When Maggie Cassidy-Brinn was five, she enrolled in Green River Community College theater camp. When she was six, she got a part in an Auburn production of Oliver. Over the next decade, she performed in so many shows -- The Sound of Music, Scrooge, The Wizard of Oz -- that she can't remember them all. This year, at 14, Cassidy-Brinn has been cast as one of the three genii in The Magic Flute.
I hoped an interview with Maggie might give me some insight into the life of a child prodigy and the making of a diva. It took forever to catch up with her. When I called at our appointed time, 4:30 p.m., her mom had just woken her up from a nap.
You've had a busy schedule. What's it been like?
Not too bad, but recently I've had rehearsal every night. They go pretty late, like to 11:00.
What about school?
My mom called my teachers, so if rehearsal goes really late, I can sleep in for the first two periods.
That's cool. What do your school friends think of your being in the opera?
They think it's cool.
You know Mozart wrote The Magic Flute with lots of Masonic symbolism because he was a mason. They're this secret society, like a cult. So I'm wondering, is being in an opera like being in a cult?
No. Everyone's so open and friendly. They're really nice to my sister or mom when they come. And if you don't know something, someone will help you with it.
What about divas? You know what a diva is, right?
Kinda like a woman who can sing really well? Or like on MTV when they have Whitney Houston or someone big like that? There's nobody at the opera like that. Everyone's just nice and normal. You'll hear someone singing really great, then they sit down next to you and they're talking about the hot doctor on E.R.
No, I think it was some other guy, a guest star.
Do you want to make a career of opera?
I love being in the opera, but I also play piano and draw and write. And I'm a cheerleader for the Junior Varsity squad at school.
In The Magic Flute, you play one of the three angels, right?
We're not angels; we're genii.
Okay. Genii. What do these genii characters do?
They're kind of like wise guardian angels. They instruct the hero.
Do you believe in genii or angels or anything like that?
Not like separate things that fly up to people in boats the way we do in the opera. But I do think there's something out there we have no comprehension of. I think you have to be open to something outside yourself.
How do you prepare to play this part?
I just concentrate and breathe and think about the German words.