Shattering glass and other opera singer stories with Colombian-American soprano Vanessa Vasquez

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Even folks who’ve never seen a performance of The Marriage of Figaro will instantly recognize its famous overture from numerous films, commercials and cartoons.

Jane Trembley talks with Colombian-American soprano Vanessa Vasquez about her upcoming turn as Countess Almaviva in the Santa Fe Opera’s 2021 Season production of Mozart’s beloved romantic comedy. Vanessa also gives listeners a glimpse into an opera singer’s life during lockdown, including the silver linings that have kept her sane, as well as her preparations for returning to peak vocal form just in time for summer.

On its surface, The Marriage of Figaro is a comedic commentary on the social classes. Dig deeper, however, and audiences will find more than embarrassing situations set to catchy music. There’s a subtler supporting theme at play, one that coaxes Countess from listless, disparaging teenager to self-assured woman.

“I think the strongest, most resonant theme of the opera is reconciliation,” says Vanessa. The character’s personal growth has informed Vanessa’s professional development since she first began exploring the role at 19. “I learned most everything I know about long, beautifully sustained, and spinning legato lines from her,” she says fondly of Countess, adding, “she's still teaching me new things every time.”

As the staff assembles to welcome guests back to the Santa Fe Opera, Vanessa’s preparations are in full swing as well. Stamina, she says, is key to getting from rehearsals to opening night. Thanks to the new tennis hobby she took up during lockdown, she won’t have to worry about lagging energy!

Jane couldn’t let her guest go without asking what advice the gifted soprano might lend aspiring opera singers. Vanessa, who captured the Santa Fe Opera audience’s attention in 2019 with her swoon-worthy turn as Mimi in La Bohème, urges young performers to just go for it.

“Don't wait. I think personally I was sort of waiting for this moment of ‘I'm ready, I'm perfect, I feel polished.’ I was waiting for that feeling, and it never came.”

Hear Vanessa singing “Porgi, Amor”:

The Marriage of Figaro | Santa Fe Opera


Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Mixed by: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley


Vanessa Vasquez, Colombian-American soprano


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