…) I love being able to inhabit characters that allow me to take out all my frustrations on stage, which is far cheaper than therapy!
Q: Where can D.C. audiences see you perform this Fall?
I am *so* excited to be returning to one of my favorite places to sing this fall. I’m singing the title role in Richard Strauss’ opera, Elektra, with incredible colleagues at the Kennedy Center with Washington National Opera. The opera is based on Greek Mythology, but let’s just say that any mother with a strong-minded child will find something to latch on to in this piece! The performances run from October 29th through November 12th and you can find more information at https://www.kennedy-center.org/wno/home . If you’ve never been to an opera? I love to tell people this is a great first one to see. It’s one act and roughly 100 minutes. If you can make it through a Marvel movie–this is a piece of cake–with a better soundtrack, in my not so humble opinion!
Q: What are the challenges of your career, especially any challenges you may experience balancing your career with raising a family?
A: Oooh… how much time do we have? I think that any working mother will tell you that it takes a village. I learned early on that I should never refuse help when it is offered. It’s been quite a journey for my family. I travel often and that’s hard on all of us. When we first had our girls, my husband and I discussed the travel and whether or not we thought that home schooling (allowing the girls to travel with me) was for them, or if we should allow them to have a routine and have their schooling being in one place. In the end, we decided to let the girls lead. We tried to gauge what their personalities and learning styles dictated. For my girls, being at home and going to school was most important, and thanks to things like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, et cetera (though they will tell you it’s not the same as a hug!), we have made it work.
Q: What are your children’s names and ages?
A: I have two amazing young women in my life: Maggie (Margaret), age 15 and Charlie (Charlotte) age 13.
Q: What do you enjoy about being a parent?
A: I’m utterly amazed by my daughters every day. I love that they let me get away with absolutely NOTHING. If blatant honesty is your thing, teens can help you out there! I love to strive for the heights with them, and hold their hands through the lows. I love to help them learn, and to learn from them. I love to see the future through their eyes.
Q: What’s one thing you hope your kids learn from watching your success in your career?
A: I want my daughters to understand that they can do *anything* that they set their minds to. I have climbed to great heights in my career, and I have fallen down. I have gotten back up and begun to climb back up each time I’ve fallen and that perseverance is how we grow. My daughters are quite remarkable young women. I can’t wait to see where their lives take them and it’s an honor to be their mom.
Family meal: BBQ. Summer or winter, we are a grilling family and love what we lovingly entitle our backyard “Meatfest”!!
Way to spend a weekend with your family: It’s harder and harder to agree on what to do now that my girls are teens and parents aren’t cool, but time on a beach or watching movies is always welcome by all.
Sport or activity you do together: We love to people watch—if it happens to be at a mall, my teens are always excited about that …especially if Mom is along with her wallet!
Team to root for: You can take the girl out of NYC but you can’t take the NYC out of the girl… NY Mets all the way!
Vacation spot: The shore. Any shore. All shores 🙂
Family outing in the DMV (DC, MD, VA): We don’t live in the area, but it’s amazing to visit DC and share all of the amazing museums and history here with my family.