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The merest glance at American mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin’s sassy-looking website (www.laurie-rubin.com), complete with beguiling sound-clips, demonstrates that not for a second has she let her blindness get in the way of living the dream of a musical career. Do You Dream In Color?, an autobiography many years in the writing, spells out Rubin’s story in (yes) colourful, novelistic fashion across nigh on 400 pages. Some may find the chatty style off-putting to a degree, but there’s no missing the authentic tone in which the many victories over her disability are described.

By chance, Rubin was discovered at the age of five to have perfect pitch. Supportive parents and inspiring teachers in the early years are key to the success of most musicians – and there are heroes aplenty here. The musical journey that developed led to the Oberlin Conservatoire and to Yale, to lessons with Joan Sutherland at the Britten-Pears School at Aldeburgh, to recitals at Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and to recording with pianist Graham Johnson.

However, the real dream fulfilment for Rubin has been achieving her heart’s desire of working in opera, an ambition instilled by a childhood passion for The Phantom of the Opera. For many readers, this is where particular interest will lie as Rubin recounts in detail how she has been trained (and has taught herself) to cope with the added multiple challenges of working on stage without the benefit of sight. Intriguingly, she has also found time to launch her own jewellery range.

As you would expect, though, this is as much as anything else a chronicle of what it means to be blind in a world built around sightedness, with the added dimension of Rubin’s complete openness about her lesbian identity. Does she dream in colour? I’ll leave you to find out.

ANDREW GREEN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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