the baseball player Dizzy Dean that "it ain't braggin' ifyou can do it." She is rarely caught offguard. (The radio appear- ance at halftime of the football game in Chapel Hill is an exception. She was asked what she sings in the shower: Whitney Houston, Streisand and Ave Maria.) "Because of my spiritual background, my faith, I always feel safe and protected and confident," she said. "I would like to think the standing ovation wasn't for me, Vickie from the farm, but for the power of the music." Wing said: "She's self-confident with good reason. Because of this, she's a wonderful singing actress." She made her first appearance on the Met stage in Verdi's Luisa Miller in 1991, prior to the European debut. Before this season, Victoria had leading roles at the Met in nearly a dozen operas and a long list ofperformances outside New York. By early December this season, she had done 25 scheduled performances and 10 more covers. As a mezzo-soprano, she's also done many ofthe "pants roles," playing the parts ofboys and men. And when she plays women, usually it's the, shall we say, less ladylike roles. "My dad asks why I always play the courtesans," she said. "It's because I'm lower-that's the parts written for my voice range." Victoria has won the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition and the Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition. Opera News magazine has called her a star on the rise. Vickie will not let a publicity release go out without making sure it says she holds the key to the city of Thomasville. She has kept the home fires burning even in her music, pelionning music of the Durham composer Robert Ward with the N.C. Symphony in Carnegie Hall; singing her signature Carn1en in Charlotte; making a triumphant return to UNC to pen the 1994 William S. Newman Artists eries in 1994. Last fall she was the only mezzo-soprano invited to perfonn at a Lincoln Center trib- ute to the legendary mezzo Marilyn Horne. On a typical day this season, alone in
Livengood as Carmen for the Hartford (Conn.) Opera. COllrlesy of Virloria Livengood
New York, Victoria was doing a rare
audition for a future stint with the Houston
Opera Company; rehearsing several hours
for the Met premiere of Britten's A Mid-
summer Night's Dream and being fitted for
"an extravagantly beauti£i.tl costume, won-
derful fabric from London"; working off
the stress at the gym.
And, as every day, dreaming about
CarnIen. She has seen the world. She has
sung the world. She's got the key to the
city. Donny Osmond called her on the
phone. Dean Smith asked to have his
picture taken with her. Luciano Pavarotti
canceled his appearance in an opera at
the Met last full, and when they scheduled
another one in the spring just for him,
they asked Victoria Livengood to be in it
and she turned it down because the role
wasn't right for her career.
And she's done Carmen-opera's
quintessential femme fatale-a hundred
times. But not, yet, at the Met.
"At this point in my life I believe that's
the role I'm fit for," she said. "In that
role you're being compared to everybody
that was anybody in opera for the last
century. She goes from the wildest out-
burst ofanger to sensuality to great humor
in the same five minutes. She loves life,
she seizes the moment, she has no fear.
"There are several other gals out there
making Cannen their bread-and-butter
role. I'm hoping to get the cover on it in
the next five years- back to the base-
ment-and one night the phone'll ring
and they'll know I did it a hundred times.
And they'll say Victoria is a contender.
"All I want's the shot. I'll make the
Scott Hester was her high school sweet-
heart. His father was the Livengoods'
pastor. They went their own ways in
college. When Scott heard about the Hill
Hall recital two years ago, he made it
known he would be there - with four
dozen roses, because he couldn't remember
which was her favorite. Mter the concert
they went for coffee.
Vickie and Scott recently celebrated
their first wedding anniversary, with the
whole family gathered at their home in
Jacksonville, Fla., where Scott works.
He's the attorney.
Mter a few days in the city, a few
rehearsals, the Southern accent will fade.
But Victoria's friends at the Met still hear
it regularly. They can tell when she's
been home. nn
DAVID E. BROWN ' 75 is associate editor !if
the Carolina Alunmi Review.
CAROLINA ALUMNI RE V IEW