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Natalia Santaliz Brings Puerto Rican Flavor to Love Songs
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Soprano Natalia Santaliz was a resident artist at Opera San Jose during the 2022-2023 season.
   
Friday, February 9, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Natalia Santaliz, her parents said, was “a shy, grumpy baby.”

So, imagine their surprise when she turned into an extroverted classical singer, full of gratitude for the places she’s gotten to travel and the people she’s gotten to meet as the result of performing in Alma Deutscher’s “Cinderella” and Verdi’s “Falstaff” with Opera San Jose and other programs.

She will sing during two performances for Sun Valley Opera and Broadway on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 12-13. And this native of Puerto Rico wouldn’t even mind giving skiing a try while she’s here.

“What an exciting opportunity for me. Everyone tells me great things about Sun Valley. And, I’ve never skied before, but hopefully…” the soprano said.

Given the proximity to Valentine’s Day, Santaliz will present a program titled “Bohemia Romantica” at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum. It will include such songs as “Till There was You” from “The Music Man”,” Conseulo Velazquez’s “Besame Mucho,” “Audition” from “La La Land” and “Think of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera.

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, she will perform at a Queen of Herts High Tea catered by Silver Fox Catering and Salon Concert from 4 to 6 p.m. in a private home. That concert will feature “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music,” “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady,” “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” and Giovanni Capurro’s “O Solo Mio.”

Tickets to the two concerts are available at https://www.sunvalleyopera.com or by calling 208-726-0991.

“They’re such fun concerts, and I am very excited to meet the community—I am looking forward to meeting everybody,” said Santaliz, who brings a Latin flavor to her work.

Santaliz grew up 30 minutes from the beach in the countryside on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Her father is an information technology worker for a company that provides heart valves. Her mother works in education.

Santaliz was exposed to music early, using song to memorize academic material. And her parents soon enrolled her in afterschool music school so she could learn music more formally.

“At first, I didn’t like choir but, as I did it, I learned to like it more and more. When I graduated high school, I decided to pursue music more.”

Just as choir grew on her, so did opera.

“There was always music in my home of all kinds,” Santaliz said. “And, while I didn’t like opera growing up, I enjoyed jazz, musical theater and pop music. But my voice teacher wanted me to learn the classical. And, while I did it because I had to, I slowly started enjoying it. When the time came for college, there was no popular music program for undergrads, so my only option was classical. And now I love it.”

One of the things Santaliz loves about classical music is the connection it has to all kinds of cultures.

“I love traveling and getting to know other cultures. I love learning other languages, and the background of each piece is so interesting to me.”

Being an opera singer from Puerto Rico has not been without its challenges. Santaliz was studying in New York when Hurricane Fiona unleashed widespread flooding in Puerto Rico in October 2022.

“It was a very bad time, indeed. I lost contact with family members for so long,” she said. “When we have hurricanes we can lose electricity for a couple months so I miss a lot of audition opportunities. My family and I always work very hard to be ready for hurricane season with generator and emergency food. We always have lots of things in our garden, including bananas and oranges. Luckily our home hasn’t suffered any damage in recent hurricanes, but it can be a while before we can go downtown because roads are blocked by trees. So, we are isolated for a while.”

In addition to performing the title role in Cinderella” and the role of Nannett in “Falstaff,” Santaliz has sang the role of Susanna in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” and Marenka in “The Bartered Bride.”

She performed with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Festival Napa Valley. She was the soprano soloist in John Rutter’s “Requiem” with the Puerto Rico Symphony, and she sang on The Blue Project: Puerto Rican Folk Music presented by New World Symphony.

When not on the road singing, Santaliz offers a music program outreach to communities in need.

“My choir, when I was young, always did activities for the community. Now I am, too,” she said. “And one of my goals is to perform, to provide a musical experience, for children who have been removed from their homes.”

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