Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 04-24-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 24-30, 2019 NORTH PROVIDENCE 11 Diana McVey is hitting all the right notes Lyric soprano Diana McVey never sings in the shower. She does, however, share her con- siderable talent in concert and opera productions all over the country and the world. She has sung at such ven- ues as Carnegie Hall, Opera Naples, Opera Tampa, and has traveled to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates for a production of "Carmen." The Smithfield native, who now lives in North Providence, adds "I literally sing at home only when I'm practicing. Often it's in Italian. Sometimes I study 12 hours a day." McVey has been devoted to vocal performance since at least her sopho- more year at Rhode Island College. Before that she confides, "I didn't know I had the stuff, but I always had the desire." She credits her parents, the late Harold and Barbara McVey of Greenville, with providing a music- loving environment. "There was always music going on at home," she recalls. "My mother played the piano. She was always singing, and my father was known to break out with Irish melodies at times." Unfortunately, Diana and her three older sisters lost their mother when Diana was only 12. Her music teachers in the Smithfield schools get a lot of praise as she recalls the influences that helped shape her after that. "Good old Allen Tinkham and Bob Cleasby taught me everything I know," she mentions. "I had good music teachers all the way through." Initially planning on a career in teaching, McVey plunged enthusiasti- cally into the RIC music programs. She tried out for both the chorus and chamber singers and was accepted. She even played percussion in the RIC orchestra. "I didn't escape any ensemble," she says with a chuckle. Her career as a soloist came later, but she explains that the foundation for it was built at RIC on the wide exposure she received to "all the great choral pieces." She cites the Mozart Requiem as an example. After college Diana made a detour professionally, taking a job as direc- tor of education at the Rhode Island Philharmonic. For several years she sang only occasionally, but she didn't pursue roles on the bigger stages. She had married Edward Markward, a noted conductor and a music professor at RIC. Eventually, he encouraged her to leave the job at the Philharmonic and take a leap into the world of opera. The highly accomplished soprano Maria Spacagna, whose resume includes performances at The Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, accepted Diana as a student, and she was on her way. Further study with young artist programs at both the Sarasota Opera Company and the Lake George Opera Festival allowed her to experi- ence the life of a professional opera singer. "I started to get good feedback during these programs ... what rep- ertoire to develop, where to audition and so on," she mentions. Soon she contracted with an agent and began auditioning for roles. Today her regular repertoire includes such parts as the Countess in "The Marriage of Figaro," the Countess in "Capriccio," and Lucia in "Lucia Di Lammermoor." She cites among her role mod- els Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Merrill, and Sherrill Milnes, with whom she worked, and "a lot of the Italian sing- ers. "I learned a lot about style from pieces I wasn't singing," she declares. What she learned was put right to work, and her talent was rewarded with more and more jobs. Diana, now 49, has some strong opinions about being an opera singer at mid-life. She candidly observes that there is obvious ageism in cast- ing, with emphasis on youth and newness often stressed over experi- ence and seasoned ability. Conversely, young singers often start out with stars in their eyes, aspiring to headliner status and a life of kudos and adulation, she feels. "As you age your philosophy changes greatly. This is a tough business. This is an expensive busi- ness. There's rejection around every corner. Success means that you are working and you can pay your bills, not that you're famous. "The public only sees the tip of the iceberg. They think your life is glamorous. They only see you on stage in a beautiful gown. They don't see you in a hotel room living out of a suitcase, waiting in airport lounges, living with no health insurance, no retirement plan." Yet, she seems to love it. "If I never tried, the regret would have been a lot worse," she remarks with convic- tion and a smile. Besides performing she gives pri- vate lessons and teaches at the Jackie M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts in Pawtucket. She is also a huge sports fan. "I've memorized more than one opera watching the Red Sox," she notes, laughing. On Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m., you can see and hear her in the Music on the Hill program at Immaculate Conception Church in Cranston, and she also will be per- forming in Italian Opera Night in Helena, Montana, in June. July finds her in concert in Paris, Rouen and Berlin. - Contact Sasso at smithpublarry@ One More Thing LAURENCE J. SASSO, JR. DIANA MCVEY IN BRIEF Mancini Center offers 'Tea and Paint' fun NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence Mancini Center, 2 Atlantic Blvd., announces the fol- lowing programs. • A Tea & Paint event will be held Wednesday, May 1, from 1 to 3 p.m. This is a two-hour painting class taught by an instructor. All supplies will be provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of R.I. The class has limited seating. Call or stop by the reception desk to register. • A continental May Breakfast will be held Thursday, May 2, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The break- fast and a sparkling beverage will be provided by Golden Crest. • Mother's Day Dine & Dance will be held Thursday, May 9, from noon to 2 p.m. The event will be catered by Mickey G's. Tickets are $12 per person and must be pur- chased by May 3. The event will include a special gift for the ladies compliments of Mayor Charles Lombardi, raffles, live music and dancing with Tom Conte. • A luncheon at Lake Pearl will be held Monday, June 10. The cost is $30 per person. The bus will leave NPMC at 10 a.m. and return at 4 p.m. For more information, call 401-231-0742, ext. 102. Coach for a Cause trip to Foxwoods LINCOLN – The Friends of the Lincoln Senior Center will be hav- ing a Coach for a Cause Trip to Foxwoods on Saturday, May 18. The bus departs at 5 p.m. and returns at midnight. The trip will cost $30 per person, that includes $10 slot play and buffet. Raffles on board. This event is open to anyone 21 and up. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information call Lois or Michelle, 401-753-7000. Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to:, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. Making a Difference in the Lives of Others 610 Smithfield Road North Providence, RI 02904 (401) 353-6300 Sub-Acute Rehabilitation, Long-term Care, Secure Dementia Care and Hospice Services Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy Private and Semi-Private Rehab Rooms Admissions 24 Hours ~ 7 Days per week We accept: Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Health, Neighborhood & Medicaid Hopkins Manor

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