University of South Florida

USF Health Emergency Medicine Resident Becomes Grammy Award-Winning Opera Choir Singer

(Left) Rishi Rane, MD, at his FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine White Coat Ceremony. (Right) Dr. Rane performing in Il Mondo Della Luna in Cincinnati. Pre-Covid photos courtesy of Dr. Rane.


On March 14, 2021, the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards aired on CBS and one University of South Florida (USF) emergency medicine resident was particularly interested in who would win Best Opera Recording.

Music and medicine share the ability to heal and transform, and Rishi Rane, MD, emergency medicine resident, and trained professional tenor, practices both. Dr. Rane studied at the University of Miami (UM) Frost School of Music, and after graduation in 2009, moved to New York to pursue a career as an opera singer. The first year was rough, but eventually he landed several roles at the Bronx Opera and Opera America, at local places of worship, and even at the world-renown Metropolitan Opera, where he joined the company’s production of Aida, his favorite opera, as a non-singing supernumerary. “That was a really big deal because it was a dream of mine to sing at the Met,” Dr. Rane told Ileana Varela, associate director of marketing and PR at Florida International University (FIU).

Rishi Rane, MD, trained professional tenor, singing “Maria” from West Side Story. Pre-Covid Video.


After five years in music, Dr. Rane was starting to feel the burnout and decided to pursue a steadier and more reliable career in medicine. Medicine has always been part of Dr. Rane’s life since his mother is a Registered Nurse (RN) and his sister is a Physician Assistant (PA). Dr. Rane even worked in music therapy at the University of Florida (UF) Health Cancer Center in Orlando and found it to be an amazing experience where he could really connect with patients and help relieve their stress and anxiety. His path to a career in medicine began with a move back to his home state of Florida and enrollment into the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. “As an opera singer, you memorize tons of lines and music,” Dr. Rane said. “I guess you could say that practice got me ready for med school.”

During his fourth year of medical school, Dr. Rane’s music career came knocking in the form of an “out of the blue” email from the director of the Met. An old castmate recommended Dr. Rane and he was being asked to audition for George Gerwin’s classic American opera, Porgy and Bess. With the support and encouragement of his medical school advisor, Dr. Rane auditioned and was chosen to be in the show’s ensemble. “This was obviously a great opportunity and one that I couldn’t pass up, but that being said, medicine is what I saw myself doing,” Dr. Rane said. “After all, I’d come a long way and felt like I’d found a new passion in life.”

With special permission from his advisor, Dr. Rane finished up his last year of medical school remotely while preforming at the Lincoln Center, completing an emergency medicine rotation at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and applying for his first residency program. “I’ve managed to find a way to keep music in my life through what may very well have been the most stressful time in medical school,” Dr. Rane said.

After three weeks of music and staging rehearsals in rehearsal rooms around the Met opera house, the cast of Porgy & Bess gets ready to move their final rehearsals to the stage. Pre-Covid photo courtesy of the Met opera chorus’ Facebook Page.

A scene from the final dress rehearsal of the Met’s production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Pre-Covid Video.


According to Amazon’s editorial review for the 3-CD set audio recording of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, the show was returning to the Met stage for the first time in nearly 30 years and ended up breaking company box-office records. The show was extended for an unprecedented three additional performances in February 2020. The production was also seen in cinemas around the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD series and seen by more than 325,000 people, making it one of the most successful transmissions in the series’ history.

The 3-CD set audio recording of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess as sold on Amazon.

Dr. Rane’s unique life experiences wouldn’t end there. He came back to Florida to start his prestigious three-year residency at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) as a part of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM) Emergency Medicine Residency Training Program. Only a few months into the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Rane was stationed in TGH’s emergency department, among “the sickest of the sick, people on ventilators,” Dr. Rane told Joel Rozen, staff writer for the Met. “There are a lot of challenges the virus presents, but it also offers the opportunity to be creative. You’re multitasking and thinking on your feet, and the need to communicate with a lot of people at once reminds me of what I loved about performing.”

Now, almost a year into Dr. Rane’s residency, one of his notable memories is, “getting the opportunity to run a successful code in the ICU and intubating and managing the care of a critical patient in the trauma bay for the first time,” Dr. Rane shared. “Some of my favorite memories outside of work have been simply having a meal and good conversation with faculty members, spending time with my amazing co-residents, going out on boat rides in Tampa Bay and exploring all that Tampa has to offer.”

While continuing to endure the anxiety of the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Rane’s music career came back around for more exciting news – the 2019 Metropolitan Opera recording of Porgy and Bess won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. The recording was conducted by David Robertson and starred Angel Blue and Eric Owens. The cast also included Latonia Moore, Ryan Speedo Green, Alfred Walker, Golda Schultz, Denyce Graves, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Dr. Rane and the rest of the members of the chorus and orchestra will receive a Grammy certificate while the 6 leading cast members and conductor will receive the iconic trophies. “I was overjoyed,” Dr. Rane said about the win. “We had all poured our heart and soul into that production, so this was just a testament to all of the hard work. Over the course of rehearsals and performances, I feel like my cast at the Metropolitan Opera became more like a family. Being part of that production as a fourth-year medical student was truly an incredible gift, and I feel so lucky to be given the opportunity to do it.”

The Metropolitan Opera closed during the height of the pandemic in New York City and has remained closed to this day with plans of reopening in the Fall with the same production of Porgy and Bess. Dr. Rane and the original cast have all been invited back to perform in it, but unfortunately, Dr. Rane doesn’t think he is going to join. “I unfortunately don’t see my participation in it a possibility right now as residency is my priority,” Dr. Rane said. “That being the case, I have developed a good relationship with directors at the Met, so hopefully the door will remain open and I will be invited back to perform there again in the future.”

At the end of a busy day at the hospital, Dr. Rane often sits down at his piano and sings to help de-stress. “I do see continuing to perform as a real possibility in the future and plan to continue singing and performing in some capacity after residency,” Dr. Rane said. “Whether that be putting on concerts or performing in a local theater company, I feel it’s important to find balance in life, and music certainly does that for me.”

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