By Bonnie Smith ‘12
“You never know what’s going to happen from one show to the next,” says mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak.
A 1990 graduate of Geneva College, Maria spends her time performing on stage with the Metropolitan Opera, Central City Opera and Atlanta Opera, to name a few.
Maria has been involved in music since her middle school choir and started participating in musical theater in high school. From there, she went on to Geneva College.
“I wanted a smaller school, and I was interested that they had a music business program,” she says.
She immediately got involved in as many musical opportunities as she could. When she began taking private voice lessons from Geneva music faculty member Louise Copeland, Copeland recognized her gift right away.
“She had an amazing, naturally beautiful voice,” she says. “Those of us who worked with her knew that she had a rare and wonderful God-given talent. I have vivid memories of Maria in various programs on the Geneva stage — as Cinderella; as Mother Superior, bringing down the house with ‘Climb Every Mountain’; as a recitalist; and as a soloist with the Genevans and the Geneva College Jazz Band.”
Maria has held numerous roles since her days on the Geneva stage — from Suzuki in Madame Butterfly to Effie Bell Tate in Cold Sassy Tree — and she says she cannot pick a favorite.
“The roles are all so different, and I enjoy each one for different reasons.”
Life in show business isn’t easy, and Maria says that for her, the hardest part is maintaining a sense of self. “You have to work to not get sucked into all the negativity out there, but it is like that for any profession.”
Balancing her demanding work schedule is also a challenge. “It takes planning. With my job, there is a lot of travel, uprooting from the familiar and staying in new places. I try to take advantage of all the different places to sightsee, and in between shows, I use the free time to visit family, re-plan and organize things and prepare.”
Despite all its challenges, Maria sincerely enjoys her chosen path. And whether she’s performing, practicing or on the road, she says that her Geneva education continues to shape the way she views her work and her interactions every day.
Geneva students have the opportunity each summer to attend Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies to develop practical methods of caring for the environment.