Nationally-known opera singer to speak, perform at ‘Latina Voices’ event in Colorado Springs | Music

It’s a long way from singing mariachi while working in the Idaho fields to performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Cecilia Violette Lopez first learned to love the emotion-drenched music of mariachi as she worked side by side with her Mexican mother in the beet fields and potato cellars. Years before, her mother had moved to the US to be with her Mexican husband, who was living the American dream, Lopez said, of earning money to send home to his family.

So when opera music seeped into her life years later, she’d already developed an ability to tap into those emotions.

“That was easy. I’m an open book in my personal life, ”said Lopez, the artistic adviser for Opera Idaho. “I wear my heart on my sleeves. And mariachi music, which is so emotionally driven, it’s easy for me to copy and paste over to opera. “

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the nationally known Mexican American opera singer will be the keynote speaker at “Latina Voices,” a free annual event sponsored by Pikes Peak Library District. She’ll perform a mariachi song her mom taught her in the fields and a song from Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly.”

Keeley Griego, a Colorado Springs native and digital and community educator for Inside Out Youth Services, also will be a presenter. Amy Sanchez-Martinez, a Mitchell High School and University of Colorado Colorado Springs graduate and Sand Creek High School’s campus director, will emcee. It’s Saturday at Library 21c.

Named one of opera’s 25 rising stars by Opera News, Lopez also has performed with the Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Tampa, Ash Lawn Opera, Madison Opera and others.

“It’s an honor to know people see me in a light I never imagined myself to ever be in,” Lopez said. “If the story of my upbringing and trajectory and the way I rolled my sleeves back and got to working, if that’s helpful to people and sends a message to work hard for your dreams and keep going, it’s worth it.”

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Lopez came to her music career later than most professional musicians. She was in her early 20s and a new mom when her former husband encouraged her to pursue her love of music and get a degree at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The only practical option, in her mind, was to become a music teacher.

During the semester, when her friends were cast in a school production of Puccini’s famous opera “La bohème” and making a big deal of the show, she grudgingly agreed to attend: “I was rolling my eyes as far back as I could go. Fine, I’ll go, but only to support my friends in the show. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been to a live theater experience. “

She couldn’t have predicted what happened next – the excitement of the audience, the rustling of the programs, the musicians warming up in the orchestra pit, and then the swelling music of the opera. She lost herself.

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“I told my ex-husband that what my classmates did on stage – the way they made me feel, and projected their voice and told their story – that’s what I want to do,” she said.

And she did. After eschewing her initial desire to teach, she graduated at 29 with a degree in vocal performance, and the following month she had a contract with a professional opera company.

“Every new role or opportunity is a new challenge,” she said – one that enables her to put her essence and personal experiences into the music “so people who come to the theater can relate and see opera has stood the test of time for a reason. “

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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