Keith Miller as Monterone in the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Verdi's Rigoletto.
Keith Miller set his career course in college, where he was a star fullback at the University of Colorado. He went on to play professional football for the European and Arena Football Leagues, and had a shot at playing for the NFL.
But Miller decided to follow another voice — his own — and it led him straight to opera. In 1994 "I took a girlfriend that I was seeing to "Phantom of the Opera" on my birthday, and I thought it would be a really nice date," Miller tells NPR's Neal Conan. "I sat there and I was just blown away."
Once he had had purchased every musical theater CD he could find, Miller moved on to opera — and was hooked. When the two professional football leagues with which he was playing, the Arena League and the XFL, floundered, Miller decided it was time to pursue his love of opera.
It proved to be a wise move for Miller. In his five-year musical career, the bass-baritone has nearly 200 performances under his belt with the Metropolitan Opera — and anticipates many more. "The beginning of my career will really probably happen eight, nine years from now ... Because as a base, at 45, that's when the prime of your career will start. That's when you can basically say, I can sing within reason anything I want to," Miller says. At 45 in football, he says, you're "fishing by then."