(Photo by Ian Maddox/for The Washington Post)

Soloman Howard, 33, is a graduate of the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. He was born in Washington and now lives in Shirlington.

What question about being an opera singer are you tired of hearing?

When I tell people I sing opera, they say, “Why? There’s so many things you could have done. Why opera?” Well, that’s what my gift is. People will say opera’s boring. And I’ll say, “Have you ever really experienced the grandeur of opera on a large scale?”And most of them have never been to an opera to know how emotional it can be and how it encompasses all of the areas of performing arts and how physically demanding it is.

You recently made your debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Was that terrifying?

There was a lot of anticipation, anxiety leading up to the moment, but I’m always great once I get on to the stage. I felt like this was my moment and I was destined to be here.

Your voice is Barry-White deep. Do people comment on it all the time, like when you’re ordering coffee?

Whenever I order something I get the question, “Do you know you have a deep voice?” I answer, “Oh, I was wondering what was wrong.” I used to shy away from talking in class because people would comment on my voice, and that became the topic.

You played football when you were younger and sang opera. What did your teammates think?

They were like, “Dude, you should be running routes on the field, and you’re singing?” But you know, I’m not a small guy, so not too many people messed with me. [Laughs.] And when they saw the dedication and how hard I worked, they went along with it.

What song do you sing around the house that would surprise opera fans?

Two of my favorites are “Betcha By Golly Wow,” by the Stylistics and the theme song from the ’80s show “Family Ties.”

What’s the best singing advice you’ve ever received?

I used to get frustrated in the practice room. Morris Robinson, one of my mentors, said: “It’s just like going to the gym. If you can’t bench press 215, then you work your way up to it.” When I’m singing, I feel like I should be able to do it right away. But it takes the same process of working your way up to it and not being afraid to mess up.

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E-mail us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.