Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Destined for the stage

Angel Joy Blue ’05 visits the University before moving to New York City to open the season in the title role of Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera. (Photo by William Vasta)

An opera singer, BBC presenter, world traveler, and mother, Angel Joy Blue ’05 has performed on the biggest stages of the world. Blue, often lauded for her voice’s power, sensitivity, and agility, was a music major (with Hebraic studies minor) at Redlands.

This summer, Blue and her family moved to New York City to fulfill her long-term contract with the Metropolitan Opera, where she opens the season in the title role of Porgy and Bess (featured recently in The New York Times).

Here are some things to know about Blue and her career. Blue is:

An Inland Empire native: Growing up in Apple Valley, California, Blue spent her formative years watching her father, a pastor and classically trained singer, onstage. “I had the opportunity to see how much joy and excitement he got from [performing],” she says, “and that just rubbed off onto me.” Aside from imparting a love for classical music, Blue’s dad also gave her advice she heeds to this day: “He taught me that a good-sounding voice is a well-rested voice, so I try to sleep as much as I can!”

A natural performer: Blue always knew she would one day become a performer. “As a kid, I would see myself coming out from behind a curtain, and then people would start clapping. I would listen to live recordings of opera singers. At the end, when the applause became really big, I would get these huge emotions, and start crying or get really excited.” She credits her family with supporting her talent at a young age. By the time she was attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (a daily two-hour commute from Apple Valley), she was participating in Miss America pageants and performing at the Redlands Bowl. After graduating from Redlands, she earned her music master’s degree in opera performance from the University of California, Los Angeles, and, from there, was asked to join the Young Artist Program at Los Angeles Opera. “I believe [singing] is what God put me on earth to do.” 

Inspired by those who went before: Ten years into her career, Blue has experienced challenges and triumphs. “As an African American singer, I look at people like [American soprano] Leontyne Price or [Spanish opera singer] Victoria de Los Ángeles. Those women were so amazing and were great performers in a time of great struggle. I’m not in a time of great struggle, so surely I can do it as well, you know?”

Blue’s starring roles include Mimi in La Boheme; Floria Tosca in the Tosca; and, most recently, the tragic heroine Violetta in La Traviata (a role she performed at both the Royal Opera House in London and at La Scala in Milan). Stellar reviews of her performances, from The New York Times to the Guardian, makes Blue’s work look easy, but she says: “When I started out, I [had a tendency to] overcompensate. Now it’s a bit easier because I’ve established myself. After I learn something new, I can put it away and then come back to it with a better understanding of what the music is.”

A champion of Bulldog pride: Blue credits the University of Redlands with helping to form her career. “I was allowed to make a lot of mistakes, given a lot of grace,” she says of her college years. It was a gift, especially as Blue was learning what kind of music she wanted to sing. “Had I not been able to make those mistakes, I would not have grown on my own as a person and a musician.”

Redlands was also where she met her husband, Adam Mielke, in 2004; three years ago, they married and held their wedding reception at Redlands’ University Hall. “I’m really thankful the U of R keeps me on their radar,” she says. “It makes me feel the same sense of community that I felt when I was attending the University.”

Learn more about the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Music at the University of Redlands.