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East County Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 2 months ago

East County soprano heads toward the world of professional opera.

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Natalie Almeter has bright future.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Simply said, East County's Natalie Almeter believes in herself.

If she were singing karaoke, that might not be a big deal. But Almeter, 23, is embarking on a journey that she is hoping leads to a successful career in professional opera.

The belief part comes into play because Almeter will be auditioning for a multitude of roles, and she knows not all of those outcomes will be favorable.

"You need to have a good self-image and be very confident in yourself," said Almeter, who is on target to earn her vocal performance bachelors degree in December from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "You go through a lot of trials, a lot of auditions, and you might not get (the parts). You still have to believe in yourself and know it is definitely possible."

One of her recent auditions led Almeter to earning a spot at Musiktheater Bavaria, a month-long program in Oberaudorf, Germany that ran June 29 through July 28.

Natalie Almeter

"Every single day I will be having voice lessons, coaching, acting lessons and German language classes," she said. "Germany is one of the best places to be for an opera singer. Opera singers there are well paid and stable. It will be good to get that experience and come back."

Once she finishes her bachelor's degree at UCF, she will begin planning her next step.

"Most (professional opera singers) work their way up through the ranks in the choruses," she said. "That works well for your body because with some opera roles, you have to sing so intensely with some emotion. You have to be able to convey that and not hurt yourself. You need to strengthen yourself for those roles."

Beverley Rinaldi, an adjunct vocal faculty member at UCF and a retired professor emeritus of the Cleveland Institute of Music, is Almeter's voice coach and she has faith her student can succeed in any form of music she pursues.

"She has a great blessing, given to her by God, that she is in the top 5% of those who sing," Rinaldi said. "This young lady is extremely talented and she definitely has the voice for an operatic career. She has a lot of charisma and she is a wonderful musician."

When Rinaldi is talking about Rinaldi being a musician, she means her voice. "Your voice is an instrument," Rinaldi said. "And it's the only one you can take in the shower."

Almeter, a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High, understands she has to take care of her voice.

"It can be difficult to pursue a career in opera because everything depends on you and your body," Almeter said. "You have to take care of yourself. It's about air and how you use it to fill your body cavity. If you are tired, you won't be able to sing those high notes. My teachers have told me I need to gain 10 pounds. You need to have energy more than anything. You need good stamina and good breathing.

"Your voice does mature and grows richer."

Almeter started her singing career in the Sarasota Youth Opera in the chorus of "Carmen" in 2012. She also has performed in the Sarasota Opera's "Marriage of Figaro" in 2015.

"I know I have a good support system in Sarasota," she said.

While performing in Sarasota is attractive to her, she said she will pursue opportunities wherever they might be.

"Most large cities have an opera house, more than people would know," she said. "You just start auditioning and see what you can get. I do have connections in Sarasota and the directors know who I am, so that might help. But it all depends on how people like your voice, how you act, and the way you are prepared. If you're not a nice person, some companies won't hire you ... and some will."

Eventually, she would love an opportunity to perform in Europe.

"A lot of people dream of singing at the Metropolitan Opera House (in New York)," she said. "I'm attracted to old art forms. I would love to sing in houses where some of the first performances happened in Europe. I love the gilt architecture, it's so beautiful. I am blown away by the craftsmanship.

"And you can walk into a shop in Italy where they have made paper for 100 years and they are so proud of what they create. In America, it's never good enough."

She said the idea of singing in opera houses that are 1,800 years ago excites her.

"I love the history of it, the sets, the costumes," she said. "It's like being in a time traveling machine."

Although she would like to be "comfortable," she doesn't want to live a life where she can't go outside without being recognized. She feels terrible for those who have that life.

She became interested in singing when her parents, Nanette and Timothy Almeter, played "Phantom of the Opera" for her when she was little. Her interest led her to develop her talents.

Now she is a soprano, who can hit those high notes.

Natalie Almeter had her start in the Sarasota Youth Opera. Here she plays Flip in "Little Nemo, Adventures in Slumberland."

"When I laugh, I laugh so high I can't hear it," she said. "It's like a dog whistle or something, a tiny, squeaky scream, but it's big and full."

While she is a talented singer, she doesn't see herself performing in other genres.

"I used to love listening to the radio," she said. "Now I really like to listen to people who sing in different languages, Korean, Japanese, rather than English. It's much more fun."

Performing, for her, is fun as well, and she has advice for those who want to see if they can make it with their voice.

"I would say. don't ever be afraid," she said. "If people like to hear you sing, then do it for them. Sing in your church, where people will love to hear you because it's a great way to get over stage fright. It will be scary for a while, but it gets easier. Believe in yourself because people only want you to do well. Give them what you've got. If they say mean things, that's their problem.

"It just takes practice, and confidence."

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