Calgary soprano works summers at karaoke bar to fund Berlin opera career

While soprano Kathleen Morrison sings professionally in Berlin most of the year, she spends her summers in Calgary serving beer at Ducky's Pub.

Kathleen Morrison says she's inspired by Ducky's Pub patrons who sing cover songs

Kathleen Morrison spends the summers waitressing at Ducky's Pub in Calgary and the rest of the year singing opera professionally in Berlin. (Smoke Show Photography)

It's a long way from the set of Mozart's Magic Flute to serving beer at a karaoke bar, but it's a lifestyle Kathleen Morrison has become accustomed to.

The Calgary-born soprano spends most of the year in Berlin singing professionally, but returns home in the summer to waitress at Ducky's Pub.

"It's a pretty tough road just to live off your voice alone," said the 31-year-old. "I'm at the point of my career where I can live about eight to nine months off my voice. It's getting better every year, but I still have to fill those gaps a little bit."

Morrison has been steadily building her career in Germany for the past three years.

She says the country, which has 250 opera houses, offers far more opportunities than Canada for budding vocalists.

"It's a lot more in their culture. You know, going to the opera in Germany is kind of like going to the movies here."

While Morrison has never picked up the mic at Ducky's Pub, she says she's inspired by the patrons who do get up on stage.

"You know a lot of my regulars will get up there and sing some ACDC or Guns N' Roses and they'll come back and sit down and they'll be like, 'Kathleen, I really nailed that high-note, right?' They've got a really great relationship with music. So it's nice to be around singers that just are doing it for fun," she said.

Kathleen Morrison performing at The Chicago Chophouse in Calgary. (

This fall, Morrison will return to Berlin to play the role of Adele in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus and Gretel in the fairy tale opera, Hansel and Gretel.

But before she boards that plane, she's be putting on a special concert in the city featuring all the repertoire from her last three years in Germany. 

"It's really a way to show my Calgary crew just what I've been up to," said Morrison. 

Arias, Songs, and Tales from the Operatic Trenches: A Soprano's Berlin Adventure starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the National Music Centre.