Singer Spotlight: MELISSA LYONS CALDRETTI
Melissa has worked extensively in theatre and concerts throughout California, and she traveled the U.S. and Canada as Eponine in the Broadway Touring Company of LES MISERABLES. She has recorded numerous voice-overs for Mattel and is the singing voice of Barbie for films, toys, albums and commercials, including the animated features “Barbie as the Island Princess” and “Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.” She holds a Masters in Music from CSULB and a B.A. in Music from UCLA. Melissa currently teaches voice in the musical theatre department at Fullerton College.
Name, Hometown, Current town.
Melissa Lyons Caldretti,
Born in Fullerton, CA
Currently live in Fullerton, CA
How do you use your voice professionally?
I sing for concerts, musicals, and recordings, and I teach voice.
First professional gig.
My first paid gig was for a production of Fiddler on the Roof for Fullerton Civic Light Opera. I was 15 and in the ensemble, and I understudied Chava. I made $100 for the run and I was thrilled to work with Equity actors for the first time. The SoCal theatre scene is a small one and I have continued to know and work with so many of the people involved with that production!
Favorite Pre-gig ritual or warm up.
I have to have a Venti Iced Americano from Starbucks before every show, or nothing works.
Three item you use to keep your voice strong and why you love them so much.
Neil Med sinus rinse kit, a personal steamer, and daily warm-ups. I’ve had my steamer forever—it’s not one of the fancy new ones—but it works like a charm.
Three items you keep in the studio or in your dressing room.
Sugar-free Gatorade, a large bag of original Ricolas, and a pitch pipe.
Right now it’s my new Asus laptop that I got last spring when everything went online. I only use it for teaching online and for recording, and it’s been such a gift.
Three things you can’t live without.
Water, coffee and Aveda products.
I’m currently teaching voice at Fullerton College, and I also have a large private studio. I’m working on a solo recital that will premiere virtually this summer for a state music conference.
How do you stay creative when not working or when quarantined?
These days I’m doing a ton of recording and I’m working on my mixing skills. I do teach quite a bit, but I usually try and record something at least once a week on one of my days off. I also love researching music and finding new songs!
Who has most inspired you?
My life-long friend and mentor, Tim MacDougall, loved music so much and just lived for his voice students and their accomplishments. He passed away in 2019 after a 7-year battle with stage 4 colon cancer, and I never heard him complain once. He was incredibly generous with his time and his gifts, and his words of wisdom from decades-long friendship pop up in my thoughts daily.
Who are your favorite voices?
I have so many favorite divas! Karen Carpenter, Linda Ronstadt, Ella Fitzgerald, Audra MacDonald, Liz Callaway, Jane Monheit, Cecilia Bartoli…..
Most unforgettable performance you have seen or heard.
I’ll never forget Audra MacDonald’s incredible concert at Royce Hall in 2000. She was doing a very quick rendition of “I Wish I Were in Love Again” and forgot the words and had to restart! She gave a talk-back after the concert and was just so cool.
Crazy audition story or onstage/studio snafoo.
When I was on the road with Les Mis, the turn table and the barricades used to break down from time to time—always in the middle of a scene. We often had to scramble to fix our blocking, and we usually felt pretty silly.
And one time when we were playing Washington D.C. in December, the fire alarm went off in the theatre towards the beginning of the first act. All of ladies were in the middle of a costume change. The entire company had to exit the theatre, and we all stood out in the freezing snowy cold in our bloomers and corsets with our dressing robes thrown on top…..with the audience members right beside us!
Best gig ever!
I have to say Les Miserables. It was a huge part of my life for 5 years and I met some of my best friends on that show.
How do you relax after a performance or long session?
I usually want to go out to eat!
What are you most proud of?
I haven’t always been great at this, but this past year I think I’ve done a good job at adapting and learning new things.
Biggest challenge of your career.
In 2018, I got sick and I ended up with a vocal cord injury. I had to have surgery, and I was terrified I would never sing again. I had the very best doctor, Reena Gupta, and although it seemed like a miracle, I was back singing about a month later. I’m almost three years out from my surgery and my voice is stronger than ever. I’m so grateful for Dr. Gupta. She has helped so many people.
How have you dealt with disappointments in the field?
Age and perspective help. There’s always going to be someone who is more gifted, more driven, or just luckier than you. Every artist is unique, and I do believe there’s enough room for everyone. It’s important to just remember why you love your field and keep going.
What do you do when you’re not working?
In a normal year, you can find me at Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm on one of my days off. Hopefully I’ll get to go back soon!
What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?
Years ago I was at my voice lesson with my teacher Calvin Remsberg, and I lamented how I hadn’t been working out or practicing lately. He looked at me sternly and said: “Why not? Because if you’re not doing those things, somebody else is. And they will get the job.” It was a truth I needed to hear!
What are your words of advice for aspiring singers and speakers?
Your uniqueness will be what gets you hired, so don’t try to be like anyone else. Also, adapt and evolve!
Where we can find you?
Facebook, of course, and Instagram @singingmissyrose