Friday Feature: Daniela Mack


Daniela Mack, mezzo-soprano

Tell us a little about yourself — where do you come from and what do you do here at The Atlanta Opera?

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to Houston, TX when I was six, and I now live in Valdosta, GA. I’m a mezzo-soprano and one of The Atlanta Opera Company Players.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There are no typical days! We live in an atypical time. But I have found a routine that can provide a sense of normalcy. This year, I’ve had much more time at home, for obvious reasons! But still, it’s been a very busy time. We have a 5-year-old in virtual kindergarten, so most of my days are structured around her schooling. My husband and I trade off school duties while the other works/practices/teaches lessons online. Our professional activities may have adapted to the pandemic, but they haven’t stopped— much of what we do now is rehearsed/performed/created from home. And of course, we also make time for playtime and movie night! When I rehearsed the production in Atlanta, and then performed at the Big Tent, it felt like a break from the routine, but also a return to the way things used to be!

What was your most memorable moment from The Big Tent fall season? Where there any particular highlights or challenges? 

The experience of performing live again after so many months of the shutdown is something I will never forget. One of the most memorable moments in the Big Tent for me was the Mezzo Extravaganza concert. It was just the four company mezzos safely making music together, singing songs that we loved and that had special meaning for us. Perhaps the most invigorating thing was feeling the connection with each other and interacting with a beautifully receptive and appreciative live audience. The inherent challenge was being physically distant at all times. The kind of art we are all used to making as operatic performers is so personal and intimate that finding a way to authentically link with each other through plastic and masks was tricky at first. I’m so thankful that we were able to succeed safely!

How have you been keeping sane during the pandemic? Any new skills or hobbies?

I really haven’t had time to adopt a new hobby! This pandemic has not been a period of inactivity— quite the opposite. So there are many crafty things on my list I have yet to learn! I do love to bake, so I have welcomed extra time in my own kitchen to try out new recipes! As for staying sane, the usual itinerant life of a singer can make finding emotional and mental balance tricky. When you factor in the difficult and painful times we are living through, finding that calm has become even more vital. I know in my case, spending so much time with my family has kept me grounded over the past months. And living as present as possible, moment to moment, as opposed to worrying too much about what the future looks like, has kept me going.

What has it been like making art during this time? What would you say to young artists out there about navigating it all?

I feel incredibly grateful to be making art during this time. It’s not lost on me what an immense privilege it is to be a part of this team of creatives and innovators. I am hopeful that if we all as a community do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe, more opportunities to come together and create will arise. I do realize how hard it is, particularly for young artists trying to start careers at this moment. I’m a huge advocate for patience in every aspect of life. I don’t believe one can rush creativity or force anything to manifest before its time. It was very difficult for me and most of my colleagues to make art at the beginning of this pandemic in the absence of work— it was simply too painful. The toll that this crisis has taken on us as a society has been huge and everyone is rightfully exhausted. Now we have a clearer idea of our landscape, and we know what we need to adjust in order to move forward. For most of us, our art cannot be the only financial leg we stand on, but it doesn’t mean we cannot create. I’m consistently inspired by new ideas I see come to fruition and collaborations resulting in innovative projects. Our art form is changing and expanding, in many ways for the better. I would encourage any young artist to embrace the change and reach out to other creators as much as possible. Everyone is longing for meaningful connection right now, people are hungry for the fulfillment that art brings, and no idea is too small. And perhaps most importantly, if you’re still not ready, be patient with yourself because that’s perfectly ok and valid, too.