News Release! Redlands Opera Theatre. Sept. 15, 2016.

Golda Berkman, 17, makes professional opera debut with Redlands Opera Theatre’s Gianni Schicchi on Nov. 4 

Award-winning singer taking next step in remarkable career

REDLANDS – Golda Berkman was only 9 when she first sang "O mio babbino caro,” one of the greatest arias of opera.

Now 17, she sings it again in her professional opera debut portraying the starring role of Lauretta in Redlands Opera Theatre’s presentation of Puccini’s comic opera Gianni Schicchi on Nov. 4, 5 and 12, 13 at Kimberly Hall-First Congregational Church of Redlands, 2 W. Olive Ave., Redlands, CA 92373. Performances are at 7 p.m. except on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 3 p.m.

 

Making a professional opera debut is a dream that comes later for many singers. Golda fully appreciates how important this performance will be. “I’m grateful to be able to do this at my age,” she said. “They (Redlands Opera Theatre directors) are giving me so much encouragement that they believe I can perform with professionals in such a full production.”

 

Redlands Opera Theatre Founder and Music Director Christa Stevens experienced Golda’s singing skills as the two performed at Dream Orchestra concerts last year in Santa Monica. “Golda is a wonderful musician, a wonderful colleague,” Stevens told KVC aRts host David Fleming during an interview on KVCR.com. “We’re thrilled to have her with us this season.” “She was one of the youngest Grand Prize finalists in classical voice for the Spotlight Awards of the Music Center and she’s performed at Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall,” Stevens continued. “She’s performed operatic selections with Vittorio Grigolo and Vladimir Chernov. She is a regular concert soloist with the Dream Orchestra and Opera Chorus of Los Angeles.”

 

The opera’s plot is based on an incident mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy, when Dante visits the Circle of Impersonators and sees a man savagely attacking another. The attacker is Schicchi, condemned to Hell for impersonating Buoso Donati and making his will highly favorable to Schicchi. Golda portrays Schicchi’s daughter Lauretta, who hopes to marry Rinuccio, but his uncle forbids the marriage because of Schicchi’s humble beginnings.

 

Puccini turns the Divine Comedy incident into literally operatic comedy. “It’s a very funny opera,” Golda explains. “It’s a dark comedy because characters are manipulating a dead guy’s will. I actually think this could be a good movie.” Maybe Woody Allen would direct the movie, just as he did LA Opera’s Gianni Schicchi in 2008.

 

Learning Lauretta’s songs is just a part of Golda’s job for the Redlands Opera Theatre production. The Beverly Hills High School senior is busy researching Florence – its societal norms, daily life, culture, costumes. “I not only have to be ready vocally, but I have to understand Florence in the time period. Judging Laurette by the just the music makes her seem superficial, but there’s more substance to Lauretta,” she explained. "O mio babbino caro” has long been a favorite for Golda. “My parents play opera music all the time, and many times they have suggested I try certain songs,” she said. “One of the ways I learn the repertoire is I either become obsessed with a particular song or my Mom or Dad would suggest that I sing a particular song. My Mom has a very good ear; she understands tone and listens to different singers with voices similar to mine. She knows what would be good for my voice". 

 

“As soon as she heard that song, she went up to 9-year-old me and said she thought I could sing it. We went to my voice teacher and she said it would be a great song. “I have been so lucky to have the best people around me. I feel as though I wouldn’t have come this far and sung so much if it wasn’t for audience members who have supported me, family and friends and Facebook followers who have cheered me on.”

Golda has been preparing for this moment since before kindergarten. Now she joyously adds to her repertoire with fearless delight. “I was 4 when I saw The Magic Flute,” Golda recalled. “I was just in awe of the grandiose sets and performers. When I got in the car afterward I was so happy and singing. I knew this was going to be my career.”

 

Golda made her Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall debuts at 15. At 11, she performed the role of Mrs. Jaffet in LA Opera’s production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde conducted by Maestro James Conlon, who also directed her in LA Opera’s production of Brundibar by Hans Krasa in 2012.

 

Not only does Golda’s singing transcend her age, but so too her composure and emotion during performances. In addition to performing with the Dream Orchestra, she sang with the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra and the L.A. Lawyers Philharmonic. Last May, Golda performed at a private event honoring Princess Charlene of Monaco at Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

 

Founded in 2012, Redlands Opera Theatre serves Redlands, the County of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire with its mission to educate and entertain by providing quality professional level classical vocal music and to establish the widest possible audience for classical vocal music through cultural, educational, and community activities.

 

For more information about Redlands Opera Theatre’s production of Gianni Schicchi, visit www.redlandsoperatheatre.com.