Today we’d like to introduce you to Evelyn Saavedra.
Evelyn, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I come from a family of doctors, engineers, and architects so you can imagine the shock when my mother realized I had a knack for singing, and even more so, when I started to delve into opera. According to my mother, when I was an infant, I use to have such a loud and shrill cry, that neighbors would often complain about being able to hear me from several blocks away. My mother, in an effort to remain calm and collected would often think “If only this loud, shrill voice could be used for something OTHER than crying!”…little did she know…
It was my elementary music teacher who actually realized that I had musical gifts and who encouraged me to get up onstage and start performing. I went through several musical phases before I found my niche. I loved singing pop, jazz standards, and as a young child, I even had a disco phase. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a VHS tape somewhere of me singing Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” in a school talent show. This… I’m hoping will never see the light of day!
Eventually, I started singing in choir and made my way to my first formal voice lesson. Here, I realized that I had a voice that had a natural “lyrical” or “operatic” quality and I just dove right in. It was a style of singing that came very natural to me. It was a style of singing that I had never heard before and it was fascinating to me.
In high school I saw my first opera, Verdi’s Aïda, and I was totally hooked! The scenery, the ballet, the singers, the DRAMA. I felt the sheer power and strength of the human spirit and it was so touching, that I thought to myself… “This is what I want to do.” I remember I went home and I told my mother, “Mom, I’m not going to be a lawyer, a doctor, or an architect; I’m going to be a singer, an OPERA singer.” I remember my mother took a moment to process what I had just said, and after a moment, she responded: “Well, if that’s what you want to do in life, then you’ve got yourself the right mother.” She was right. My mother’s support has been completely unwavering ever since.
After high school, I completed my undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance at Florida International University and then went on to pursue my Master’s Degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Following my studies, I completed two seasons as an Artist in Resident at Pensacola Opera in Pensacola, Florida. Here, I learned all of the practical things about the business of singing, the sorts of things that they just don’t teach you in school. It was the first time that I was truly on my own, without the safety net of my teachers and community, but it was an incredibly valuable growing experience for me both as as a person and as an artist. This program forced me to put things into perspective. They gave me the support system, strength and courage to invest even more into my singing.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
The reason why I’ve always been so attracted to opera is because I feel that it shows the human spirit in its most raw and elevated form and reminds us of everything that makes us human. If you really think about it, an opera incorporates every single art form and features it at its most sublime. In an opera, everything is larger, everything is grander, everything is bigger, and larger than life.
Although it is an art form that can seem over the top, or elitist, it actually has much more of a universal appeal than most people realize. There’s a reason why these works have stood the test of time. They tell stories that are timeless. If you look past small details, these are stories that are transcendent and which can still be incredibly relatable to people today.
I also love the sense of community involved when performing in an opera. It really does take a village, from the stage hands to the design team, to the musicians in the orchestra pit, so many people are involved in making a production happen. Not to mention the audience, which commit themselves to coming together and sharing this journey in one space. I think this is so beautiful.
How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
I think that if you are happy with what you bring to the table, not only in your career path, but also in your relationships, then to me, this is the definition of success.
Unfortunately, this is an industry where you often face an overwhelming amount of rejection, and it can be really difficult to grapple with the idea or definition of success. However, I think that the key element in finding success, is having a strong sense of self, being objective, and most importantly, learning to enjoy the process of being in the trenches, because success is nothing without daily work and goals set to plans.
Nothing worth having comes easily.
Success is not an uphill battle. Success often takes you in many different directions before you finally find that “happy place”. In fact, it’s often a large list of failures that have led people to realize the sort of shift or direction they needed to take, in order to achieve their goals.
Most importantly, is the reminder that you don’t stop working once you’ve reached success, you KEEP working to MAINTAIN that success. I think this is another important key, not waiting for inspiration to strike, but instead, learning to enjoy the idea that you have to carve out your place and that this will take patience, time, sacrifice, heart, and a lot of determination. This is why I think that learning to enjoying the process is absolutely vital to finding success.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have a website, www.evelynsaavedra.
Nic Minetor, Bart Barczyk and Meg Burke Photography