Mia of the opera

A closer look at "opera girl"


Maya Morriswala, Co-editor-in-chief

Opera singing may not seem like a typical pastime for a typical high school student. Nevertheless, Mia Rodriguez is known among her peers for doing just that at the school Talent Show last year, and again this past February.

Rodriguez is a member of the top choir, Chorale, and she participates in musicals outside of school. Though she began singing as part of the school in sixth-grade choir, she was able to sing at a much younger age.

“My grandpa always says, ‘we knew you could sing when you were two,’” Rodriguez said. “I guess that I’ve always liked [singing]. I’ve been doing it as long as possible.”

Rodriguez just made the state choir, which according to her, is one of her greatest achievements.

“State choir is really exciting,” Rodriguez said. “Being able to be a part of that, even in rehearsals; we had eight, nine-hour rehearsals, and we were there forever. Even though it was so long, you don’t even realize how much time is passing because you’re just so in love with music and the sound you can make, bonding with everyone over all of it. It’s a whole different experience.”

Next year, in addition to Chorale, Rodriguez will become a member of the show choir — Encore — making her even more involved with Allen’s music program.

“Choir class is different when you get there,” Rodriguez said. “Choir is kind of like a family, so it’s really fun getting to go in there, and you get to learn new music every day. Your teachers are like your parents.”

When it came time to prepare for last year’s talent show, Rodriguez went through many pieces of pop music, but according to her, nothing really fit.

“I sang that one opera song, it was called ‘Nessun Dorma,’” Rodriguez said. “My mom was like, ‘that’s it.’ I [thought], ‘nobody is going to like opera; I can’t sing opera for high school students.’ And she was like, ‘just do it, trust me, everyone will love it.’ And they did.”

So when this year came around, Rodriguez decided to, once again, perform an opera song. However, because many opera songs require context from the opera itself, Rodriguez enlisted some help to find a song.

“Opera songs, there [are] tons of beautiful ones, but a lot of them, you have to know the context and be really into opera to appreciate it,” Rodriguez said. “This year, I asked my music theory teacher because he used to be an opera performer as well, and he was like, ‘oh you should sing this one aria. A bunch of sopranos do it all the time.’ And so I sang ‘O Mio Babbino Caro.”

According to Rodriguez, the reason why opera is beautiful is that it contains so much emotion despite the language barrier.

“You can feel it with just the music; it could be in Italian, but you can feel it,” Rodriguez said. “I remember after my performance this year, this guy, I didn’t even know him, he DM’d me and said, ‘hey, I just want you to know that my mom cried during your performance.’ That’s hilarious. It’s funny because people don’t even know operas, but they can still connect to them.”

When Rodriguez is not singing, she is painting, drawing and hanging out with her friends. Nevertheless, singing is her dream career that she is contemplating pursuing after graduating.

“People are like, ‘you don’t want to do a job that might make you money, but you hate your job,’” Rodriguez said. “But music is the one thing I always enjoy and always love no matter what. You can put me through a nine-hour rehearsal, and I’ll be like, ‘this is great; I love this.’ That’s just all I want in the future.”

Much like how she is conflicted about pursuing a music career, Rodriguez used to feel conflicted about being labeled “the opera girl.” However, she has come to accept it this year.

“It’s funny because last year after the opera performance, everybody was like, ‘oh, you’re opera girl,’ and I was just known as ‘opera girl,’” Rodriguez said. “I got kind of annoyed. I don’t just sing opera; I can sing pop music, or I can sing country music or whatever. I felt like it was defining me. [But] you know what? I am the opera girl, and that is my thing. I love that, and I love opera.”