Meet the Person Behind The Voice: Mezzo-soprano Na’ama Goldman

By Alan Neilson
(Photo: Janina Laszlo)

The big hit at this year’s Wexford Festival Opera was undoubtedly Marco Tutino’s opera “La Ciociara,” which tells the story of two women’s desperate bid to survive during the turmoil of the allied invasion of Italy. The star of the performance was Israeli mezzo-soprano Na’ama Goldman in the role of Cesira.

Over a coffee, OperaWire quizzed the star about her likes and dislikes in an attempt to get to know the person behind the voice.

OperaWire: What is the next role you will be performing?

Na’ama Goldman: Charlotte in Massenet’s “Werther” at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen.

OW: What attracted you to this role?

NG: I love the music. It is French opera at its best. I also like the way her character changes. At first, she is very well behaved, but then she becomes conflicted because of the love she finds outside her marriage.

OW: What is your favorite opera?

NG: I love “La Bohème,” although this may be because I will never sing it.

OW: What is your favorite piece of music outside of opera?

NG: Mahler’s piano quartet in A minor.

OW: What do you find so special about it? 

NG: I am intrigued by what lies behind the music. What was going on in Mahler’s brain when he wrote it? It is really beautiful. It is both dark and light at the same time.

OW: What is your favorite piece of non-classical music?

NG: I like the young French jazz singer Zaz. She sings a fusion of jazz, world music and French chanson. Also, I love fado.

OW: Who is your favorite painter? 

NG: It is difficult to choose between Mirò and Kandinsky. They are both so distinctive. If forced to choose, I will go for Kandinsky.

OW: Who is your favorite author?  

NG: My favorite book is one of my childhood books, “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

OW: What is so special to you about this book?

I love the character’s independent thinking and how the author encourages it. It also encourages you to use your imagination to see how different your life could be.

OW: What is your favorite film? 

NG: “Fried Green tomatoes.”

OW: What is it about the film that you like? 

NG: It is a film from my teenage years. It is about two independent-minded and strong women who are true to themselves and prevail. I see a theme developing here!

OW: What is your favorite city? 

NG: Tel Aviv.

OW: Is that because you were born close to the city?

NG: No. I always thought when I was growing up that London, Paris and all the other big cities would be better, but the more I travel, the more I appreciate Tel Aviv. There is something very special about Tel Aviv; it is so open; you can be whoever you want to be. There is space for everyone. It is so forward-thinking.

OW: What is your favorite food?

 NG: My mother’s family comes from Uzbekistan, and she and my grandmother used to make me a dish called Plov, and I love it. It is a rice dish with meat and vegetables, but there are many versions. It is quite refined, similar to Persian food.

OW: If you could choose any destination, where would you most like to go on holiday?

NG: Japan.

OW: Why Japan?

NG: I am just very curious to see it.

OW: If you could invite three people to a dinner party, at least one of which has to have a connection with opera, who would they be? 

NG: Rossini, Pauline Viardot and Anne from the book “Anne of Green Gables.”


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