Memoir

Coloratura

Autobiography of a blind opera singer

Memoir / This refreshing memoir recounts the young life of the mezzo soprano, and now Hawaii resident, Laurie Rubin, who’s in her early thirties. It opens with the innocuous question asked backstage by a young girl, “Do you dream in color?” For most people, the question would be easy enough. Rubin, however, has never seen any color but occasional white light. She has been blind since birth.

Despite her youth, Rubin’s story is unique and compelling. Hers is not a book filled with flowery flourishes or powerful prose; her art is singing,and she speaks simply and directly. This unadorned prose is for the best, because her story by its nature skates on the thin edge of cliche at every turn, and one adornment too many would have yielded sappiness or skepticism. The balance is maintained, though Rubin has faced a myriad of obstacles and a raft of nearly miraculous opportunities in her short life. Sshe worked hard for her success, and she is definitely not looking for sympathy, nor is this a predictable tale of uplifting inspiration.

Rubin’s frankness sings in its own way. The first few pages introduce her same-sex significant other, and the opening vignette reveals that she has a penchant for imagined drama, tempered, thankfully, but an ability not to take herself too seriously.

Within a few pages, the story becomes irresistibly intriguing. Obviously, she has to learan to navigate a complex world without a sense most of us take for granted. It is the day-to-day detail, told from the perspective of that stark inner dialogue, that makes her life a plausible read.

After a few short years, Rubin has begun to meet the best possible mix of people to help her along. From being befriended, when she was five or six years old, by Kenny Loggins, she advances, under her own steam, to meeting an array of classical luminaries–by virtue of her talent, not her infirmity. Today, she has grown to an adulthood of unquestionably world-class prowess and status in opera circles.

Rubin’s prose could use some development, but she is, after all, still young. And her sightlessness has provided her existential and human experience enough to qualify as insight. If she does an installment every decade or so, the result should be transcendental.

Do you dream in color: Insights from a Girl without Sight,

Laurie Rubin

Seven Stories Press, 2012

Paperback $18.95, 400 pages