Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva
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Internationally beloved opera star Deborah Voigt recounts her harrowing and ultimately successful private battles to overcome the addictions and self-destructive tendencies that nearly destroyed her life.
Call Me Debbie is one of the most electrifying performances of Deborah Voigt’s life. The brilliantly gifted opera soprano takes us behind the velvet curtains to tell her compelling story—a tale of success, addiction, music, and faith as dramatic as any role she has performed. For the first time, she talks about the events that led to her dangerous gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and its shocking aftermath: her substantial weight loss coupled with the “cross addiction” that led to severe alcoholism, frightening all-night blackouts, and suicide attempts. Ultimately, Voigt emerged from the darkness to achieve complete sobriety, thanks to a twelve-step program and a recommitment to her Christian faith.
Colored by hilarious anecdotes and juicy gossip that illuminate what really goes on backstage, Voigt paints diverting portraits of the artists with whom she’s worked, her most memorable moments onstage, and her secrets to great singing. She also offers fascinating insight into the roles she’s played and the characters she loves, including Strauss’s Ariadne and Salome, Puccini’s Minnie, and Wagner’s Sieglinde, Isolde, and Brünnhilde, sharing her intense preparation for playing them.
Filled with eight pages of color photos, Call Me Debbie is an inspirational story that offers a unique look into the life of a modern artist and a remarkable woman.
mother that way. Do. You. Under. Stand?” He’d get that soap in good and deep, until it hit the molars. And then he’d twist it around in my mouth to make sure he didn’t miss a spot. Even my spankings took on a new dimension. We didn’t have a Ping-Pong table in our house, but Grandma Voigt did. How else would Dad have gotten hold of a paddle? Forty-odd years later, I still don’t remember doing anything so terrible (that they knew about) that would warrant a spanking on my bare ass with a piece of
made their decision about me the moment I walked out onstage. Still, they let me sing three very difficult arias. It’s no wonder I was so sensitive about the audition process. THE DECISION TO leave school early was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I was twenty-four years old in the summer of ’85, and my bags were packed and in the car, and so was John. We decided he’d leave his classes at Cal State, too, and come to San Francisco with me and we’d live together in sin. My parents weren’t
that the more weight I gained, the less evident my acting would be to an audience or a director. When you look at someone whose face is buried in fat, which mine was because I tend to carry weight in my face, and it was getting bigger and bigger, expressions don’t read as clearly—especially on a big stage. That’s why in my heavier days the makeup artists used to try to “paint on” features for me by shading and contouring the sides and underneath my face. Another obstacle for an audience when
traveling companion. And ever since Grandpa Voigt died, on Christmas Day a few years before, she and I had grown closer. I visited her every weekend during the year after he’d passed, and sat with her, holding her hand and listening to old family stories. And we’d had our first opera outing together, so the idea seemed inspired and a good fit. And it was, it really was—for the first five hours. By the time we got to our layover in New York, Grandma was already overworrying about the customs
all night and into the morning, until I left the hospital early the next day. I went to my hotel, took a shower, and was onstage rehearsing by ten a.m. After a small break and a nap, I was onstage, performing “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” from Annie Get Your Gun. How did I do it? It’s what I do. And an IV drip in my arm all night plus a pot of coffee didn’t hurt. Somehow, in my most insane moments I find an enormous amount of resilience. I wouldn’t call it sheer will, because my will would