Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 04-25-2019

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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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | APRIL 25-MAY 1, 2019 NORTH COUNTY 5 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 dur- ing these programs ... what repertoire to develop, where to audition and so on," she mentions. Soon she contract- ed with an agent and began audition- ing 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 casting, with emphasis on youth and newness often stressed over experience and seasoned ability. Conversely, young singers often start out with stars in their eyes, aspir- ing to headliner status and a life of kudos and adulation, she feels. "As you age your philosophy changes greatly. This is a tough busi- ness. This is an expensive business. 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 glam- orous. They only see you on stage in a beautiful gown. They don't see you in a hotel room living out of a suit- case, waiting in airport lounges, living with no health insurance, no retire- ment plan." Yet, she seems to love it. "If I never tried, the regret would have been a lot worse," she remarks with conviction 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 performing in Italian Opera Night in Helena, Montana, in June. July finds her in concert in Paris, Rouen and Berlin. - Contact me at smithpublarry@ gmail.com Bottom Lines Pop Quiz Answer: The inter- national organization that seriously considered making Chopmist Hill in Scituate its headquarters was the United Nations. The first reader to send in the correct answer was Mamie Rogler. One of the chief attractions was the exceptional radio reception in the area. A government listening post there was a favorite of the U.S. military intelligence agen- cies during World War II. Reader DIANA MCVEY One More Thing LAURENCE J. SASSO, JR. See SASSO, Page 7

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