Mayda Prado

Soprano, Cuban-born American professor with a long history of performances and excellent special gifts for teaching vocal technic and stage performance. Thanks to her powerful vocal technique, magnificent expressive powers and her innate sense of interpretation, coupled with her vast knowledge of music in general, Mayda Prado is a case of "rara-avis" of lyrical art, not only for her professionalism but also for her culture. These virtues joint to her intelligence and overwhelming talent, are rooted in the teachings received from important teachers such as Kurt Schlossberger from Munich, who started her studies and led her to understand the greatness of the best Italian songs and the fine art of Lieder, to finally guide her into its interpretations from an early age. Other relevant personalities that marked her career was the visionary Master of Masters Samuel Margolis in New York, the legendary Gina Cigna in Milan, and the unmatched Maria Callas, who selected Prado from hundreds of candidates to participate in her Master Classes at The Juilliard School in New York, when the girl was not from that prestigious school. Later, in 1984, she attended under the guidance of Professor Daniel Ferro, and conquered a program of courses planned for six years in only three. She graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees and continued her Doctoral studies. However, concerned about perfecting the operatic repertoire led her footsteps to Milan where under the expertise of soprano Gina Cigna, she worked intensively for several years.

Talent and the natural capacities of Mayda Prado were distinguished from her teens by prominent figures from the world of opera and music including the magnificent soprano Maria Jeritza, the excellent baritone Robert Merrill, composer and producer of Broadway Buddy Kaye who sponsored her studies. Estelle Liebling, student of Mathilde Marchesi, one of the most important teachers of singing during the XIX Century heard her in the studio of Margolis and invited her to sing the title role of "Madame Butterfly" by Puccini on several occasions and whose performances since are seminal. The meteoric rise of her career led her to play major roles in several American opera companies and Latin America, such as The Metropolitan Opera House in its Program for Young Artists (The Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Program); The Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The State Opera of Connecticut; The Long Island Opera; The Opera Staten Island; The Garden State Opera; The Opera of New Jersey, as well as in Colombia Opera and the National Opera of Cuba, among many others.

The breadth of her operatic repertoire reveals a soprano full of subtleties and marked versatility, including the Countess Almaviva and Donna Elvira in Mozart; to Violetta, Desdemona, Leonora and Amelia in Verdi; to Manon of Massenet, Nedda in Leoncavallo, Suzel and Santuzza in Mascagni, or Sandrina in Haydn; the character of Salud and the Trujamán in the works of Manuel de Falla; her Mimi, Cio-Cio-San, and Puccini's Manon and Liu, or Antonia in Offenbach, reaching more than twenty-five important roles. To her performances in these roles, are added repeated occurrences in solo concerts with the London Symphony, The St. Louis Symphony and The Symphony Nova Scotia; The St. John Atlantic Symphony; The North Jersey Symphony; The Bergen Philharmonic, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Caracas and The Eastern Philharmonic of Greensboro, among many of her memorable performances. The concert repertoire with orchestra of Mayda Prado includes, just to name a few, Symphony No. 9 in D major op. 125 of Beethoven, Seven Early Songs of Alban Berg, Les Nuits d'été by Berlioz, El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla, the Letzte Vier Lieder by Richard Strauss, Symphony No. 4 in G Major of Mahler, Canto a Sevilla of Joaquin Turina, the Folk Songs of Luciano Berio, the Cinco Invocaciones al Crucificado and the Cinco Canciones Negras of Xavier Montsalvatge (the latter highly praised in life by the composer himself).

In addition to her performances in operas and concerts, Ms. Prado has offered a long list of recitals in whose repertoire has always been present Italian art songs and Lieder studied at an early age, along with an extensive list of the most important authors like Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Strauss and Hugo Wolf. She has been an acclaimed interpreter of Spanish and Latin American songs, and also her performances full of delicate emotion and good taste of Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc and Samuel Barber have been acclaimed. All these genres to which she has devoted much of her studies and a vast repertoire in several languages (Russian, Portuguese, Hebrew and Latin) are her varied range of expression, where the most classic styles and the most contemporary rub shoulders with equal range of excellence. The vocal qualities, her great interpretive virtues and a peculiar sensibility, have led to a number of contemporary composers from different countries devote so many songs, complete cycles of Lieder and operas to Mayda Prado. Of the outstanding composers it deserves to mention Harold Gramatges, Luis Felipe Ramón y Rivera, Stefano Scotti, Luigi Dell'Orefice, David Diamond, Hilario González, Tulio Peramo, Héctor Campos-Parsi, Eduardo Morales Caso, Luis Aguirre, José Raúl Bernardo and Frank DiGiacomo, specially written for Prado the roles of Laia and Andromache in his operas "The Dybbuck" and "The Trojan Women" respectively, while Caroline Lloyd gave her the title role of Doña Rosita in her opera based on the text of García Lorca "Doña Rosita la Soltera".

Among her countless recitals it is important to mention the performances of Ms. Prado in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and nearly all of North America, in several countries of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. She has performed in famous concert halls in the world, such as Carnegie Hall; Weill Concert Hall; Alice Tully Hall and The Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center; in Town Hall; Merkin Hall; Hunter College Auditorium; C. W. Post College; the Italian House of Columbia University; The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, in Palm Beach, Florida and The Phillips Collection and The Cathedral of and in Washington, D.C.; The Cultural Institute, San Juan, Puerto Rico; at the National Theatre and "Teresa Carreño Theatre" in Caracas Venezuela; in the "Ángela Peralta" Theatre, Mazatlán, Mexico; in the prestigious Sala "Luis Ángel Arango" in Bogotá (Colombia); in the Gran Teatro de La Habana (Cuba, invited by the great ballerina Alicia Alonso); at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at Amerika Haus in Munich (Germany ); and many of her performances for television and radio have been transmitted in those cities.

Mayda Prado has participated with great critical and commercial success in a very long list of festivals most notably The Summer Festival of Greensboro; The Peterloon Summer Festival; The Stanford Festival of the Arts; Brooklyn Arts Festival; Focus Festival and The Liederabend at The Julliard Theater at Lincoln Center; Garden State Summer Festival and the International "Ernesto Lecuona" Festival of Havana. In the latter, besides singing in concert, she participated as a member of the jury in the International Vocal Competition honoring the composer. Also in Cuba she was one of the international judges of the jury in the "Alejandro García Caturla Competition" for voice and piano.

While at the same time she consolidated her career as a performer, Prado received a number of major awards, among which are counted as highlights the "Martha Baird" Medal of the Rockefeller Foundation; a Study Prize awarded by The National Opera Institute in Washington, DC and the George London Foundation; the Liederkranz Foundation; The John Hay Whitney Foundation; The Spanish Institute of New York ( "Lucrezia Bori" Award); The Metropolitan Opera Association Artists Funds; in 1990 the International Vocal Competition "Enrico Caruso" and the Artist Award of the Gran Teatro de La Habana in 1991. Ten years earlier she had participated in the American Opera Auditions program and was selected Finalist by the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Baltimore Opera Auditions. Another achievement was to be honored as Artist in Residence under the auspices of The National Endowment for the Arts, which awarded her the possibility of residency at The Inter American University of Puerto Rico, where she gave a series of Master Classes and concerts on the Caribbean island. Her vocational skills and accumulated merits have made her worthy of being invited to sing during the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.

2002 was very important year and especially sensitive to her when the Italian TV.LA7 journalist Damiano Ficoneri interviewed her at The Juilliard School, in order to integrate her testimony in a series of special programs that were broadcast in Italy to mark the XXV Anniversary of the death of the great Maria Callas. The following year, Mayda Prado was again invited to appear in a documentary filmed by Televisione Italiana (RAI) broadcasted throughout Italy as a tribute to Callas´demise.

Along with her successes as a performer, Prado has always shown interest and sincere vocation for teaching new generations of singers. Her career as a teacher covers Masters Courses, Master Classes, seminars, participation as a judge and lecturer in several competitions in the USA, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, among which it is worth mentioning her lectures in the field of Lyric Diction in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French, as well as Vocal Technique and Interpretation. In this extensive tour she has given her knowledge at N.Y.C.U. Queens College / Aaron Copland Music School NYC, Kean University of New Jersey (USA), as well as offering classes in Vocal Technic and Repertoire in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Perú, Cuba and Mexico. In a dizzying race against time, she has also done translations of opera libretti for Belwin Mills Publishers, New York, which is just another example of her professional breadth of skills.

Fascinated by the great potential of new and good voices found in her travels through Mexico, the singer decided to live during the year in the city of Cuernavaca and impart her knowledge in El Centro Morelense de las Artes, where she was invited to join in 2010. Since then, Ms. Prado has given classes in vocal technique, repertoire, and founded and directs Lyric Diction in five languages, courses given for the first time in a Mexican institution, to a number of students at a university level. As if that were not enough, Master Mayda Prado wrote a manual in each of the languages based on her studies and knowledge acquired during the years as a student at The Juilliard School. One of her intimate experiences with selected young singers and professionals of the Opera de Bellas Artes was mounting complete performances of the opera "Pagliacci" by Leoncavallo, presented in February 2013, where she directed and showed her great skills and artistic knowledge addressing the production of operas.

Moreover, in 2010 she founded and is CEO of the workshop “Estudio para el Bel Canto” where every summer for three weeks welcomes young singers from Mexico and internationally who come to get advice and guidance. She also has been invited to join the jury of the National Singing Competition "Carlo Morelli", held in Mexico City. As part of this important event she created and bestows the “Maria Callas Belcanto Award”, the singer who best interpreted the belcanto repertoire, and in gratitude, heartfelt tribute for the teachings she received by one of the greatest opera singers of all times.

A review of Mayda Prado is listed in the VIII Volume of the first and so far only publication of the Dictionary of Spanish and Latin American Music (Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana) published by the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE) of Spain for her contribution to music.

In March 2014 she taught a course on Italian Lyric Diction at the National School of Music of the UNAM in Mexico City, and on September, Prof. Prado gave birth to FundArt, JCL, A.C., a nonprofit organization for the development and support of young opera singers in Mexico and internationally.

During December 2015, the organization Metamundi of Florence, Italy invited her to return to her homeland and give a series of Master Classes at the National Lyric Opera and the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba.

Dr. José Amer
SGAE, Madrid, España