The Kiwi-American opera singer who fled Russia is on the hunt for a dress
Opera singer Patricia Westley left behind her stage dresses when she fled Russia hours after that country invaded Ukraine. As a Lexus Song Quest semi-finalist, she hopes someone can lend her some dresses for the competition.
Lexus Song Quest semi-finalist Patricia Westley had just scored the experience of a lifetime two months before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Kiwi-American opera singer had won an Atkins Foundation scholarship to work at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. And she had found an apartment, made new friends and was in rehearsal for a production when the news broke.
“Within 24 hours they had closed my bank account and all the overseas bank accounts,” Westley says. “It happened incredibly fast. This was going to be my dream opportunity, but I only had six hours to get back to my apartment, pack a bag and go to the airport. I only had time to do that. only one suitcase.
Westley was born in Culverden, but was educated in the United States when her Kiwi father went to work there. She received her master’s degree in music from the University of Oklahoma and performed in numerous opera productions for several years. But the St. Petersburg experience was to be a highlight.
* Covid casts a shadow over the ingenious and carefully crafted La Traviata opening night
* The refurbished St James makes Wellington a little cooler
* Emily Mwila: The Kiwi Songbird singing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York
She says that when it comes to the items she had to leave behind in Russia, not being able to take her dresses home was the hardest thing to bear. So she put out a call on social media to see if anyone could help lend a dress for the competition.
“I lost a lot of my stuff, but the biggest loss of all was the loss of my performance dresses which I painstakingly recovered over the years,” she says. “Performance smocks are hard to find and are an invaluable tool in our trade as we cannot perform without them. I am looking for something to wear and I would be very grateful if you lend me a nice dress for this important competition.
“I thought I would go back,” she says. “No one thought what was happening was actually happening. The young Russians want to leave, but cannot. It’s so upsetting. I love Russian culture and people, and almost none of them want it (this war).
Westley is now in Wellington, thanks to Lexus Song Quest, and hopes to find work in New Zealand and Australia. “I have family in both countries,” she says. “As much as I would love to return to the Mariinsky Theater in Russia, who knows if that will be possible. I hope the Lexus Song Quest will open doors for me here.
Westley’s recent experience includes a role in Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice after fleeing Russia, and numerous roles with Palm Beach Opera in the past year.
She can be reached via her website.