Get to know our new Executive Director, Anne-Carolyn Bird!

Where are you from? 

This is always a tricky question for me: I’m an Air Force Brat! Oddly enough, that itinerant childhood prepared me for the life of a professional opera singer in many ways: I can be instantly at home anywhere and with anyone, I love travel but am also a homebody, and I learned German at an early age. I have lived in Utah, Washington, New York, Georgia, Illinois, and Maine – to name a few!

What was the first opera you saw or experienced?

My first experience with opera was probably the recording of Amahl and the Night Visitors that my father played around Christmas time. We were more of a folk music family than classical, but quotes from Amahl were always part of our daily life. First opera I saw live: something dark and gloomy at the Atlanta Opera circa 1993; clearly I wasn’t ready to discover opera. First opera the made me fall in love with opera: the Zeffirelli film of La traviata with Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo.

How did you know you loved performing/opera/classical music?

When I was 10, I played the Maud, the no-nonsense cleaning lady, in a performance of The Capricious Pearls with the Loring Air Force Base Children’s Theater. At one point, something I said made the audience laugh – and I was hooked! After being part of the theater and music crowd in high school, I truly discovered opera in college when I realized that opera combines all the arts that I love – music, dance, theater, visual art, storytelling. It’s an incredible art form, truly boundless in its scope and reach.

What were your favorite roles / performing experiences?

Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro is hands-down my favorite role (See next question!). As for experiences: sharing the stage of the Metropolitan Opera with Anna Netrebko in Manon and L’elisir d’amore and with Bryn Terfel for his final Figaro; premiering John Musto’s Inspector at Wolf Trap; and working with director RB Schlather on David Lang’s Little Match Girl

Passion.  Meeting David Bowie after a performance of Golijov’s La pasion segun san Marcos was also a highlight! For the past several years, I have enjoyed learning the role of supporting and creating opera from the other side of the stage. I look forward to building on everything I’ve learned and experienced in my career to help UrbanArias grow into its next decade – and beyond.

Tell us about your family!

I met my husband, Matt Burns, when we were singing Figaro and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at Grand Rapids Opera in 2007 – and we were married within the year! In non-pandemic times, he is on the road performing about 60% of the year. In addition to his operatic talents, Matt discovered a passion and penchant for the finer points of the wine business several years ago, and when not performing he works at Total Wine and is the founder of Magnum Opus Tasting Concerts. We have two precocious children: Henry, age 10, and Gloria, age 5. Henry loves dinosaurs, dragons, music, magic, and being silly with his dad. Gloria (aka GG) loves sparkles and frills and unicorns, getting dirty, being in kindergarten, and snuggling with her mom.

What song do you have on repeat right now?

It is an eclectic mix at our house! We love piano-based songwriters, so lots of Billy Joel, Ben Folds, Regina Spektor; also early 00’s pop like The Shins, New Pornographers, Feist, Sufjan Stevens. Of course, the Beatles! The soundtracks to a dozen animated films, and my guilty secret: Harry Styles.

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