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Opera Diva Strips Away Mystique in Show

Opera Diva Strips Away Mystique in Cheeky Behind-the-Scenes Show

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Julia Avignon


Opera Diva Strips Away Mystique in Cheeky Behind-the-Scenes Show

American soprano Julia Migenes takes a cheeky peek behind the scenes of the international opera world in her one-woman show Diva on the Verge in Auckland in August for one night only.

THE EDGE presents Julia Migenes in Diva on the Verge at the Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE, on Friday 3 August as the inaugural show in THE EDGE International Arts Season 2007.

Revelling in both the beauty and absurdity of one of the West’s most highly evolved and highly acclaimed genres of performance, Diva on the Verge provides an uproariously funny and intimate behind-the-scenes tour of international opera.

Julia Migenes guides the audience through the arcane mysteries of the diva’s art with arch monologues and anecdotes, interspersed with some of the greatest arias in the repertoire.

“Usually by the end of the evening there have been enough laughs that the audience feels ready to go to the opera,” says Julia of her show.

Born on the Lower East Side of New York into a family made up of a passionate mixture of Greek and Irish-Puerto Rican descent, Julia had her first role as a child in Madame Butterfly where she experienced the power and the emotion of music linked to a stage setting.

She began her Broadway career playing Hodel in the original cast of Fiddler on The Roof, sang Berg’s Lulu at the Met, Tosca in London, Bernstein’s Maria in New York and Salome in Puerto Rico … and was on the road to a glittering career.

She won a Grammy Award for her portrayal of Carmen in Francesco Rosi’s hugely successful film, which also starred opera tenor Placido Domingo, and the greatest theatres in the world opened the doors for her... but Julia was bored.

One evening, by accident she happened to glance at her watch while singing a sustained top C at a gala evening – the audience laughed and loved the naturalness of her performance.

She wrote her one-woman show Diva on the Verge, mingling monologue and opera, often mocking its rigid world and revealing her daring wit and sense of humour. The show has toured throughout Europe and in the US and now Julia brings her sparkle to New Zealand.

Julia Migenes performs Diva on the Verge at the Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland on Friday 3 August. She also performs her show as part of the Christchurch and Taranaki arts festivals. Tickets are available from Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK or

THE EDGE International Arts Season 2007 includes the Royal Shakespeare Company’s seasons of King Lear and The Seagull, Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

“Ms Migenes is a cross-over artiste of overwhelming style and accomplishment…” The Financial Times



Julia Migenes | Diva on the Verge – Los Angeles, USA

Julia Migenes was born on the Lower East Side of New York into a family made up of a passionate mixture of Greek and Irish-Puerto Rican descent. Despite a difficult and violent childhood, she discovered her calling upon engagement of the child role in Madame Butterfly where she first experienced the power and the emotion of music linked to a stage setting.

A few years later, while studying at the New York School for Performing Arts, she was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to be a soloist in his “Young People’s Concerts”. Julia then began her Broadway career: she was part of the original casting of Fiddler on the Roof (playing Hodel) with Zero Mostel and she interpreted Maria in West Side Story.

However, she understood that her real calling was to sing, leading her to a cover contract at the New York Metropolitan Opera. While substituting for the leading role of Alban Berg’s, renowned for its technical difficulty, she was cheered and acclaimed by the public, launching her opera career.

Word of this new star crossed the Atlantic where Maurice Béjart was desperately searching for his Salomé to be staged in Geneva. Julia Migenes embodied the ideal combination for this role: a world-class opera singer and a graceful dancer.

While on stage in Geneva as Salomé, the Italian film director Francesco Rosi was casting for Carmen. The lead role required not only an opera singer and dancer but also an actress sensual enough to personify the burning passion of Bizet’s character.

The result was Julia Migenes immortalised in a motion picture that has since become a reference in the filmed opera genre. The soundtrack not only brought her a Grammy Award but even more worldwide notoriety that allowed her to access the greatest theatres in the world.

To this day, Julia Migenes has recorded more than 20 albums. Among the most recent: “Vienna” conducted by Lalo Schifrin, which went Gold six months after its release; in 1996, “Man of la Mancha” (“L’homme de la Mancha”), conducted and arranged by Paul Gemignani, with Placido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Mandy Patinkin; in 1999, “Robert Stolz” and “The music of Franz Lehar” for BBC and in 2000, Donizetti’s “Catarina Cornaro”.

In 1998, Julia Migenes wrote Diva on the Verge, a one-woman-show mingling monologue and opera often mocking its rigid world, revealing her daring wit and sense of humour. In 1999, she performed this show in French in Paris and throughout France and French-speaking countries. She is preparing a Spanish version of this show for a tour in Spain and South America.

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