My Closet of Characters | DePaul University Undergraduate Application Essay

To most people, a costume is a few layers of carefully constructed material that conveys a character or historical period. To me it is a vessel of teleportation that permits me to explore the personalities of flirts, cowards, evil geniuses, and witty comics. My best friend has a trophy shelf above her bed, while I store scores of music on my bookshelf and a bevy of characters in my closet. Maria from the “Sound of Music,” Despina from “Three Little Pigs”, a Spirit from “The Magic Flute,” and a few other despots, rascals, and scoundrels wait patiently among my day-to-day jeans and overabundance of striped t-shirts. When I step into a costume, I am no longer Elle Ventana Knowlton.

I am an opera singer, as my grandmother proudly brags to her hairdresser, her priest, and the cashiers at the Piggly Wiggly. Every Sunday of my childhood, my Nana and I held a weekly baking adventure where we’d exchange our speaking voices for robust operatic tones.

“Pass me the whiiiiissk,” she’d belt.

“Here it iiiiiiiiss,” I’d reply with exaggerated mezzo vibrato.

When I was eight years old, she shuttled me down to the Steinway shop in Milwaukee, and four hours later I was the proud owner of a baby grand. “She has a gift,” she boasted to the overly…

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