April 2009 rozinlapaz

My heart opens itself to your voice
Like the flowers open
to the kisses of the dawn!

When soprano Loyda Vázquez sang these words from the French opera Samson et Dalila on stage in La Paz earlier this month, she was singing from her heart.

That’s partly because she had been preparing for the concert for a year.FEAsoprano1 And because she is passionate about bringing opera to life through voice and theatre. But what made the event especially heartfelt was that the pianist was her father, David Vázquez Cosío. He now lives in Mexico City. Because of this, father and daughter perform concerts together only once or twice a year.

“I don’t even have to look at him for us to understand one another,” Loyda tells me. She pauses to reflect for a moment, placing her hand on her heart. “He says, ‘Your heart and mine are the same.’ And so, it is a very special experience.”

Loyda Vázquez Lizárraga has been playing music with her father since she was six years old. Now she’s 38. Her dad is 73.

In Guadalajara, where Loyda grew up, there were always musicians in the family home. Singers, violinists, cellists and others came to play with her father. A concert pianist and professor of music at the University of FEAsoprano2Guadalajara, David Vázquez started by teaching his young daughter piano. But Loyda had other plans. “Being a pianist was not for me.” Asked why, Loyda is emphatic: “¡No soy yo, No soy yo! ” — she does not feel truly herself at the keyboard.

Even at the age of six, Loyda knew she wanted to be a singer. “When I sing, I feel as if I am flying.” She stretches out her arms like a paloma and laughs. The laughter is musical. Her sentences have the cadence of a song. But the effect is not theatrical. Loyda’s manner is natural. She simmers with warmth.

Loyda was 10 when she began voice lessons with her father. Singing is her passion: “I believethat when you sing, your soul is exposed.” Perhaps that is why, for her, performances are not without angst.

“Always, I’m nervous before going on stage,” she says. “But then, once I am on stage, I feel fine. For me, it’s a privilege to sing. My voice is a gift, something to share.”

Loyda came to La Paz on a family holiday and fell in love with the city — the Malecón, the beach, the tranquility. She moved here almost five years ago with her husband Gustavo and their son, who is now 11. In addition to performing, she teaches voice and choral work at the state music school.

Loyda’s favourite language for singing is Italian, followed by German — she says that’s because the words flow so freely. She enjoys singing in French, too: “It’s very delicate.” But what about her native language? “I don’t like to sing in Spanish,” she says, because some consonants are hard to sing in a way that’s easily understood. “The diction is very difficult.”

She is a performer who feels passionately that the voice reveals the person within. “I believe that when you sing, your soul is exposed,” she says. “When I sing, I say, ‘This is who I am. Listen to me. This is who I am.’ ”

(originally posted April 2009)