Influential People | Student Blog

Monday, Apr 22, 2019
Maggie Valdman
Admissions Blog
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Maggie and fellow students at rehearsal
Maggie and classmates rehearsing

This week, I received a wonderful opportunity: coaching with one of the greatest mezzo sopranos around today, Isabel Leonard.

Juilliard Vocal Arts sent me an email, confirmed my rep, and gave me a private space to work on some of my important arias one-on-one, with Isabel. Isabel has been an idol of mine since the beginning of my journey at Juilliard. When I first met my wonderful voice teacher, Edith Bers, she pulled out a magazine with Isabel on the cover, and when I saw her elegant picture and heard about her brilliant career, I knew that this was who I wanted to emulate. Since then, I have continued my pursuits of an operatic career through my studies at Juilliard with the help of many amazing, influential people.

Isabel had studied with the same teacher I am and pursued the path I dream of taking. It is absolutely unbelievable that I now had the opportunity to work with her and learn from her about her focus, her work, her habits, and what she thinks about when she sings. In addition, Isabel is rehearsing at the Met currently for Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmélites, and she invited me to join her backstage at the met to observe the rehearsal. I have been to the Met many times and seen thrilling performances, but I have to say that the excitement I felt as I got to walk backstage into the actual rehearsal space of the building that I dream of performing in one day, following close behind my idol, was something I will never forget. I followed Isabel to the stage left wing of the Met stage and got to see the tremendous view of the tallest audience balcony I had ever seen. Then, we proceeded down to the rehearsal room where I was able to watch the rehearsal process with her colleagues, who were all amazing. This was such an exciting opportunity that I am so grateful to have had, and it is all because of Juilliard's connections that we have these opportunities for us to find wonderful people like Isabel who are willing to inspire and teach.

Some of the other influential people I have met while studying at Juilliard and living in New York are my teachers, coaches, and other colleagues. I am not going to list out all the other names here, but they are amazing people who happen to currently work and teach at the Met and sing around the world. My coaches are my true support system who help me to understand both my artistry and my musical goals. I see them every week in order to improve and prepare for my upcoming projects. For example, I am currently preparing to sing the role of Carmen with City Lyric Opera in its presentation of Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen, and without the superb French coaching I am receiving from my brilliant coaches, I would not be nearly as prepared. In addition to my coaches, I am also so grateful for my conservatory teachers for giving me the knowledge I need to better perform and understand music. And my voice teacher has helped me navigate the troubled waters of voice technique to allow me to find a method of singing that is most healthy and would allow me to sing for a longer career time. These are all influential people who support me on my journey.

There is nothing greater than knowing that the people surrounding me are some of the most talented, educated, and supportive musicians in the world. I know that with the help of these extremely influential people in my life I am truly blessed and supported. I really feel that opportunities like this are truly valuable to have at any conservatory but with Juilliard's proximity to the Met and connections with some of the best influential artists in the world, I am thrilled to be building relationships and finding wonderful people like Isabel who are willing to mentor and inspire.

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you in the next blog!

Xoxo, Maggie