May 11, 2004 > Soprano Returns to LOV Newark
Soprano Returns to LOV Newark
by Mekala Raman
Almost three years ago, I performed in Star Struck Musical Theatre & Broadway West's fundraiser, "Night of Broadway". I remember the excitement and anticipation of not only my own performance, but the abundant talent of the other performers as well, many of whom were professional singers. One in particular left me awestruck. As the lights came up from a blackout they illuminated a lady dressed in a long, red dress as she walked gracefully onto the stage and stood, poised, to begin her song. Rich, melodious notes poured forth as she sang familiar tunes from The Sound of Music. This gifted artist, Barbara Divis, is a professional opera singer.
Though Ms. Divis is talented and gifted with excellent stage presence, this is a result of years of training. Through participation in choirs and classes to enhance her musical ability, she became a good musician. However, stage presence was a lot harder to attain. "Every year, my school had a talent show, and I kept thinking 'THIS year, I'm going to audition... and every single year, I chickened out!" says Divis. "I never got the chance to perform for my classmates, because I couldn't face up to the fear of singing in public, except in church." She finally performed her debut solo when she was fifteen years old.
Opera was not a life-long dream for Divis - the army was actually far more enticing. Her brother and two sisters all received army appointments, but Barbara graduated from college without such experience. "I was the only Divis without any army experience, and I was the one who wanted to go into the army the most," she muses.
Barbara's mother was an opera singer before she gave it up to get married, so opera was no stranger to the family. Private voice lessons, piano, music literature, music theory, music diction, sight-singing, and opera workshops were stepping stones to Barbara's career. Besides a music major in both undergraduate and graduate school, she studied acting, stage movement, ballet, fencing, French, and Italian classes. Although a successful opera career is tenuous, Barbara was determined to gave it a try and has achieved success.
Once Divis began her career, she worked with various operas until joining Opera San Jose in 1996 where she stayed until 2000. Since 2000 she has worked with other operas in the United States. Divis has brilliantly performed many leading roles including Curley's wife from Of Mice and Men and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Her involvement in the Opera San Jose brought her to the Tri-City area when she performed for LOV Newark in 1997. There she met Karen Joshi, one of my performing peers, and formed a close correspondence with her. Karen brought her to Fremont to watch Star Struck (previously Kids on Broadway) productions, which Divis thoroughly enjoyed. On May 23 she will be returning to sing at LOV Newark and Karen's aunt will be playing the piano accompaniment for her.
Divis's belief in her passion brought her to where she is today. Although her current success was never certain, she pushed it in that direction by training hard, taking extra courses, and giving 100 percent concentration on her goal. As she says, "It's a scary ride, that's for sure, but I'm a firm believer in 'doing what you love'."
Come and hear Barbara Divis on Sunday - May 23, 2004 at 2 p.m. at the LOV community service center 35233-c Newark blvd. - in the Lido Faire shopping center. Tickets available at the door - Adults $6; $4 seniors and students ages 12-18 and $2 children. Complimentary refreshments will be provided. For information call 793-5683 or visit www.lov.org