A Diva in our Aria

Published on: November 15, 2007

Lydia Cepeda's father advised her to "Have the land ready for the rain" a Mexican saying which is equivalent to "Be ready when opportunity knocks." This was good advice for the singer who will travel to Italy to star in Puccini's Tosca in Rome in 2008.

Cepeda, born in Monterrey, Mexico, knew she wanted to perform when she was eight years old. She wanted to be a rock star. Her father would not allow her to enter a competition for eight-to-ten year olds in singing. He told her that if she wanted to become a real she would have to go to school and study.

It took Cepeda five years to gain admission to the Universidad Regiomontana in Monterrey. She described the program as "intense and difficult."

"My teacher would call you up to sing in front of everyone. She had no patience; if you did not perform well you sat down." The teacher, Graciela Suarez, was the leading soprano in Mexico. She was tough on her students and Cepeda is thankful for her training. When her work was finished, Ms. Suarez told her student, "Go sing." Instead Lydia got married and had three children.

"My teacher was so mad at me that she would not come to our wedding." For seven years the future diva did not sing. When she talked to her mentor she was asked, "Are you happy?" when Cepeda answered yes, the teacher would say, "Now go away."

Cepeda describes her live in those years as feeling like an international gypsy. The family lived in Norway, the Netherlands, and Miami.

Lydia restarted her singing career when she was 7 months pregnant with her third child. She had a small part in a performance produced by the Lone Star College-Kingwood Opera Workshop. When her efforts to perform in the United States were stalled by her age, Cepeda looked to Europe where she was to compete in the "young group".

"Europeans understand that age is better. The hormones of a woman as she ages help her voice gain extra color."  She admits that it was hard work to prepare for the competition in Salerno. Her mentor from college told her, "Go win."

After three rounds of singing, working with a new pianist, and constant coaching on dress and all matters opera, she won the opportunity to grace the stage in the lead role of Tosca. Her beautiful voice helped her win her dream role.

Her career is now taking off. She will compete again in Rome in November. The Vocal Internationale d' Musica Sacra, will be held in three churches in Rome with the finals broadcast on Italian TV. The second competition, named after the famed tenor Tito Schipa, will be held a few weeks later.

Cepeda learned classical Italian for her singing, and is now attempting to learn modern Italian in order to understand the compliments that will come her way. She credits her support in part to the support of her family.

Dr. Todd Miller, Lone Star College-Kingwood professor of music, has discussed with her the idea of singing with the Kentucky Opera in Louisville and perhaps going back to school to earn a Masters in Music. All this is in the future, but if her old mentor gave her any advice today, it would be "Keep singing."

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