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Carla Dirlikov: Mezzo-Soprano and Cultural Envoy

The title role in Bizet's Carmen is a dream role for any singer, but was particularly significant for Carla Dirlikov, who first fell in love with the opera at the age of three.

"I was mesmerized. I would watch it for hours," she says. The Mezzo-soprano has now played Carmen in more than 70 performances around the world.

As a teenager Dirlikov had no inkling that such a role would ever be in her future. Until, in her mid-teens, her violin teacher encouraged her to sing her part.  In that moment she realized she had more of a knack for singing notes than playing them.

Raised in the Midwest by a Mexican mother and Bulgarian father who provided a steady diet of classical arts and ethnic foods, Dirlikov says she was never "an average American kid."  There were times her cultural identity made her feel alienated, but it eventually led her to a transcendent awareness. She says being, "...the first born of two immigrants now makes me feel even more of an American."

Dirlikov now serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department tasked with sharing American arts and culture abroad - a role for which her dual ethnicity and arts training make her superbly qualified.

Listen to Dirlikov tell her story on WRTI's Philadelphia Music Makers on December 28th at 5 PM.

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