Natalia Johnson fell in love with opera when she was 7 years old.
Her grandmother took her to see her first opera. She tugged on her grandmother’s sleeve and asked where the microphones were, as she couldn’t understand how she could hear the performers without them. She was shocked when her grandmother told her that they didn’t need microphones — that they only used their voices.
“I was stunned — I couldn’t believe the human voice was capable of doing that,” Johnson said.
From then on, she knew she wanted to pursue singing. At age 14, she started private singing lessons and continued until she graduated from Inglemoor High School.
Johnson completed her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Western Washington University in 2016. She is finishing her master’s degree at New York University in Classical Voice and Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy.
Throughout her singing career, Johnson has been seen as Marcellina in “Le nozze di Figaro” with New York Lyric Opera Theater; Mother Mathilda “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and Sally “A Hand of Bridge” with NYU; Susanna Walcott “The Crucible” with the Miami Music Festival; and has been in the chorus of various operas such as “Aida,” “Die Fledermaus,” “The Magic Flute,” and “Cosí fan tutte” with Pacific Northwest Opera, Miami Music Festival and Western Washington University.
For Johnson, singing means much more than just performing. She said singing is communication.
“One of the things I love about singing and opera is that singing really is like communication. You’re able to communicate beyond normal means…sometimes words just aren’t enough,” she said. “It’s really a display of art. Opera is able to tell a story and make the audience experience emotions through music, movement and language — it all comes together to tell a story.”
Aside from aspiring to being a professional opera singer, Johnson also strives to become a voice teacher.
“I absolutely love teaching. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my teachers who not only taught me what I know but also supported me through everything,” she said.
Now home for the holidays, Johnson will be holding a benefit concert at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Kenmore at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4.
“I really wanted to do something that could do some good. While I’m not financially able to donate money, I can donate my time,” she said. “It’ll also be a chance for a lot of my family and friends to see me perform.”