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Article Published: 30 Apr 2024

Oral History Project: Soprano Diana Soviero

The acclaimed soprano Diana Soviero reflects on her childhood dream of becoming an opera singer.

Diana Soviero

An excerpt from the Oral History Project interview with soprano Diana Soviero:

My father and mother took me to my first opera when I was nine years old. I went to see Tosca with Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli. We were up in the peanut gallery, and I had this long ponytail, and I kept leaning over to try to get on the stage. My father kept pulling my ponytail back and said, "If you don't stop it, Diana, you're gonna fall over." I wanted to be on stage so bad.

One day, I was in my living room at the piano, and my father put on the Met broadcast. It was Rigoletto, and I started singing. My father said, "Boy, that soprano on the broadcast sounds like you." And I said, "Dad, it is me. I'm singing with the soprano." He says, "You what? Are you serious? Do you wanna do this?"

Sometime later, I was a student at Juilliard, and I got a call from my dean to come down to Lincoln Center, which was still under construction. My father was in the theater. His company was chosen to do all the ornamental plastering in the Metropolitan Opera, Avery Fisher Hall, and other venues. I came off the subway into the hole that was going to be the Met. At first, I couldn’t find my father because he was in his plastering outfit. But then he said to me, "Put on that hard hat and stand over there where I put that barrel. I want you to sing something." I said, "Dad, I’m embarrassed. You have all these people watching. I'm not singing." He said, "Diana, just sing la la la la la." So I sang "Un bel di, vedremo" from Madama Butterfly. After I finished, he said to me, "You were the first person to sing at Lincoln Center in the Metropolitan Opera. My daughter."

Years later, when I made my Met debut, my father was no longer alive. Joe Volpe walked me out, and he said, "Diana, you have tears in your eyes." I said, "Yeah, I do. My father’s dream came true." And he said, "Di, what about yours?" And I said, "Well, mine too."

Adapted from Diana Soviero’s Oral History Project conversation recorded on May 24, 2022. Explore the full Oral History Project collection.

This article was published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Across the Board, a publication of OPERA America for opera company trustees.