In the last three days I have devoured and finished Deborah Voigt’s new autobiography Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-To-Earth Diva. I found her story fascinating, less so from her musical perspective but more so from her struggles with her addictions: Eating, alcohol, and men. Her target audience, I feel, should include not only opera fans, but also those struggling to overcome addictions in general. Through her comparisons between the roles she sang and her own life events, she made both opera and her diseases accessible and easy to understand for readers. I particularly liked her comparison of her own life to Sieglinde, as both of them were forlorn and feeling trapped in the lives they were living; Voigt due to her own physical and emotional constraints, and Sieglinde due to her unhappy marriage to Hunding.
If everything in the book is true, it seems as if Voigt did not hold anything back. She goes into gruesome detail about the amounts of food she gorged, leading to her heaviness and embarrassment from events such as the “Little Black Dress” predicament. Nothing is sugarcoated; she puts everything out in the open. Despite some grammatical and factual errors, such as discussing a “Minister” as a character in Götterdämmerung, it remained sincere and authentic.
Her sincerity truly touched me the most at the very end. At one point during the time she is in rehab for alcoholism, she describes how she was assigned to draw a Tree of Life, on which she drew her dog Steinway, music notes, and other happy thoughts. She then drew a Tree of Hope, on which she depicted herself as happy and free, which are the exact characteristics she was striving to achieve for herself throughout the entirety of the book. I was left in tears knowing that she was able to pick herself up through drawing after years of suffering.
Voigt’s new book truly made me appreciate her journey to becoming and conquering her career as an opera singer. It also made me more thankful than ever that she is still alive on this Earth and benefiting the world of music.