The soprano: Goyne rides her voice to Italy

Christina Goyne is not your average high school senior.

At sixteen, she's a year younger than most of her classmates at Monticello High School. (She skipped sixth grade.) And last summer, she was one of the youngest members ever to sing with the Operafestival di Roma.

Goyne triumphed over the 300-plus mostly college-aged singers who applied for a spot in the Operafestival, landing the coveted lead role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. Getting to sing at a professional level is quite an achievement, but success at such a young age doesn't seem to faze Goyne.

"She's so humble. She'll wonder why you want to talk to her," says Morgan Daleo, who wrote Goyne's most recent star vehicle, a musical based on St. Francis of Assisi staged earlier this month at St. Paul's Memorial Church.

Indeed, Goyne giggles when a reporter suggests that she may be an "amazingly gifted" singer. But she can't deny the evidence: as the defending champion of the Mid-Atlantic National Association of Teachers of Singers Vocal Competition, Goyne is firmly ensconced as the state's premier soprano.

"She has a very particular, very interesting timbre," says Louisa Panou, founder and director of Operafestival. Not only that, "She's very beautiful on stage. She has a wonderful stage presence."

That's good news for Goyne, who enjoys having opera as an extracurricular activity.

"I really love it, almost obsessively," says Goyne. "This summer confirmed that for me, that it was exactly what I wanted to do." Six weeks in Italy is a pretty good perk for a talented young singer, and it seems Goyne recognizes the gift of the experience itself. While she spent a month as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Goyne was happy upstage too. The two weeks she spent as a member of the chorus in Don Giovanni in Verona were her favorite part of the trip.

While she keeps busy with auditions, rehearsals, and voice and piano lessons, more typical teen activities are still part of Goyne's life. "I like to hang out with my friends in my free time, when I have it," she says.

And like all high school seniors, she's looking to the future. "My dream school is Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia," Goyne said, but she's also considering colleges as disparate as Hollins and Johns Hopkins. Wherever she ends up, Goyne plans to major in vocal performance.