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Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.

Sound Bites: Yunuet Laguna 

A Mexican soprano sings Mimì in Santiago this summer.
By F. Paul Driscoll

Sound Bites Yunuet Laguna hdl 622
Photographed by Darío Acosta
Hair and makeup by Affan Graber Malik
Sound Bites Laguna sm 622
Soprano Yunuet Laguna, in Saint Louis for Bizet
© Darío Acosta

YUNUET LAGUNA is a proud native of the north-central Mexican city of Zacatecas, which she says has “a face of pink stone and a heart of silver.” Laguna’s full, billowing soprano also has an exciting gleam of silver at its core—a sound ideally suited to the Puccini and Verdi heroines she craves.

A graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Laguna made her Met debut in March, as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and sang her first Micaela in Carmen at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in May. “I feel so lucky for these opportunities,” she says. “My dream was not to be singing at the Met—my dream was to be able to afford a ticket to these theaters!” Laguna fell in love with opera at fifteen, when she heard her first performance of Carmen; she went to Mexico City to study at the Conservatorio Nacional. “In my studies, I learned to be strong with myself. When I heard Carmen, I was thinking, ‘Yes, I will be this Carmen,’ but as I was finishing studies as a mezzo-soprano, I began to have high notes! So I changed to soprano, but I had no repertoire, no scenes or arias, because I had no experience in the higher tessitura.” Nevertheless, Laguna won the inaugural Metropolitan Opera Competition Mexico District auditions. In February 2019, Laguna came to New York to audition for the Lindemann Program and was accepted. 

“When I arrived at the Met, the first month was hard, because I did not have much English. Nice people would say nice things, and I was in a panic, because I did not understand. But your mother tongue should not stop your dreams. If I am to get all the beautiful information the Met has, I need to take my English grammar and learn and practice, practice, practice every moment. I cannot use this lack of English as an excuse for anything—it is my job to fix this if my dreams will happen.” 

Does she have a dream role? “Oh, I love Turandot! I know this is a big role, but I love the power behind her music, and how she is a woman who is open for love and changed by love. The phrases she sings are so special, and so difficult. But I love the difficult things! My dreams are all the difficult roles—Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Aida. These are so beautiful—the emotion, the music, the characters. To see these roles in the distance is a big motivation for me!” spacer 

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