listen to Open Conversation episodes also every other Tuesday on KJZZ 91.5, NPR member station in Phoenix, Arizona, a bit after 9:30 am PST.
recorded, produced by Regina Revazova
note: this content is intended for listening. This transcript might not be accurate. We advise to listen to the podcast to get full range of emotional highlights and other story elements.
“Hello. My name is Candice Ibanez, I am Soprano, born and raised here in Phoenix, Arizona, I’m a native. One of my job is I roll a gondola boat and sing Italian arias out on the water like in Venice. We’re the Venice of the west, and people are like, ‘There’s water in Arizona? What?’
“My day job is I’m a professional limo driver and I drive 35-foot black limo bus. But I love it because it gives me the flexibility to, when I have an audition, or a gig or something I can go away and still have work when I come back.
“Gosh, I’ve been through a lot. I put my life on hold for ten years for my ex-husband. Just as he got his citizenship and social security he asked for a divorce, so I was used for U.S. citizenship. Also, my dad who is very close to, he was a Vietnam veteran, he has a Bronze Star, suffered from PTSD. Even though he never drink he died of liver cancer. I took care of him. I was just gonna do the Phoenix Opera Vocal Competition but my daddy got sick. Even though he had three girlfriends they were nowhere to be found when he got ill.
“It’s always been an obstacle. So it’s just like, okay, when will my life begin? I want to get married again, but I’m not settling again. I have to make sure he’s supportive of my singing and my career, loves my son and that’s hard because men are selfish.
“I’ve always been a big girl, I’ve never be like a size two skinny twig. Luckily, plus size modeling is becoming the fashion and I’m like ‘Yes!’ I mean I realize I’m built to be an opera singer because I’m tall, I’m broad-shouldered, I’m statuesque. I always felt the reason I didn’t make an audition because I was too big, or too tall, or too fat, or… Now they want you to look like a, what’s that Russian girl named? Anna Netrebko. She got roles because she was gorgeous and that’s what I’ve been told by different people in the industry: not only you have to be the best but competing with other Sopranos you have to be an eye candy. Even to work on the cruises, I’m the right height but the biggest size they take is the size ten. Gosh, I’d be smoking hot as a size ten.
“I just got keep singing because when I’m happy then I’m not hungry and then I lose weight because I’m not eating because I’m singing.”
Listen to Casta Diva, by Candice Ibanez