Divas to Sing in the Ring at Downtown Boxing Gym

It’s a matchup in the ring like you’ve never seen before - think Thrilla in Manilla minus the boxing gloves and with a whole lot of opera. Yes, opera!

The Downtown Boxing Gym is thrilled to host Diva Cage Match on Sunday, March 31, presented by Opera MODO. Six opera stars will compete in a three-round, knockdown, drag out singing competition to be crowned the ultimate Opera Diva Champion.

Founded in Minneapolis, the cage match event will pit three local divas against three out-of-towners in rounds of sing-offs judged by celebrity judges. Mary Martin, Leslie Mason, and Katrina Van Maanen make up the “home” team and will diva off against Emily Barnash, Jenny Cresswell and Nicole Joseph.

Local Detroit influencers Jason Hall, Simone Vitale, Michelle Johnson and Munch will have the tough task of deciding who wins. Although, they’re excited about the opportunity, these judges will have their work cut out for them. The rounds haven’t even started yet and the divas aren’t holding anything back.

Mary Martin, known for her refined soprano voice, says she’ll win because she always goes above and beyond.

“I know most of these divas, and they’re wonderful people and colleagues,” Martin says. “But, I will bring you that extra dazzle dazzle and fun that represents the spirit of Detroit!”

She says she’s even got a little wrestling experience.

“My older brother is a professional wrestler, so your girl has a bit of insight into the ring,” Martin adds. “I spent my childhood being frog splashed and power-bombed onto our living room couch.”

Leslie Mason, a fan favorite at previous Opera MODO events, says she’s ready to fight her biggest competitor; herself.

“I go into every situation trying to beat my personal best every time,” she explains. “I am always in competition with myself and feel as artists we should all support and uplift each other. Beating each other is secondary to using our artistry to inspire people to go out and make the world a better place.”

Originally from St. Petersburg, Fla. and now living in Chicago, diva Emily Barnash believes she has what it takes to win the competition. She started her music career at the age of 7 in the children’s choir at her church.

“I’m your down to earth diva who doesn’t follow the rules and that’s what we need more of in today’s world,” Barnash says. “I won’t be put in a box. I’m a woman who sings high and low, power lifts, and belts Barracuda by Heart.”

Katrinan Van Maanen, who has appeared on stages around the world including concerts at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Traverse City Wine & Opera Festival, has a warning for her fellow contestants.

“I may be small, but I pack a big punch,” Maanen says.

As for the remaining divas, Nicole Joseph received her Masters and Specialist Degree in Voice from the University of Michigan. Jenny Cresswell, a frequent performer with the Toledo Opera, wants the judges to know she’s always got something up her sleeve.

“Never count me out,” Cresswell says. “I'm full of surprises.”

Proceeds from Diva Cage Match will go to the Downtown Boxing Gym to support our free academic and athletic program for Detroit students ages 8-18 and Opera MODO. Opera MODO is a new opera company in Detroit that helps young singers develop their skills and gain experience.

Click here to purchase tickets and for more info about the big event. May the best diva win!

Diva Cage Match was conceived and first produced by Out of the Box Opera and is being presented by Opera MODO and the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program under agreement with Out of the Box Opera.

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