Bellingham's Opera Popolare presents Gluck's "Paride ed Elena" Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 13-15, at Fountain Community Church, 2100 Broadway. Daniella Smith, 17 and a senior at Bellingham High School, sings the role of Amore. For more on the production, see operapopolare.com.
Question: How did you become interested in music?
Answer: I have always wanted to be a singer. I was 6 years old when I first decided. But the first time I really got a chance to perform was when I played Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" in fifth grade. Since then I have always been involved in choirs and shows at my school and in the community.
Q: Who encouraged you along the way?
A: My directors have always been supportive of my love of performing, but Linda Short, my choir teacher at Bellingham High, has been a huge supporter of mine ever since I walked into her music class in eighth grade. When I reached high school I became a part of the auditioned show-choir "Showstoppers" my sophomore year, and in that group I have had the chance to perform all over the community and at the State Solo and Ensemble Contest.
Q: What are other performances give you pride?
A: I have also had the opportunity to perform solo at the State Solo and Ensemble Contest, after winning the district competition with my mezzo-soprano solo this year. My journey continued when, this summer, I traveled to Washington, D.C., for three weeks to take part in an auditioned summer program called the Washington National Opera Institute for Young Singers.
While at the program I was asked to open the final, selective concert with my art song and later perform my opera scene on the Millennium Stage at the J.F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center. The entire program and final performance were both amazing experiences for me and I feel so privileged to have been able to attend the program and learn all the amazing things I did.
I also feel amazingly privileged to have such supportive family and friends in my life that have always pushed me and cheered me on to do what I love and be the best I can be.
Q: What composers and musicians do you enjoy?
A: When it comes to opera music my all-time favorite opera singer is definitely Renée Fleming. She has a beautiful voice, but I can especially tell, when I listen to her recordings, how much effort she has put into learning the music and making it hers. Also, I have read her autobiography and she reminds me a lot of myself. When I'm not listening to "La Bohème," (my favorite opera) you can find me blasting my Carrie Underwood and Train albums in my car!
Q: What's Opera Popolare all about?
A: Opera Popolare is a Bellingham-run opera company that produces an opera and recital each year as a way of bringing classical music to the community and giving youth and adults alike an opportunity to perform the kind of music they love. More than half of the company's audiences each year are people who have never been to an opera, and they end up loving it! The opera is fun and cut down to an hour and 15 minutes, the performers are all extremely talented, and by coming, the community is supporting locally produced music.
Q: And this particular production?
A: This is an opera about Paris of Troy wooing Helen of Sparta. I play Amore - a.k.a. Aphrodite - and my character basically manipulates both Paris and Helen in the hope they will eventually end up together; which they do!
Q: What are your plans?
A: At the moment I am getting ready to apply to and audition for music schools to pursue a career in classical music and opera. My immediate hopes for the future are that I will be accepted to the schools I apply for. And I hope to finish my degree and one day be accepted to a world-renown opera company.
Q: What do you enjoy besides music?
A: When I am not learning, performing or listening to music, I am often either reading or watching super-hero movies. I also spend a lot of time doing homework for my AP classes and hanging out around Fairhaven and downtown with my friends and family.
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-2273.