Color Me Vivid

When I was a little girl, Barbra Streisand did a musical special on TV called “Color me Barbra.” It was filmed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was a celebration of art and music.

Of course I didn’t watch it at that time, because my parents hated Barbra Streisand and wouldn’t let me – but I knew about it and heard the album a few years later. But here’s the opening number (the entire show is available on YouTube):

I grew up in a time of really ugly colors. Avocado green, harvest gold, sickly pale pinks, and muddy beiges pretty much dictated the color scheme of my childhood.

I always wanted more, or at least to do something interesting with the color palette that I had at my disposal. I remember convincing my parents to let me paint my ceiling gold. I don’t remember what colors the walls were, but the ceiling was gold (maybe they were green – my HS colors were green and gold). And I added accent colors in the form of two plastic lamps, one a emerald green and the other purple, that substituted for the black light or lava lamps that my parents wouldn’t let me have.

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What I REALLY wanted

That was the first time I paired green and purple together, come to think of it.

The next time was in a production of La Traviata with the Florentine Opera (when they hired me, before I was actually good). My gown was purple and green, with gold fringe. This was such a departure from the usual mud-colored chorus outfits that I’d had up to that point (and since then, mostly), that it thrilled me. I remember calling my ex-MIL-to-be and telling her how excited I was about the dress. (This was a woman who never met a shade of oatmeal or gray that she didn’t love – despite the fact that she had the bluest eyes and most striking white hair and any jewel tone would have looked glorious on her.) I remember her saying, incredulously, in her thick German accent:

“Purple und green? And you like it?”
“Purple und green….. and you like it? Really.”

Yes, I did. Really. And I still do.

Opera costume
This is actually from years later, in Verlobung in Traum at Washington Opera, but it’s similar

When I remarried in 2003, my original plan was to get married in an off-white dress, because, it was a wedding. And on the way home, I realized — I hate off-white. I look terrible in off-white. So I called back the seamstress and said, “You know that accent color I wanted for the sleeves? I’ve decided that I want my dress to be that color. We can do the sleeves in off-white instead. And I want some purple in the embroidery. And maybe some gold, too.”

My wedding dress
Me with my bridesmaid, Caroline Widegren

(We look about 19 there, and we are both women over 30 – in my case, well over 30. Dang!)

Since then, my colors have skewed more towards purple and teal (which is closer to my eye color), and the purple is even starting to migrate more towards a violet. This can be demonstrated in the colors that I have put on my head in the last year and a half.

Teal and violet hair
Color by Theresa Zak of Crafted Hair Salon

I was reading in Susan Blakey’s blog Une femme d’un certain age about the idea of “dopamine dressing,” and how little pops of color can lift your mood, especially in the winter, when people are prone to seasonal affective disorder due to the lack of light. Susan tends toward dressing with a base neutrals with a little pop of color as an accent.

I suppose my head is my accent color, but I still like to wear colors as well.

This weekend, I am having the studio painted the colors I want. After 6 years of living in a house with an interior that is mostly shades of beige (although much more tastefully done than the muddy beiges of my childhood), we are both ready for color.

Three of the studio walls are going to be a shade of teal and the fourth wall a color called “passionate purple,” which also matches my front door. The curtains are a teal/turquoise tie-dye (another thing my parents wouldn’t let me have, along with the lava lamps). I’m thrilled by it.

Studio color scheme

The rest of the house won’t be quite as vibrant (some might say loud), but it will definitely reflect who we are. And we are not beige people. And this … this is decidedly beige.


I can’t wait till my colors are up and my furniture is all back where I want it! Although I suspect not everything will make it back into the room….

How do you feel about color? Tell me in the comments!

If you’d like to work on your vocal color, there are a few openings
in the studio beginning in February.
Find out how to work with me in 2022!

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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