ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A locally known opera singer got herself into some hot water last week for doing what she does best – sing.
For more than five years, Krista Clouse has made a living singing opera out on the streets of Old Town Alexandria in order to care for her ailing husband and their 2-year-old daughter. But last Friday, Clouse continued to sing as Alexandria police placed her in handcuffs.
“There was pointing and laughing inside the restaurant, there was a big scene made about closing the door, implying that I was an inconvenience,” Clouse said.
She contends for weeks she has been harassed for singing at her usual spot outside Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge.
“We have had so much interruption of performances, we barely made rent this month,” said Clouse. “We made it by $31 to spare. And as you know, diapering a 2-year-old on $31 is a little bit tough.”
So she moved up a block away. But over there began problems with the cops for using a Bluetooth speaker she said she needs for orchestral accompaniment.
“We showed him the speaker we had and he said that was not a problem,” Clouse explained. “He actually told us that from the supervisor down, the instruction was not to enforce the sound ordinance.”
The Alexandria noise ordinance code is clear – if you use an amplifier, you need a $20 permit. If not, there is a decibel level a street performer must adhere to. After a handful of verbal warning, Clouse was placed under arrest.
“I told him I needed to continue singing and he arrested me while I was singing “Ave Maria,” which I don't personally believe is disorderly,” she said.
What do people in Old Town Alexandria think about the arrest?
“If she was given a proper warning, then it's her responsibility,” said one man.
“She has been here for years,” said another. “It's not right. Someone must have complained, I guess, in the business community and that is why they made her go.”
We reached out to the owner of Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge and he told us he did not have a personal comment. However, he did say he has been told by his landlord that Clouse’s singing is a nuisance.
Clouse’s charges were downgraded from disorderly conduct to a noise violation. She is scheduled to appear in court later this month.