Israeli opera singer steps up at Masada
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She was in the aria

Israeli opera singer steps up at Masada

Local understudy takes on ‘Carmen’ lead role after soloist loses her voice and backup is unable to perform

For the third consecutive year, the Israeli Opera is conducting special late-night performances at the historical desert site of Masada, but for the first time, an unlikely Israeli heroine was called upon to save the day.

On Thursday night, the opening performance of “Carmen” lit up the desert sky. The opera featured Nancy Fabiola Herrera, the world-renowned Venezuelan-born mezzo-soprano as the soloist playing the role of Carmen, but by the end of the first act she had lost her voice in the dry desert air and was unable to continue.

As it happened, her understudy, Italian singer Anna Malavasi — who was already singing some of the opera’s solo pieces in order to lighten Herrera’s heavy singing load — had been slightly injured the previous day during rehearsal.

So the opera turned to its “third string” singer, 27-year-old Israeli Na’ama Goldman, who until now has only appeared in minor operatic roles.

Na'ama Goldman (photo credit: The Israeli Opera)
Na'ama Goldman (photo credit: The Israeli Opera)

While Goldman, a relative newcomer, replaced the seasoned veteran Herrera as the soloist, according to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth her performance was every bit as professional and enjoyable.

In an interview with Yedioth, Goldman said she has yet to internalize everything that had happened to her, and that singing the lead in Carmen at Masada was “like a dream.” She was familiar with the role, but other than the final rehearsal had never actually performed it on stage.

“I was warming up my voice backstage” Goldman told Yedioth. “I was not dressed as Carmen, and was not wearing the makeup.”

Originally trained as a pianist, Goldman made the switch to opera singer just before her enlistment to the IDF. She describes the terrible stage fright that she had as a pianist which led to her changing musical direction. “But when I sing, I can really be myself,” she explained.

The first time the Israeli Opera performed a summer series at Masada was in June 2010 with the Verdi opera “Nabucco.” The company followed up that show with a performance of “Aida” in 2011, and is planning “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini for June 2013.

Goldman makes no predictions for her future, saying only that she’ll “go wherever life takes” her.

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