Being asked to sing on this recital was both very exciting and very scary. I’ve been bisexual my whole life but had never found a way to tell people without feeling like I was making some sort of awkward, grandiose announcement. Because I’m married to a man it’s generally assumed I’m heterosexual, and it’s easy to let people draw their own conclusions. Easy, but ultimately unsatisfying and depressing.
Before I was with my husband, my lack of identification with heterosexual femininity was often chalked up to me being ambitious, repressed, frank, from somewhere else...the list goes on. Until very recently I’ve moved through the world having a lot of myself seen by others, but never my sexuality. It was made clear to me when I first tried to open discussion with my family as a tween that being anything but straight where I grew up put my safety at risk. Safety was more important than authenticity, especially in my Catholic community. It was easier to to shelve my feelings or chalk them up to having not tried hard enough to change. I did that for about fifteen years, to my own detriment. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want women to feel unsafe around me, like I was preying on them or oversexed, and I didn’t want my male friends to project any fantasies onto me. I didn’t want my sexuality to put me in the spotlight in any way. It seemed easier to move through the world ignoring my sexuality, so I tied it up into a neat little box and put it away in my psyche.
This recital has played a huge role in helping me open that box.
It never occurred to me that I would be able to sing from the character perspective of a bisexual person, but “On The Road” by Ethel Smyth allows me to do just that. And the princess in Szymanowski’s Songs of a Fairy Tale Princess is not singing about men or women, she’s speaking as someone who has experienced falling in love. For the first time in a love song, I can make the focus my character’s love, not the object of that love. Because love is love.
I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, and I am proud to be a woman. I can think of no better way of celebrating who I am than through creating beautiful music with wonderful musicians with whom I can finally feel at home.
Soprano Eliza Woodyard has been an active soloist in the Pacific Northwest since 2014. Recent performances include Hansel and Gretel (Gretel) and The Tales of Hoffmann: The Doll Act (Olympia) with Northwest Opera In Schools, Etc, La rondine (Yvette)with Puget Sound Concert Opera, Die Zauberflöte (Erste Knabe) with Opera Classica Europa, The Ballad of Baby Doe (Silver Dollar) with Opera Fort Collins, and the world premieres of Michel Edward's War Symphony and André van Haren's Spirit Painting with Octava Chamber Orchestra. Additionally she is a member of the Seattle Opera Chorus and has appeared in their productions of Nabucco, The Pearl Fishers, The Flying Dutchman, and Aïda. She received her Master of Music from University of Northern Colorado and her Bachelor of Music from New Mexico State University.