The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Opera diva Deborah Voigt comes clean in her new memoir about her weight-loss surgery as well as her addictions to food, online dating and alcohol. | January 23, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about living a life that sounds like an opera.

Take opera diva Deborah Voigt (below).

Deborah  Voigt

Voigt is supremely talented.

And now it turns out that the opera star is also supremely honest. And boy, does she have some great stories to tell — stories that don’t always reflect well on the opera world, let alone herself.

In her new memoir, “Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva,” the opera star talks about her childhood, her career, her gastric by-pass weight-loss surgery in 2004 and other problems including her abuse of alcohol, her dangerous relationships with men she met online and of course her relationships with food and music.

deborah voigt memoir book cover

Here is pre-surgery Fat Debbie:

Deborah Voigt fat in 2013

Here is post-surgery Thin Debbie, playing Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner‘s “Ring” cycle for the Metropolitan Opera:

Thin Deborah-Voigt as Brunnhilde

Voigt also comes off as a thoughtful woman who does not shun her own individual responsibility for her problems, but who sees them in a social and even sexist context, such as the double standard in opera for heavy men like the legendary and obese tenor Luciano Pavarotti (below) and heavy women like herself.

Luciano Pavarotti

The Ear offers you a roundup of reviews and interviews about the new book.

Here is an interview with Scott Simon on NPR or National Public Radio:

Here is a piece from The Wall Street Journal with a Q&A interview:

Here is the take in the popular People magazine:

And here is a nitty-gritty account in The New York Post:

But let’s not forget the talent and great voice that make all these other things noteworthy. So here is Deborah Voigt’s most popular video on YouTube:



  1. Agree with the previous comment about the brilliant rendition by Deborah Voight of Wagner in the attached YouTube. Kudos to her and her courage for opening this window on to the pressures of the opera world, especially those for a lady. At the same time, I believe that her revelations (her true stories in classical music) would fit right in with the “Mozart in the Jungle” revelations (see story previous to this). Especially this humorous but true tale she revealed to the Wall Street Journal about Jesse Norman: “These are stories the opera public doesn’t get to hear, these funny little things that go on. Don’t you think the HD cameras would just love to see Jessye Norman walking on stage with air being spritzed in front of her?” And this comment about Luciano Pavarotti (who also had weight problems) calling her at 2 in the morning after she she had gastric by pass surgery: “I was stunned. Without us having to say it, I knew we had both experienced the same thing, the same sort of frustration with weight and feelings of helplessness and I got that, the minute he said why he was calling. I felt bad. He’s Luciano Pavarotti! It was an amazing moment.”

    Comment by fflambeau — January 23, 2015 @ 10:18 pm

  2. The Youtube clip is a brilliant rendition of Dich Teure Halle!

    Comment by Marius — January 23, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

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