The Center for Musical Arts has a variety of talented teachers. In this interview we spoke with voice and piano instructor Dianela Acosta about her passion for opera, her career path, and more.
Center for Musical Arts: Hello! My name is Erica Reid, I am the Marketing Manager for the Center for Musical Arts, and I just absolutely love interviewing our faculty members. I’ve gotten to know about a dozen of them so far. Today, I am talking with Dianela Acosta. How are you doing, Dianela?
Dianela Acosta: I’m doing great. Thanks, Erica.
Center: It’s so great to talk to you this morning. Can you just start us off and tell us about your history with the Center and what brought you here in the first place?
Dianela: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve been working at the Center for the Musical Arts, maybe for about four years, my main instrument is voice. And I’m a classically trained mezzo-soprano. And I also teach beginning through intermediate piano. I have a small teaching studio that I keep in my busy schedule, because I do so many other things.
Center: Well, let’s jump to some of the other things first. Let’s talk about opera. You founded Boulder Opera, and I know opera is a big part of your life. Can you tell me how that fits in?
Dianela: Absolutely. Well first I think that being a performer makes you a better teacher, and vice versa, being a teacher makes you a better performer. But yeah, the Boulder Opera, I founded the company about 10 years ago. We’re actually celebrating our 10th season anniversary this season.
Dianela: Thank you! So we’re super excited about reaching this milestone. I moved to Boulder about 10 years ago. And I came from New York where I was performing with other opera companies where they were doing these family performances. So they would take any of the main stage performances they were doing, and then they would do a shorter version of them and offer them to families with their children. And so when I came to Boulder, I missed doing that and realized that there was nothing like that here. And so I produced a short version of Cenerentola by Rossini (Cinderella).
And it was a total success. People loved it. Families came with their five-year-olds, really young kids. And they loved the familiarity of the story. And parents want to introduce their kids to the arts and culture. So it was a hit. And then from there, we did Magic Flute, which was a tremendous success, because everybody loves the music and the magic of what the opera offers. And from there, we just went on to build a team and a whole season. Every season we present a gala concert, a main stage opera. We just started a resident artist program that helps singers develop their craft and continue to develop professionally.
And we offer them all sorts of professional development opportunities. What else do we do? We do so much. We sing in restaurants. We do full operas in restaurants. Yeah. We’ve grown quite a bit since then.
Center: So can I ask, at what age did you fall in love with opera? How were you first exposed to this art form?
Dianela: It’s very strange, because there’s no history of opera loving in my family. But I just like to sing. And then I moved to New York when I was 18. Went to the Met, and I saw Madame Butterfly, and I was very moved, I always loved singing, and what singing does for me, and what the vocal — the voice does for everybody, for the audience, and for myself.
Center: So tell me a little bit about how you bring that into your lessons with the Center, and what kind of student you work with, what kind of singing you teach? I don’t know much about singing, and its different classifications. So give me a little sense of where you fit in.
Dianela: Yeah, so I’m very much classically inclined, because I’m trained in the classical style. And I think my training, it’s good for any kind of style, because I basically focus on technique and developing young voices, and helping them develop their range, singing naturally and the support of the voice. And then most of my students like to learn musical theater. And so my job is for them to sing with ease, and be expressive, and be able to control their voices.
Center: What I’m hearing is that it’s very versatile and what I can study with you, I can apply to no matter what kind of singing I want to do.
Dianela: Yeah, you got it!
Center: Wonderful. Well, that’s good to know. So when you’re not teaching and when you’re not involved with opera, and Boulder Opera, and other organizations you’re singing with, what else are you doing outside of music?
Dianela: Well, I’m a mom! I have a 13 year old who’s a gymnast, and so I drive her around town for her practices and meets. And then my son is 10 years old and he’s a wrestler. And so he’s also busy. Additionally, they both play instruments. I think it’s super important that everybody learns to play an instrument.
Center: What do they play, if I can ask?
Dianela: My daughter plays the cello, and my son plays the French horn.
Center: All right.
Dianela: I started by teaching them both piano for a few years, and then they both branched out into the individual instruments. So yeah, being a mom takes a lot of time. [laughs]
Center: So is there anything else we haven’t talked about that you think a potential student, it would be important for them to know? Either about the Center for Musical Arts or your classes? Or if they’re curious about opera, or anything like that?
Dianela: Well, I wanted to talk a little bit about my philosophy, which I think, what really excites me about the Center for the Musical Arts is their mission statement, that they believe that music is for all. My philosophy really aligns with that. I feel that everyone is capable of singing, and learning to play the piano, and all it takes is being patient and consistent with their instruments. And so I do believe that everyone with time and applying themselves that they can really learn how to sing.
Center: Yeah. I think that’s really important to underscore, especially because we talk so much about opera, and I think that that can be intimidating for some people. But we all start somewhere, don’t we? And I think that what you’re describing are the building blocks of music.
And, I don’t study a lot of music myself, I’ve worked for the Center for about a year and I’m learning so much through these conversations. And wondering if I shouldn’t start, because everybody’s talking about how important it has been in their lives, and how foundational. When talking to a student like me, an adult, would you recommend they start with piano and voice?
Dianela: Absolutely. I think the piano would be sort of the instrument that everybody should learn, because from there, then you can learn any other instrument. Especially if you want to sing, you should have some basics of the piano. It teaches you intonation. It teaches you rhythm. And those are great skills to have for any kind of instrument that you’re going to do. And especially for singing, too. You want to be able to read music.
Center: Yeah. Do you work with students of all ages?
Dianela: Yeah. I’ve had students as young as seven years old, and I’ve had students as old as 76.
Center: That’s fantastic to hear. These interviews are so interesting for me to do, just to understand the breadth and depth of what we offer here, and how many great instructors we have, who, while they all have a different philosophy and a different approach to teaching, so many things are in common about the passion of teaching every student, of every age, and ability. And so I’m really glad to hear that’s something important to you at the Center, Dianela.
Dianela: Yeah, absolutely. I think, I try to adapt to the pace of learning of every different student. So some students just need more time, and so there’s a lot of repetition. Other students just go really fast, so you got to be right there with them and meet them at their pace. So it’s a huge learning experience for me as well, to adapt to what everybody needs.
Center: Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else you’d like to say, Dianela, or have we covered it?
Dianela: I think we’ve covered most of it. Yeah.
Dianela: Thank you so much for your time.
Center: Wonderful. It was lovely to meet you.