Paula Rivera Takes Center Stage
Lower School Music Teacher Paula Rivera is a woman of many talents, including singing with Opera Philadelphia in their production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Paula sat down with us to talk about how she first fell in love with opera and why music education is so important for our students.
When Did Your Love for Opera Begin?
My parents always had opera LPs playing when I was growing up. Listening to, and talking about, opera has always just been part of my life. I fell in love with the stories and was lucky to just be surrounded by opera from a very early age.
What’s Been Your Favorite Role?
I can’t pick just one because every role is so interesting in its own way! As a Mezzo-Soprano, I’m usually in a supporting role as a funny character. Most operas feature a Soprano singing a lead role of a young, innocent, “good girl”. Mezzo-Sopranos like me are usually witches, evil stepsisters, or some other sort of odd character in the opera. These parts are also usually dramatic and really interesting for me to play. Last summer I played Baba in Medium, which was a lead role and very challenging because the character was dark and completely opposite of me.
What’s Your Favorite Opera?
I love Mozart. Don Giovanni’s always been one of my favorite operas and I also like modern operas. I usually fall in love with whatever I’m working on at the time, which is probably a good thing!
Do You Incorporate Opera in Greene Street Friends’ Lower School Music Curriculum?
We teach the principles of healthy singing all the way through the GSFS Music Curriculum and do an introduction to opera. We listen to pieces and then, as a large group, discuss plots and I would love to introduce an entire opera unit in 3rd Grade this year.
Why Do You Think Music Education is Important?
This is such a big question! Arts are fundamentally important because they are part of the whole child, which we often talk about here at Greene Street Friends. We use so many different parts of the brain in music. Singing in an ensemble teaches confidence, creates a sense of community, learn to listen, and work together. Music education also combines so many academic subjects, like mathematics. It’s also a vital way to express yourself creatively. Music is everything!
If You Could Meet Any Opera Composer or Singer, Who Would It Be and Why?
I would love to meet Mozart. I have always been fascinated by his music and would love to be able to have a one on one conversation with a talent of his magnitude. Music was Mozart’s first language and he could express absolutely anything through his music.