Liz Caballero is an American soprano of Cuban origin. Like many successful professional singers she never really planned to be one. Opera wasn’t part of her childhood experience as a Cuban refugee in Southern Florida. Like many young people she sang in school and church choirs and often got to take solo roles but she didn’t have a voice lesson until she was at university. Her break came in 1995 when, on a whim, she entered the Pavarotti International Voice Competition in Miami and made it to the finals in Philadelphia. Pavarotti encouraged her to develop her raw talent which led to stints in young artists programs in Miami and San Francisco and to her current busy career mainly singing Puccini and Verdi roles in US regional houses.
I asked her about how she wanted her career to develop and two themes emerged. One was a desire to safeguard and polish her voice with a view to a long career. She loves what she does and wants to keep doing it. She talked about singers like Mirella Freni who had been able to keep singing for decades. She also has repertoire ambitions. Early Verdi attracts her for the purity of the bel canto style. She also has designs on Strauss roles such as Arabella and, eventually, the Marschallin. She has also branched out into some less mainstream repertoire singing Anne Truelove in Rio a couple of years ago. She’ll continue this with Zemfira in Rachmaninoff’s Aleko in Charlotte in the spring in a double bill with Pagliacci. She’s also interested in working more with young singers though keen to stress that she means as a mentor not a voice teacher!
I spent a fair bit of my career travelling to not always well known parts of the US and I was interested in Liz’s take on working in places like Madison and Kansas City. She loves it! In places where they don’t get too much opera, she gets treated “like a rock star”. Picked up at the airport. Entertained. This does not happen to management consultants. Trust me.
Sadly, Liz has no plans to sing in Canada though she has worked in Montreal and would love to do so again. That said, in November, Violettas in Pensecola and Turandots in California sound a whole lot better than shivering up here.