The Phantom of the Opera is a classic, a staple. The movie and the musical introduced the world to the wonders of opera and the stories that the genre tells. For DMA candidate, Diana Peralta, The Phantom of the Opera changed her musical trajectory forever.
“Ever since I was a little girl my house, like every Mexican house, was filled with music,” Peralta said. “But it was never opera music.”
It was not until Peralta sang from The Phantom of the Opera for a school project that she fell in love with the genre.
“I found out that not only did I love to sing this style, but it came so easily to me, too.”
What started as a school project transformed into Peralta obtaining her degree in “Canto de Ópera y Concierto” from the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico, her master’s degree in Voice Performance from the University of Arizona, and now her DMA in Voice Performance.
But what brings a singer to the Fred Fox School of Music from Mexico City? A competition in the city of San Luis Potosí drew Peralta in.
“I am here thanks to that competition,” Peralta said. “I won a concert with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and an audition for the Fred Fox School of Music master’s program.”
Ever since she arrived, Peralta has taken full advantage of all the opportunities the university and Tucson have to offer. From performing in operas such as Carmen to working on projects in the local Tucson community, Peralta has expanded her horizons beyond what she originally thought was possible.
“There are just so many open doors and windows here,” Peralta said.
Songs of Eagles and Stars
Peralta’s latest project, “Songs of Eagles and Stars,” was result of her work as a 2021 Mellon-Fronteridades Graduate Fellowship with the University of Arizona Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry. Graduate students were awarded scholarship to conduct border-engaged research, focused on building new public understanding and interpretation of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Confluencenter is a research center that sponsors “cross-disciplinary collaboration and projects that address complex issues in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.” Thanks to voice professor, Dr. Kristin Dauphinais, Peralta used the opportunity to bring both sides of her culture and education together.
“I had the idea to find music from the north part of Mexico and the southern part of the United States. I got to bring together the music from different cultures to make this beautiful video,” Peralta said. “It has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”
The video brings together musicians from both sides of the border, singing two traditional songs from both the U.S. and Mexico, singing in Spanish and English, using the words appropriate for each cultural identity. The video shows the singers and musicians performing in both countries, in their own atmospheres and circumstances.
Peralta said that the support and preparation that she has gained from the Fred Fox School of Music was an integral part of helping her complete the project.
“English is not my first language,” Peralta said. “Speaking English all the time with my friends and professors gave me the confidence and courage to apply for a project of this size.”
Overall, Peralta said the project with the Confluencenter has been amazing way to combine her musical, academic, and cultural interests.
“It has been a great and amazing adventure,” Peralta said. “I have learned so much from my teachers and colleagues throughout the whole process.”
Outside of her classes and research endeavors, Peralta is a regular in the casts of the annual Fred Fox School of Music Opera Productions. You may recognize her from the production of Carmen or as the title role of Lady Rhondda in Rhondda, Rips it Up!
“I think operas are the perfect real-life application of all that we learn in our classes,” Peralta said. “It is so rewarding to see the final product of months and months of hard work.”
Peralta said that if the past several months have taught her anything it is that “plans” are not everything. She has found that just flowing and finding ways to do what she loves has served her well.
For aspiring vocalists, Peralta says that it is important to explore all facets of the arts.
“There is nothing more important than the passion that brings us to do something. Music is worth more than time, than money, than contracts. It is the way that it makes us feel that is worth it. The arts are not against each other. All of us should sing, dance, write, paint, and do everything we can.”