“Evita,” Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s operatic 1980 musical, and a perennial selection of regional theaters worldwide, makes its Wick Theatre debut this weekend in the high-season slot always reserved for the audience’s top pick. While documenting, in Webber and Rice’s soaring, inimitable style, Argentine figureheads such as Che Guevara and Juan Peron, the linchpin of the show’s success resides with its title character, Eva Peron, second wife of Juan, who would go on to become one of the most beloved figures in the country’s political history.
To fill these giant shoes, the Wick has cast Miami resident Daniella Mass, a soprano coloratura vocalist with an inspiring recent past: The Colombian native was working at a furniture store when she auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” in 2015 at age 22. She stunned the judges with an emotionally skyscraping rendition of—it just so happens—“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”
Mass would make it to the semifinals, and would go on to sing with Andrea Bocelli. We caught up with her during her last week of Wick rehearsals to discuss this pivotal production in her young career.
You specialize in what you call “Liri Pop.” What does this style entail?
“Liri” [refers to] lyrical songs or vocal technique, and “pop” is for popular music and upbeat rhythms. Therefore, “Liri Pop” is simply the fusion of classical lyrical technique with pop music. For example, I wrote a song for my last EP called “Un Paso Mass” that involves a Spanish guitar pop melody with operatic singing that creates a fun yet powerful song that seeks to empower and inspire.
What did you most gain from your experience on “America’s Got Talent?”
My experience on “AGT” really increased my exposure here in the United States. The “AGT” audience is really passionate, and they are so supportive. I love hearing from so many people that my voice has inspired them. I wasn’t used to people stopping me on the street and telling me they saw me on “AGT” and voted for me. The whole experience was amazing, and I really have the most supportive fan base from my performances on “AGT,” and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
What does it mean to you to be cast in “Evita,” especially given that you sang one of Eva’s songs on AGT?
Eva Peron is such a strong female presence in Latin American culture that I’ve always loved singing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” ever since I was a child. I dreamed of playing Eva in the musical, and I even performed the song with my own style and intensity. Cause and effect perhaps? Definitely! I’m completely ready and excited to take on the role!
How do you hope the audience will feel about Eva Peron—how do you hope she comes across through your performance?
I hope to portray her as a very human and relatable person. So often strong and independent women are portrayed as a villains, but I hope to show the audience a side of Eva that most have not experienced, that is a humble woman, a woman who made to sacrifices to achieve power, a woman who fought daily against injustice, a woman who did not want her “shirtless followers” to suffer, a woman who finally experienced love in the last years of her life, and of course, a woman who gave her own life for the people. And from that, I hope they leave feeling compassion for Evita and her story.
You sing in five languages—which is your favorite and why, in a purely musical sense?
Spanish is without a doubt my favorite language to sing in. Yes, it’s my native language, but it’s also because of how comfortable and convenient it is to project vocally. The vowels in Spanish are open, allowing the vocal placement to be naturally clear and with less intensity.
“Evita” runs Jan. 16-Feb. 23 at the Wick, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $75-$95. Call 561/995-2333, or visit thewick.org.