Clint Holton P. Potestas goes classical as he interviews an opera singer from the Big Apple.

I have only known Evelyn Thatcher for five minutes, and already she has me on a plane to New York, where she was born. But really, who would not fly to the Big Apple after hearing a few lines of La Bohéme?

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Of the countless opera concerts she has done, this four-act piece by Giacomo Puccini has left quite an impression on her.

Mimi, the lead character, has closely matched her personality – passionate about the life she is living and loving every moment as it unfolds.

At the age of seven, she hit passion head on. “Our parents did not allow us to watch television when we were young. They thought it was bad for us. So we just read and listened to the radio,” the 33-year-old soprano from New York begins, “I just happened to listen to Beverly Sills on the radio, so in a way, I decided to become an opera performer.”

The passion took root. She started to expose herself to classic music and the classical way of singing before she completed a degree in music at the Manhattan School of Music.

In more than a decade in the industry, Evelyn has this one humorous experience: “I was singing on stage and I noticed that the lining of my dress was slowly loosening up,” she says, laughing.

“The lining did fall off, but the audience seemed to find it funny because it happened during the scene where my male partner and I have to run. It appeared to be comedic, but they just didn’t have any idea how terrible it was on my part,” she continued.

Ask if she’s nervous before a performance, and she’ll just give you a calm shrug, “No, but it’s more of the feeling of excitement,” she explains, “And a lot of preparation.”

Her preparation includes practicing everyday, no cigarette smoking – she does not, to begin with – and no alcoholic drinks, as they dry up the throat. After all, the best investment is the voice.

“Opera is different from Broadway in terms of structure, although both could sound the same. Broadway tells a story, so it demands singing and acting. Opera focuses on singing.

That’s why some of the performers will just stand, no theatric movement. But for me, acting should also be as important as singing,” Evelyn says.

According to her, opera is the mother of all music. This idea gives high hopes that it would soon appeal to the young generation. And to top it all, even the music itself is open to radical changes.

“It would be great to combine opera and hip-hop. I’d love to collaborate with pop stars as well. It is possible – just anything that makes it more available to the public because they think that opera is exclusive. By combining it with mainstream music, opera pieces could be played on the radio.”

“And soon, it would reach Cebu,” hopes Evelyn, who’s engaged to Mark Roska, an opera performer in New York but with roots in Cebu. They both traveled from New York to visit northern Cebu for the first time.

Months from now, we might probably hear Evelyn perform in Europe. For her, it’s the best way to get to New York’s Metropolitan Opera, one of the world’s most prestigious concert venues.

“I hope the Cebuanos would be interested to join opera. Everything can be acquired with determination. Just be patient and never entertain any negative thoughts – like any other aspect in life,” she ends.