Madelaine Lane: Lawyer by Day, Operatic Performer by Night

Madelaine Lane
Madelaine Lane

When Madelaine Lane graduated from college she couldn’t decide whether she should go to law school and achieve her life-long ambition to become an attorney or return to college and get a second degree in her new-found passion: vocal performance.

Instead, she found a way to pursue both dreams.

A partner in the Grand Rapids law firm of Warner, Norcross + Judd, Lane just returned home from a starring role last weekend in the New York Lyric Opera’s concert performance of “Don Giovanni.”

“Opera is completely different from my day job. It’s a good escape,” Lane says. “Doing opera and law makes me sharper in both arenas.”

Lane, 35, credits good time management for being able to excel in both areas. She spent two weeks in New York so she could be available for rehearsals but continued to do work for her Grand Rapids office via computer.

“I am lucky to work for a company that embraces the idea of working remotely,” she said. “Technology can be wonderful. It allows me to do both dreams.”

Madelaine Lane performed with the New York Lyric Opera last year in an opera showcase at Carnegie Hall.
Madelaine Lane performed with the New York Lyric Opera last year in an opera showcase at Carnegie Hall.

Technology also opened the door to her singing role in New York. Lane first performed with the New York Lyric Opera last year in an opera showcase at Carnegie Hall where she sang the Countess in the Sull’aria Duet (Letter Duet), from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” She got that role by responding to an online audition notice with a video audition. The showcase performance was so successful that the New York Lyric Opera invited her to perform in “Don Giovanni” this year.

The two-night concert performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at New York’s National Opera Center was trimmed to 90 minutes. Roles were double-cast to provide more opportunities for budding professional singers as well as insurance against flu season dropouts. Lane sang the leading role of Donna Anna in the opening night cast.

“I had so much fun preparing for New York,” Lane said. “The journey to the performance is as important as the performance.”

Although Lane was born in New York, her family moved to Grand Rapids when she was a baby. She grew up performing in children’s shows at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and graduated from City High.

“No one in my family was an attorney but I watched “Matlock” on TV and always wanted to be a lawyer. I was always interested in public speaking in high school.”

Lane began taking voice lessons when she was a student at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. She said she briefly considered dropping plans to attend law school at Wayne State University to pursue a degree in vocal performance, but her mother suggested she continue the original plan and sing on the side.

“A law degree made it possible to do both,” she said. “I didn’t have to choose between them.”

A litigator who focuses on white-collar criminal defense, Lane said she feels most alive when she is in front of people.

“Like opera, being a trial lawyer is all about a performance – you must study hard, know your role and play it well.”

Madelaine Lane at St. Cecilia Music Center.
Madelaine Lane at St. Cecilia Music Center.

Both opera and law can be very demanding. Lane said she is careful about time management and self-care. She watches her diet, gets plenty of rest and always makes time for spinning and yoga.

“I try not to schedule voice lessons after a full day of trial.”

Lane had a small role in Opera Grand Rapids’ 2014 production of “Madama Butterfly” but really got involved in opera through the West Michigan Opera Project.

“I fell in love with it. Opera has everything I loved about theater, but I have to sing the play in a different language. Part of me enjoys the challenge.”

West Michigan Opera Project is Artist in Residence at First Park Congregational Church. By providing free, local performances the project helps develop artists and audiences that will learn about opera and go buy a ticket to Opera Grand Rapids and other venues, Lane said.

Lane will soon check off two singing roles that have been on her wish list.

In March, she will sing Gioachino Rossini’s oratorio “Stabat Mater” in a pair of performances marking Palm Sunday weekend. Sponsored by Opera Grand Rapids, “Stabat Mater and Four Sacred Songs” will feature the Holland Chorale and Park Singers with performances at 3 p.m. March 24 at Christ Memorial Church in Holland and 7:30 p.m. March 25 at First Park Congregational Church in Grand Rapids. Tickets, $20, are available through Opera Grand Rapids, 616.451.2741.

Lane’s second dream role comes true next year when she will sing the title role in the West Michigan Opera Project’s production of “Madama Butterfly.”

“Every performance opportunity is a blessing,” Lane said. “I get to sing in the evening and go to work in the morning. I am truly lucky.”

Learn more about Lane at her website.

*Photos courtesy of Madelaine Lane

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