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Leading with Opera Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, and German


Even though opera singer Ann McMahon Quintero’s father is from El Salvador, growing up in the States, her family didn’t speak Spanish. She decided to learn the language as a teenager because she thought it would be useful to communicate with her family and she wanted to better connect with her heritage.

With her Spanish and French skills well underway, she is now focusing on learning Italian and German because the operas in these languages suit her dramatic mezzo soprano voice. Being able to navigate and interact in multiple world languages has given her the opportunity to work in Belgium for several years, and she has performed in major cities across the globe, like Hong Kong.

While it can be challenging to sometimes sing Italian operas as a language learner in front of entirely Italian casts, Ann recognizes that the native speakers hold her to such high standards because they take great pride in their music and culture. She credits her language skills for helping her to maintain the integrity—the natural cadence, flow, and tone—of whatever language she is working in, which helps her understand the context and emotions each opera presents.  

Are you ready to take your language skills to the stage?

Check out our pages dedicated to Spanish, French, Italian, and German for information on university programs, scholarships, and other stories. You can also read more about Ann on her website here.