Roughly 39,000 people have heard of Nadine Sierra; that’s the number, anyway, of people who have watched her sing Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” on YouTube (see below). And while those are respectable but not breakout numbers, they’re 10,000 more than the Maria Callas video of the same song. Sierra’s relative obscurity is going to change. She’s going to be our city’s next star soprano.
The Fort Lauderdale native and New York transplant was only one of four winners this year–and the only woman–of the Metropolitan Opera’s prestigious National Council Auditions. The list of past winners reads like a who’s who of opera stars: Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Ben Heppner, Nathan Gunn… It’s merely the latest success for the buzz-generating Sierra; only barely out of her teens, she has been attracting attention for years: at 16, she was singing Humperdinck in Palm Beach; in 2004, she made a splash belting Puccini on NPR; three years later she took the Marilyn Horne Foundation Award at the Music Academy of the West and was the youngest person ever to do so.
Critics have noted she’s not quite ready to take center stage yet: her low notes could use some sharpening, her diction a bit of polishing. Currently, she’s finishing her degree at the New School’s Mannes College according to her Facebook profile, she should graduate next year; she also likes Maria Callas and Michael Jackson, Twilight and gay marriage — in between recitals and competitions. It may take her some years to get to the big time, but remember the name. You’re going to see it in future programs.
Nadine at age 17, performing "O mio babbino caro":
At age 18:
At age 20:
Where you’ll hear her work next: at school.