Tidewater Women’s Fran Ward recently called Cecilia Violetta López. She was in Norfolk preparing for her role in Virginia Opera’s La Traviata.
Tidewater Women (TW): Cecilia, you are making your début with Virginia Opera as Violetta in La Traviata. Let’s talk about you first as Cecilia and then in your role as Violetta. Tell the readers about yourself, please.
Cecilia Violetta López (CL): I was born and raised in Idaho. I received my undergraduate training as a singer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Then I was hired by Opera San Jose, California, where I sang nine leading lady roles.
TW: So many! I looked you up on your website and listened to some samples of your singing. You and your voice are both so beautiful! I can’t wait to watch you and hear you perform live.
CL: Thank you! I love the opera. Opera is magic! It is transforming. Somehow, even though it is a story told through music, it connects everyone—in the audience and on stage.
TW: As an audience member, I have felt that connection.
TW: When did you first learn you had your musical gifts?
CL: When I was about twelve. Working in the fields in Idaho, my mother introduced my brother and me to “ranchera” music of the Mariachis. My brother couldn’t carry a tune, so my mom and I would sing duets.
TW: When you said “working in the fields,” I didn’t picture Idaho. What were the crops?
CL: We would hoe the beets.
TW: Red (for vegetables) or white (for sugar)?
CL: White sugar beets. The farm had long rows—about a mile long. It would take two hours to hoe one row. My mom’s music would help us see the end of the tunnel.
CL: You come from humble beginnings.
TW: Yes. And my parents are so proud of me. They saw me sing Madame Butterfly. My father does not usually speak in English, but after the performance, he told me in English with a thick Mexican accent that he so proud of me.
TW: You must replay that tape in your mind over and over.
CL: I do. Now I work and do what I love. My trajectory is rising, but I have come to look back on my foundation. My mom planted the seeds.
TW: And your seeds have grown in Idaho, Mexico, Austria, and Las Vegas.
CL: And San Jose.
TW: On your résumé, you list related skills including Mexican folkloric, Tahitian and jazz dance experience. Music seems to flow through your veins!
CL: I love to absorb cultures—in every way from the food to the dance. I am fascinated by them.
TW: And the world is fascinated by you. You have won countless singing awards and competitions, and you will soon portray an amazing character at the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk. Please tell us about Violetta.
CL: Everyone can relate to Violetta in La Traviata. The music is beautiful, and you do not have to know Italian to understand. All you have to do is read the supertitles. The lines that are sung in Italian are displayed in English above the stage.
TW: Explain what you mean about being able to “relate to Violetta.”
CL: She is a tough woman who has lived a hard life. She yearns for love. The story begins with her life as it had been (with flirty music), and we see the suffering she goes through when she realizes that the love is there. As she wonders what to do, the music develops (as does the character) with ups and downs. She hurts inside.
TW: You have such compassion for her.
CL: Yes. Everyone knows her feelings.
TW: And you convey the emotion from deep within her to the surface for all to see. My final interview question is always: “What would you like the readers of Tidewater Women to know?”
CL: Opera is for everyone! It is accessible to everyone. It is magic, and it is memorable. If someone reading Tidewater Women has not been to an opera yet, this would be a good chance to have that experience.
TW: Thank you, Cecilia.
CL: One more thing: I want to thank Tidewater Women for this opportunity for me to look back and remember my roots in Idaho. I even had to dig out my car from the snow!
TW: You are down to earth with a voice like an angel, Cecilia. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with Tidewater Women.
CL: It has been my pleasure.
TW: I’ll see you onstage!
CL: I’ll be there!
The Virginia Opera Presents: Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (The Fallen Woman), their biggest production of the season March 13, 15 & 17, 2015 at Harrison Opera House, 160 East Virginia Beach Blvd., Norfolk • www.vaopera.org • 1-866-OPERAVA • Tickets start at just $19.
Cecilia Violetta López, Soprano ~ ceciliaviolettalopez.com