Her straight, glossy blond hair, wide smile and big blue eyes reminded me of the popular cheerleaders in high school; her height and ease of movement were those of an athlete. And yes, Kathleen Reveille (despite its French origin, the name is pronounced “Revelle” here in the States) had been a swimmer, a softball player, and a cheerleader at her high school in Highland Mills, NY. But here she was, freshly graduated from Yale with a Masters of Music and about to make her Carnegie Hall debut in Mozart’s Requiem with The Cecilia Chorus of New York on May 11.
Kathleen’s father—now retired—was a sergeant with the New York Police Department and her mother is a nurse. They both worked year-round and would send Kathleen to camp for the entire summer since she was an only child and they wanted her to be surrounded by other kids. When she was ten, Kathleen declared that she didn’t want to go to camp, so her father sent her to a “Summer Enrichment Program” offered by her school district. This included a theater program, and Kathleen was cast as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods. “That creative process and being surrounded by creative people did it; I was hooked!” She tried out for all the musicals in middle school and high school and, looking to improve her craft, she started taking singing lessons from James Rensink, a world-renowned musician who has appeared at Lincoln Center as leading baritone, pianist, composer, and conductor, and who happened to live nearby.
Rensink started Kathleen off with Gershwin and the show tunes she wanted to sing, but her voice started to develop away from musical theater and towards a more operatic quality. “That’s when the floodgates opened,” says Kathleen. She knew nothing about opera and neither did her parents. “They went on a learning journey with me. We read about opera, we attended concerts when we could, we listened to old recordings that James recommended—Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne. I felt that if I could make one person feel like I felt then, listening to those gifted passionate singers, then I wanted to make that my career. If my parents ever had any doubts about that path for me, they never told me, and I’m so grateful.”
Kathleen applied to a number of conservatories but also to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. Her parents had accompanied her to a music festival and fair where Mercyhurst had a booth, and had slipped an audition CD to Louisa Jonason, director of the opera program there. Before Kathleen knew it, she was being courted by Mercyhurst, was brought up for a visit (“It was so cold up there in Erie, I almost turned right around and came home!”), was granted a full scholarship, and found herself won over by the one-on-one attention and the caring and nurturing of talent offered there. “I also was attracted by the idea of a liberal arts education. I studied ethics, philosophy, math, and science, which enhanced my ability to connect with other people.” At one time, Kathleen wanted to become a doctor but she chose singing instead. “Singing uses all the seven intelligences at the same time,” she says, referring to Harvard educator Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. They include visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence. “And learning music is a bit like being a diagnostician. You look at every detail: the music, the words, the language, until you know you’re doing justice to the intention of the composer.”
From Mercyhurst, Kathleen was directly accepted by Yale. “It was a fine-tuning of my musical education. We learned to be professional, to show up prepared; we learned skills for going out into the world and embarking on a career like this.” As high as the artistic level at Yale was, Kathleen experienced no cutthroat competition, but rather support and empathy from her fellow students. “Singers are some of the kindest people I have met so far,” she says. “We are blessed to be able to do this, to be part of such incredible genius. I am a servant of this art form. Nothing fills my soul like being able to perform this music with my artistry.”
BIO Kathleen Reveille, Mezzo-soprano
Kathleen Reveille, mezzo-soprano, has been praised for her soaring and poised vocal ability. Now, as a twice-nominated recording artist, Reveille has achieved international recognition for her performances in the Polish premieres of Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea (Maurya), Holst’s At the Boar’s Head (Doll Tearsheet), and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (Miss Jesel). In a review from Gramophone Magazine: “Kathleen Reveille, with her baleful, dark mezzo, is a near-ideal Miss Jessel.” Miss Reveille makes her Carnegie Hall debut as the mezzo soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with The Cecilia Chorus of New York. This summer, Reveille will become a member of the Apprentice Singer Program, The Santa Fe Opera, 2018. Reveille holds a Master of Music from Yale University and a Bachelor of Music from Mercyhurst University. She currently enjoys residing in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.