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Maria Aleida takes challenge of Mozart's Queen in Opera Carolina's 'Magic Flute'

January 13, 2013

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    January 13, 2013
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    Opera Carolina News

Maria Aleida takes challenge of Mozart's Queen in Opera Carolina's 'Magic Flute'

For coloratura soprano Maria Aleida, singing Mozart’s Queen of the Night is like starring in a circus high-wire act with no net.

It can be dazzling to behold, to say the least, but it’s also fraught with peril for the performer.

The Cuban-born Aleida will take on the stratospheric Queen for the first time in Opera Carolina’s production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” opening Saturday in Charlotte for three performances.

The role famously offers one of opera’s greatest challenges, a two-octave aria that soars repeatedly up to “F” above high “C.”

It requires a unique voice, capable of pinpoint precision, and a considerable amount of courage.

“I had a fear of the role at first,” said Aleida, 30, speaking by phone from Charlotte during a break in rehearsals. “When I first auditioned, I thought, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’ But sometimes you just have to try things in life.

“I’m very happy now,” she added. “I know I’m capable of doing this role. It’s very exciting for me.”

Aleida already has been offered another opportunity to sing the Queen, later this year in Torino, Italy.

“The Magic Flute” follows the handsome Prince Tamino as he seeks to win the hand of the beautiful Pamina, who is being held in a sort of benevolent captivity by the priest Sarastro.

Meanwhile, Pamina’s mother, the Queen of the Night, plots to kill Sarastro.

With only two arias, the Queen of the Night actually is not the largest principal role in “The Magic Flute.” But the Queen’s high-flying Act II aria is one of the best-known pieces in the entire operatic repertoire, cherished by opera lovers for its pyrotechnical sparkle.

“Even people who don’t know much about opera know the Queen of the Night aria,” said Aleida, who now lives in Philadelphia.

The Queen’s Act I aria, meanwhile, is no cakewalk either. It, too, demands a virtuosic talent.

Aleida, however, said the most daunting task for her is to effectively portray the Queen’s rage.

“I don’t have a problem with high notes,” Aleida said. “The character is what’s most difficult for me. The Queen of the Night is always angry. She has so much evil inside of her.”

Aleida is a resident artist at The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where she has sung such roles as Nanetta in Verdi’s “Falstaff” and Musetta in “La Boheme.”

Opera Carolina’s production of “Magic Flute” features the colorful costume and set designs of Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. This staging, a co-production with the San Francisco Opera and the Washington Opera, garnered rave reviews when it premiered this past summer in San Francisco.

“It’s a wonderful production with an excellent cast,” Aleida said. “I think it’s going to be great.”

The opera will be performed in a new English translation.

By Paul Hyde The Greenville News

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