Editor’s note: The Capital City Weekly is featuring two divas a week leading up to Juneau Lyric Opera’s Sept. 24 “Who’s Your Diva” competition and fundraiser.
JLO: What was your first memorable public performance?
MS: In high school I played the role of Katisha in the Mikado. It was memorable because I had to wear the traditional Japanese geta (wooden flip flops/clogs), shoes which made me quite tall. The boy who played Koko was very short and came up to my armpit. Needless to say, everyone had a good laugh when we would enter or act on stage together.
JLO: Who are three singers who have influenced you throughout your singing career?
MS: Opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa because of her beautiful voice (and of course she is a Kiwi); Barbara Streisand for her incredible breath control and range; and my sister Luci Taumoli, whose rich mezzo soprano introduced me to a broad and eclectic range of female singers.
JLO: Who are local performers who inspire you?
MS: John D’Armand. His voice reminds me of my father’s rich bass voice. On and off over the years I have had John as a voice teacher, and his patience and knowledge of the voice has helped me improve and build my confidence. I am also inspired by the voices of so many young people I have had the joy and privilege of working with over the years.
JLO: What are three songs you absolutely love to sing?
MS: First, Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be” because my late friend, Diana Fitisemanu, did the best lip sync of the song. I would be laughing so hard my sides would be aching and tears running down my face as I watched her perform. Second, “Singin’ in the Rain.” I was the musical director for Perseverance Theatre’s STAR program performance of the play this summer. Third, “Minoi, Minoi,” a folk song from Samoa that I learned as a child growing up in New Zealand. It reminds me of home.
JLO: What is your favorite local role or performance?
MS: Under the direction of Anita Maynard-Losh, I was a cigarette girl in JLO’s performance of “Carmen.” I tried to cut Carmen’s face.
JLO: What is your favorite place to sing (besides the stage)?
MS: I love singing in parking garages and stairwells.
JLO: What is a famous movie or theatre role you would love the chance to play?
MS: “Carmen,” because I would like to play the femme fatale.
JLO: What are some of your other interests besides singing?
MS: Coloring, playing with my orchestra students and with Juneau Student Symphony when I can, and international ballroom and Latin American dancing.
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