Teenager dreams of a career on the opera stage

Education By David Snelling, Reporter Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Remember the name Anabelle Calles.

The Miami Lakes teenager has a strong soprano voice and the acting chops, too, to support her ambitions to become an opera singer.

And Anabelle, 14, is getting encouragement from professionals who recognize artistic talent.

She was a semi-finalist last year and on June 5th, won the Vocal Broadway Jazz/Classical category
 in the Young Talent Big Dreams competition, sponsored by The Children’s Trust and presented by the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.

“We couldn’t believe I won,” Anabelle said of the screams that came from her and her mother Beatriz Diaz during the livestreamed ceremony. “We jumped up and down and were very excited.”

Also in June, she auditioned for the Coral Gables Music Club, which invited her to join and awarded her a $300 scholarship.

Anabelle says her sixth grade music teacher, Alexis J. Villalta at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Hialeah, inspired her to pursue a career in opera.

Villalta was also an opera performer and often sang for her students, Anabelle said.
“She has a beautiful voice, and I was so impressed, I wanted to be
like her,” said Anabelle. “I knew right then I wanted to sing like her and become a professional opera singer.”

Anabelle’s late maternal grandfather in Cuba, Pablo Diaz, was a tenor who sang as an amateur, said her mother who always has opera playing in the car.

Anabelle also attended Miami Lakes Middle School and will be a freshman in August at Barbara Goleman Senior High School.

For the Young Talent Big Dreams contest, she submitted two videos, including of her singing “L’ho Perduta” (I Lost It) from Mozart’s comic opera, “Lenozze di Figarro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”).

She said she chose the song because “it’s beautiful. The lyrics are sweet music to my ears. I love that song.”

Her prizes were four tickets to a show at the Actors’ Playhouse, $50 and a master class with Jared Peroune, who is a pianist coach with Florida Grand Opera Studio.

Previous winners of the Young Talent Big Dreams competition have competed on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” The Children’s Trust and the Actors’ Playhouse said.

For her successful audition for the Coral Gables Music Club, Anabelle submitted video performances of “Noche Hermosa” (“Beautiful Night”) by Pablo Sorozabal and “Gesu Bambino,” (“Baby Jesus”) by Pietro Yon.

They are her favorite songs to sing, she said.

The club membership and scholarship will allow her to showcase her talent at recitals, and she’ll learn how to shoot and edit music videos, too.

“This is exciting for me,” Anabelle said. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to pursue my music career.”

Anabelle’s performances can be found on YouTube by searching for her name.

Last year she began private singing lessons with Manny Perez, an opera producer, performer and recording artist who has coached opera singers for the past 30 years.

“I learned a lot from him,” Annabelle said. “He taught me how to sing opera. I never sang it before but thanks to him, I’m getting better every day.”

Perez said he believes the art form is Anabelle’s true calling.

“She took to it like a sponge,” said Perez. “It was like in her DNA.”

She performed last year in his adaptation of “The Marriage of Figaro.”

“She played the part of a young girl and made it come to life,” he said. “I foresee a brilliant future in whatever she chooses to pursue in her life. But my hope is that singing will always be a big part of her future.”

Anabelle’s family includes her mother, father Jose Calles, who is an account manager for Avid Technology and sister Nicole, 21, a college student.

Diaz, a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages at Miami Lakes Middle School, said the neighbors have heard her daughter sing when she is in the shower.

“They love her singing and said she will be a professional singer someday,” said the proud mom.

“She’s accomplished a lot so far,” Diaz said. “I believe she will make it.”

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