In the beginning, there was Miriam, a musically talented youngster whose family had recently moved from Palermo (the capital of Sicily) to Las Vegas. That’s Miriam on the right, with Marina on the left and Ginger in the middle. All pretty good singers, it would turn out, but Miriam, the youngest, held the most promise, early-on, and started begging for voice lessons.
Eventually, their mom realized that Miriam could benefit from some advanced training, and sent her back to Palermo, which boasts a splendid music conservatory. The sisters went along, and it turned out that Ginger and Marina also had exceptional talent. Soon all three sisters were winning competitions. Ginger has the deepest voice (mezzo-soprano) and a natural gift for comedy. Marina is a true lyric soprano whose roles often involve tragic death onstage (Tosca, Violetta, etc.). And Miriam is that rare bird, a coloratura who sings dazzling arias (Mozart’s Queen of the Night).
Ginger entered the Metropolitan Opera’s young artist program in 2007 and hasn’t looked back. She’s performed several times in Seattle (Così, Carmen, Cinderella) to great acclaim and returns next year as Musetta in La Bohème. Marina teamed up with Ginger in Cosî, and just wound up a run as Mimi in the LA Opera production of La Bohème. Miriam, meantime, had come to Seattle for the role of one of the wicked step-sisters in Cinderella.
Confluence of the stars. Doesn’t happen often in the world of grand opera, where casting is done at least two seasons ahead. And yet, here they were, all three sisters on the same coast at the same time. Could they maybe, pretty-please, sing a concert together?
Only once before has it worked out: Sun Valley, Idaho, in January of 2018. Until last night in Seattle. The Costa Jacksons, accompanied by pianist John Keene (Seattle Opera’s chorusmaster), sang arias and duets from a dozen operas, then transitioned to Broadway show tunes and finally Neapolitan street songs. Yes, including O sole mio. Their encore was nothing less than “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, which also provided the thrilling conclusion to The Three Tenors concert. Brought down the house.
Watching proudly from her seat in the 5th row was mom, Mamma Emilia. Brava, bravissima to all!