Magic & Mayhem Artist Interviews: Lydia Dahling

Lydia Dahling Headshot.jpg

Get to know the cast of Magic & Mayhem!

Lydia Dahling, soprano, will be performing a Hungarian Mad Scene from Bánk bán by Ferenc Erkel. Buy your tickets today! 

How does Melinda’s Mad Scene in Bánk bán fit into the “Magic and Mayhem” theme?

Mayhem is an inherent part of mad scenes, and this scene is no exception. After being drugged and raped, Melinda goes mad and deliberately drowns herself in a river. What’s unique about this mad scene is that Melinda is fully aware of what she is about to do. She actually becomes more lucid throughout the scene.

Why did you choose this piece?

I spent 2 weeks in Hungary this summer and chose this piece because of its cultural significance. Bánk bán is one of the most performed operas in Hungary. Every Hungarian I met has seen Bánk bán, but is rarely performed anywhere else. It has been the opening production of the Hungarian State Opera every season since the mid-1860s! In many ways, it is the Hungarian cultural equivalent of West Side Story in that both take on political and social themes, use musical idioms directly related to the subject matter (Erkel's folk music influence, Bernstein using Latin inspired rhythms), and are well known by most of the population, if only by name. Bánk bán was written during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so it isn't a surprise that this opera is heavily about maintaining Hungarian identity in the face of foreign rule. The themes in this opera are highly nationalistic The aria "Házám, házám" ("My homeland, my homeland") is considered the "second national anthem" of Hungary (Erkel wrote the official Hungarian national anthem too!). Plus, it's just a damn good score.

Why is it important this music be heard?

I think that we can use repertoire from the past to examine our own world, look at what has changed, what hasn't changed, and try to find out why. In Bánk bán, Melinda deals with Otto trying to get her to sleep with him, and even after she turns him down multiple times with explanations she has to invent because he just. doesn't. get. it. He feels entitled to her because he's a powerful man, a celebrity in some ways. Sound familiar?

Describe your dream role.

I'd love to be involved in Angels in America at some point in my career!

If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?

A historian!

Tell us something unusual about your hometown.

There are probably more people in Penn Station at any given moment than have ever been in my hometown.

What’s on your schedule after Magic and Mayhem?

I'm singing Proserpina in L'Euridice with Cantanti in February!

What's one song on your playlist you can't help but dance to?

"Dancing Queen" by Abba!

Please visit Lydia's website at