Ángela Peralta

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Dorktales Podcast: Episode 33

Hidden Heroes of History

Ángela Peralta

¡La historia del ruiseñor mexicano! Beloved for her remarkable Bel Canto singing style, Ángela Peralta became known the world over as “The Mexican Nightingale.” She made her debut at the young age of 15, rising in demand to appear at leading opera houses throughout Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Egypt and the United States. Beyond singing, Ms. Peralta also wrote and composed her own music and boldly started her own opera company. Like the audiences who loved her, we stand up and cheer “¡Bravo, Ángela Peralta, Bravo!”

Creatives Behind This Episode

Jonathan Cormur voiceover
Jonathan Cormur

Voiceover/Narrator

Molly Murphy

Writer

Jermaine Hamilton

Audio Engineer

Arthur Lin

Illustrator

Additional Credits for this episode:

  • Consultation on written and spoken Spanish: Ana Cantorán
  • Music Credit: Romeo et Juliette, Juliette Waltz (Gounod) by MIT Symphony Orchestra

Did You Know?

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Ángela Peralta was an opera singer, composer, harpist, and pianist who was called “The Mexican Nightingale” by the audiences who adored her from around the world.

She was born in Mexico City on July 5, 1845. At a very young age, she showed a profound talent for singing and was first heard in public at the age of 8.

She went on to study music at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música and, at 15, made her opera debut at the Teatro Nacional, or National Theater of Mexico City.

An opera is a story told entirely through music. Unlike a musical which has songs interwoven throughout a script of dialogue, an opera uses a libretto and all of the performers sing the narrative.    Some of the singers sing really high notes and some sing in lower registers. Ángela Peralta was what music-makers call a Soprano, which meant she could hit the highest of notes.

A year after making her debut, Ms. Peralta went to study singing in Italy. On May 13, 1862, she made her European debut at La Scala in Milan, Italy. La Scala is a renowned theater where many of the finest singers from around the globe have performed. Today, it’s regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theaters in the world.

After La Scala, Ms. Peralta’s career took off! She performed in opera houses all over the world—in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Madrid, Barcelona, St. Petersburg, Alexandria, Cairo, Havana, and New York City.

One highlight of her tour was singing before King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, where she received 32 curtain calls. She was very beloved!

A curtain call is when an audience applauds after a performance and the performers come out to take a bow. When the audience keeps cheering, the performers keep returning to the stage to acknowledge the audience. 

Ms. Peralta was a very versatile performer, known for singing in the Bel Canto—or “beautiful singing”—style popularized in Italy. It is a form of singing that emphasizes the beauty of sound, rather than dramatic performance.

In addition to singing, Ms. Peralta began her own opera company in Mexico in 1871. During its tenure, she performed many of the leading roles. She was an accomplished harpist and pianist who composed numerous romantic pieces in the popular music styles of the 1800’s.

Her legacy is preserved in an opera house named in her honor: the Ángela Peralta Theater, located in the coastal Mexican city of Mazatlán.

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