Ryan Speedo Green may be a critically-acclaimed opera star, but this was not always the case.
The 32-year-old baritone perform is a former juvenile detention inmate who spent years enduring abuse and conflict before he finally found his calling at the Metropolitan Opera.
Raised in a troubled household, Green grew up in a Virginian neighborhood that was primarily composed of crackhouses and drug addicts. Green, as a fourth grader, lived with his abusive mother. The unhealthy environment contributed to the youngster having difficulty controlling his emotions, and due to the escalation of violent outbursts at school and home, he was eventually placed in a juvenile detention center at the age of 12 – and his most difficult moments were spent in solitary confinement.
“Being in this cell was the lowest point of my entire life,” Green told CBS News.
Green’s life may have continued on this very same path had it not been for the loving and understanding support of his former teachers and juvenile detention supervisors. To them, his behavior wasn’t a reason to condemn him, but an indication of how desperately he needed guidance and some indication that his life could become better.
“I remember that [my former case worker], despite all of my anger … was still nice to me. I still remember that there was a person who was nice to me. A person who showed me kindness. And that’s an amazing feeling, to see that in darkness,” Green recounted to CBS News.
Upon his release, and after moving to a new area, Green involved himself in as many after-school programs and activities as he could manage. After a visit to the Metropolitan Opera in New York with his chorus group, Green fell in love with the opera and dedicated all his efforts to one day performing on that very same stage.
“I fell in love with opera that day. And I left the The Metropolitan Opera and told Robert Brown, who was my voice teacher, that I know what I wanna do with my life. I wanna sing at the Metropolitan Opera,” he added.
Today, the same voice that once shouted profanities at his teachers and guardians, echoing in the walls of solitary confinement, is reverberating throughout the Metropolitan Opera on Broadway. At the age of 32, with his wife, newborn daughter, and emerging career, the future has never looked so bright for Green.
(WATCH the video below or our international readers can watch the footage on the CBS News website) – Photo by Metropolitan Opera
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