Argentine-American Mezzo Soprano Daniela Mack Looks Ahead to Tuscon Desert Song Festival [EXCLUSIVE]
As the overture of Bizet's "Carmen" comes to an end, the motif of fate takes center stage. Underscored by a violent tremolo in the orchestra, the music grips the listener, pulling him or her into the drama where destiny is unavoidable, tragic as it may be.
For Argentine-American mezzo soprano Daniela Mack, who will be performing the title role in the work at the Arizona Opera as part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival early next year, the power of fate in "Carmen" means more than just what happens in the drama itself. Her entire career in many ways was the result of a fateful meeting with the work.
During her first opera performance on stage as a freshman in college, Mack played the role of the one of Cigarette girls in "Carmen." She was not a soloist, but being on stage made her realize where her career was headed.
"That sealed the deal for me," she told Latin Post during an exclusive interview. "I fell in love with being on the stage. I had no idea where my career would take me, but it was something that sparked my interest from early on."
From there she slowly but surely started learning the role of Carmen, bit by bit, performing scenes until eventually she made her debut in the role in 2014 at the Santa Fe Opera.
"She is always surprising. There is no predictability about her," Mack stated about playing the character before noting that it was "dangerous" to try and play her an experienced "femme fatale who has been around the block." Instead she advocated for an approach that saw Carmen's lack of predictability as an offspring of her youth and impulsiveness.
"She knows what she wants, whether it is one thing in one moment or something else in the next, and she knows how to get what she wants. She is not wiry about it, but just a young person who goes for it when she wants it. I find that exciting," Mack added.
That said, the mezzo soprano noted that there was one aspect of the character that was tricky to handle.
"She leaves a trail of broken hearts behind her and that is fun to play in a sense but definitely trickier," she added.
Another hard aspect of the role?
"Definitely the pacing," she revealed.
An avid singer of the bel canto repertoire and even baroque music, Mack noted that "Carmen" pushed her in a different direction and demanded more of her voice. While the other works in her repertoire are lighter in both music and theme, Carmen proved to be "the first death scene that I have every gotten to play. It is very easy to get carried away in the emotion, especially in that final scene where the stakes are the highest.
"You want to give the most authentic performance you can as an actor, but as a singer you still have to keep to your technique. So there is a fine balance you have to maintain in the most dramatic moments."
While "Carmen" will be one of the major highlights of Mack's time in Tuscon, she will also be collaborating in a duo recital with her husband Alek Shrader.
The two met while doing a run of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" in 2007. Despite being married, Mack noted that they have spent a lot of time apart due to their careers.
"We just welcome the opportunity to work together," Mack acknowledged. "It is time to spend time together in one place while making music. It is a great way to relive our meeting. Whenever we do duets it is second nature to sing with him."
While their duo portion of the program has not been established, Mack noted that her solo material will allow her to explore her Argentine roots. She did not specify the selections but noted that she "likes to do that kind of music as much as possible."
The performances of Carmen start on Jan. 30, 2016 and her recital is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2016. While Mack is undeniably excited about the two programs, she also noted that the location played a big role in her anticipation for the performances.
"Being in Arizona in general is a landscape that I've always wanted to spend some time in. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about the festival," she stated. "It is a community that supports the art festival in a wonderful way."
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