South Bronx native details her journey to becoming an opera star

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Linda Collazo, a South Bronx native, is an opera singer who has sang on many of the country’s most prestigious stages.
Photo courtesy Gloria Mendez for Linda Collazo

In a borough known worldwide for its contributions to music, many may not know that the South Bronx has its very own young rising opera star.

Linda Collazo, a 28-year-old mezzo-soprano vocalist, is making a name for herself in the hypercompetitive field with performances across the country and around the world, including an upcoming lead role in Orlando and an April 5 date performance date at Carnegie Hall.

As Collazo caught up with the Bronx Times between travels for rehearsals in New York and Orlando, she reflected on how lucky she feels to have such a strong start to her career.

“I’m very fortunate to have started working so young,” Collazo said. 

Opera is a notoriously difficult profession to break into — Collazo recently auditioned for a competition in Paris that had more than 1,000 applicants, and only around 100 were even invited to audition.

Looking back, Collazo said she was always the creative type, both in visual art and music, but she didn’t fully commit to opera until college. She originally wanted to be a pianist but felt overwhelmed in the most advanced piano classes at LaGuardia High School, but vocal training in the operatic style was required at the school.. 

“I just happened to be naturally good at that,” she said.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from Queens College in 2018, Collazo’s career quickly got up and running. Her resume lists numerous operatic roles and solo performances throughout New York, across the country and in Italy. Collazo’s current year-long contract with Opera Orlando is her longest so far. 

“They’ve given me a lot of roles,” she said. 

Collazo explained that it is common for young opera singers — at least the lucky ones — to work with established opera companies and learn small parts but also understudy for some main roles. The understudy takes over if the main singer becomes ill or otherwise unable to perform.

In May with Opera Orlando, Collazo will have her biggest part to date. She will sing a lead role in “The Juniper Tree,” a contemporary opera by the minimalist composer Philip Glass, based on a Grimm fairytale. 

Like many Grimm tales, the story of “The Juniper Tree” is dark and twisted. Collazo plays an envious stepmother who goes crazy and murders her stepson and feeds him in a soup to her husband. But eventually, karma comes back for the evil stepmother.

Besides playing such a heinous character, the music itself is difficult, Collazo said, and “not easy to ingest.” But the role is a huge opportunity for Collazo to challenge herself and show off her talent in a major way.

For the April 5 performance at Carnegie Hall, Collazo will perform as a “transitional singer” while large choral ensembles make their way off stage — another prime opportunity that adds up to about 30 minutes of solo repertoire, she said. 

“I’m basically singing a recital,” said Collazo. “I’m being hired to create my own program.”

She plans to sing some well-known operatic arias — including one from the splashy “Carmen” by Georges Bizet — but she put a personal touch on the program by including a piece by contemporary Black woman composer B. E. Boykin, as well as repertoire in Spanish.

While Collazo’s career has taken her all over the country, she loves to bring it back home to the Bronx. Most of her New York performances tend to be in Manhattan or the suburbs, and as for work within the Bronx, “I’m interested in doing more,” she said. 

Collazo previously enjoyed working with the Bronx Arts Ensemble and hopes to work with them again. She also keeps it local by teaching vocal and piano lessons (sometimes on Zoom) and has a May performance at Father Gigante Plaza.  

“I love to give back as much as I can,” said Collazo. 

Keep up with Collazo and her upcoming performances at her website or on Instagram @lindaritza.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes