“There were times when I would come home from school, and he would just randomly beat me — just to teach me a lesson.” Breanna Sinclairé’s intolerant, evangelical father would also go on to stab her in the back — metaphorically speaking — when she was briefly living homeless on the streets of New York a decade ago. “I was asking him if I could have a little bit of money to eat, because I couldn’t get a job because I was trans.” His response? “You deserve this life. Don’t call me or speak to me ever again.”
And so the 26-year-old hasn’t — not to share news of her burgeoning success as an in-demand opera singer, nor to invite her father to concerts in D.C., just down the parkway from his home in Baltimore. Next weekend, she joins the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington as a soloist for the Durufle Requiem. Music Director Thea Kano adapted the 20th-century classical masterpiece for tenor and bass chorus, plus live orchestra. Sinclairé will be the rare soprano in the program.
“I always felt female even when I was really, really young,” she says. “I didn’t want to sing in the tenor section at church, I wanted to be in the soprano or alto section in the choir, so it was hard for me.” She didn’t formally switch from tenor to soprano until midway through college in California. “I told my teachers, ‘I’m transitioning to a woman, I really don’t feel comfortable singing tenor and playing heroic roles.'” They didn’t believe me at first, [but eventually] they said, ‘Okay, well, we’ll try our best, but this is new for us.'”
Above all else, Sinclairé wants to inspire other transgender people to pursue their dreams. “Hopefully my calling as an opera singer will get other trans youth to feel like, ‘Oh, if she can do that, I can do this,'” she says. “I want trans folks to feel like we can do anything — we can be lawyers, we can be doctors, we can be therapists, we can work in transport. We can do whatever we want.”
The Durufle Requiem is Saturday, March 3, at 8 p.m., at the Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW. Tickets are $60. Call 202-293-1548 or visit gmcw.org.
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