Interview with The Opera Geek
As we’ve well established at this point, there are many different kinds of geeks. There is no way that I can list out all the different kinds of interests that geeks can have. A particular love and passion of mine deals with music; I geek out over music. As it turns out, so do a lot of other people who also identify as being geeks. Kelli Butler is no exception. The Opera Geek herself was gracious and kind enough to allow us to interview her.
GeekPost: We’ve had opportunities to listen to you sing. You have an amazing voice, btw. What first drew you to opera?
OperaGeek: Thank you so much! I was raised on opera, actually! My dad has a degree in vocal performance, though he ended up going a different route. He brought me up listening to the great voices of opera and teaching me the stories. He took me to my first opera when I was 13!
GeekPost: What is your favorite opera? Is there one that you’ve yet to perform in that you would like to?
OperaGeek: Favorite is hard since I tend to classify ‘favorite by composer’. For me, a few are Lucia di Lammermoor, Magic Flute, and Ballad of Baby Doe. I sing roles in all of them, but I haven’t gotten to do Lucia or Baby Doe yet, and I want to soooo much.
GeekPost: What first drew you to TTRPG?
OperaGeek: I didn’t actually play my first TTRPG until 2006, but I’d read books set in the D&D worlds & always loved JRPGs. Plus, I’ve always loved fantasy books. For me, TTRPG offers the same thing as the stage; when I found I could be someone else onstage as a teenager, and not the bullied nerd who ate alone in the theatre or library (LOL, I’m such a stereotype!), it changed a lot for me. TTRPG offers the same; a safe place in which to be someone else, and even explore aspects of your own personality that you are curious about.
GeekPost: I see that you helped created the College of the Opera Bard Subclass for 5e. How did that come about?
OperaGeek: It was a joke! I made a joke tweet because voice isn’t listed as an instrument in the sourcebook. It is kind of a sore point sometimes, because often backstage ‘musicians’ and ‘singers’ are listed separately – but trust me, the voice is an instrument! So I tweeted a joke about it and made up a few skills an opera bard could use, and Hannah messaged me with, “You know…we could do this.”
GeekPost: Is bard your favorite class to play? If not, do you have a favorite? Do you feel that being a musician yourself lends to playing a bard?
OperaGeek: Bard is certainly one of my favorite classes to play, especially in a one shot. Being a musician (THANK YOU!) definitely helps that feeling, but I always like to point out bards are storytellers. You can tell your story through music, singing, dancing, speaking, poetry…it is a bit endless! There is a reason we get the ‘jack of all trades’ feat.
…that, and we have to have so many day jobs.
GeekPost: What are your favorite types of videogames? Is there one game that you really enjoy and keep coming back to?
OperaGeek: Oh, RPGs 100%. The newer open world style ones took time to get used to after playing the JRPGs of the 90s, but I love them too! My favorite games are Final Fantasy 6, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, and The WItcher 3. I’d say simply because it’s on my PC and not on one of our old systems in the retro corner, I come back to Witcher a LOT.
GeekPost: What is your favorite thing about streaming on Twitch?
OperaGeek: The vast amount of people I’ve met there! There are so many amazing people in this community, many of whom simply don’t get the recognition they should.
GeekPost: What can someone expect from your Patreon?
OperaGeek: At the moment, I’ve been a bit frazzled with a lot of real-life stuff; so sadly, I haven’t been able to produce a lot of content for my Patreon. I let my patrons know how it stands, and that their money goes towards helping me continue to entertain people via streaming, etc. I’d love to be able to get back to producing content at a point, but there have been a lot of roadblocks; and sometimes people don’t understand the time commitment it can be. My Patreon community is the bee’s knees. They are wonderful, supportive individuals – and one thing we DO have is a Discord! Whether it is opera questions, venting, silly memes, or bouncing TTRPG ideas off each other, I hope I’ve curated a fun and safe space for people to chill.
GeekPost: GeekPost strives to promote inclusivity. Has there been a time in your career that you’ve had challenges to overcome?
OperaGeek: Any challenges I’ve faced pale in comparison to those of my Black, POC, and LGBTQIA+ colleagues – I wouldn’t put inclusivity as a challenge for me as a cis white woman. Perception challenges, yes; I joke about how I’m often seen as ‘too tall’ to be a romantic lead opposite a shorter costar, for example. But I would love to give you some names of some people who could speak beautifully on this topic!
I’d say if inclusivity has at all presented a challenge, the area it definitely affects me personally and professionally is that I am a neurodivergent individual. Quite often, there just isn’t space to process things the way neurodivergent individuals need to (and every one of us is different). Working through some of the obstacles my mental health and neurodivergence (two different things!) like to toss in my path can in fact be a challenge, and there is still quite a bit of stigma attached.
GeekPost: Thank you. We’d love to speak with others open to sharing their challenges and experiences with inclusivity. So, what does being a geek mean to you?
OperaGeek: Love. Being a geek means loving something so much, you just have to participate in it, learn about it, and share it with others…often very enthusiastically! Geek doesn’t only apply to fantasy, sci-fi, videogames, TTRPGS etc…it can be about a book series (*cough* Discworld *cough*), sports team, anything really.
What being a geek DOES NOT MEAN is ‘exclusion’. Sure, many of us have been on the outside looking in. It hurts. It is cold out there. So why in the world would you try to slam the door in the faces of other people just because they are new to the geekdom or trying to learn more? Don’t be a gatekeeper. Don’t try to exclude others just because you were excluded (or are excluded) yourself.
Thank you so much Kelli for an insightful and wonderful interview. It was a joy to get to know you and share you with our readers.
Photography credit for all pictures except for the last three images, goes to Juan Calcano. The last three pictures’ photography credit goes to Russell Andrade.