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At first sight, Alma Deutscher, a twelve-year-old girl from England with a penchant for dresses, appears to be like any other typical tween. She loves to skip rope, read, bake cookies, and engage in make-believe play with her younger sister Helen. But this unassuming youngster, who composed her first musical sonata at age six, first short opera at age seven, and first full-length opera based on Cinderella at age ten, is anything but average. Though her parents downplay her extraordinary talent as “imaginative, just a child playing,” young Alma is being hailed as “little Mozart” by the music world.
Alma’s operatic take on the classic fairy tale, which she began writing at age eight, has a slight twist. Her Cinderella is a composer who meets her Prince Charming through a melody. “I thought it was a little bit silly that Cinderella was found by a shoe, why a shoe?” She said. “In my Cinderella, she sings the beginning of a ballad — but at midnight she flees. Eventually, the prince finds her after asking all the maidens of the land to sing the end of the ballad.”
The opera’s debut performance at the Casino Baumgarten Theater in Vienna, Austria on December 29, 2016, where the 11-year-old deftly switched between the piano and the violin, received rave reviews. The young prodigy has since premiered a new piano concerto at the Carinthian Summer Festival in Austria and played her inaugural concert in China.
Starting December 16, 2017, she will perform Cinderella alongside 44 orchestra musicians to sold-out performances at the California Theater in San Jose, California. In January, the twelve-year-old will conduct a shorter version of the opera for kids in Vienna, before heading to the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France and the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. While this may appear to be a lot for someone so young, Alma is not fazed. She says, “Of course I have to work hard. But all children have to work hard for exams, and at least when I work hard, I work hard for something incredibly exciting, like seeing my whole opera put on stage.”
When not on tour, Alma, who is homeschooled, has a surprisingly normal life. The young girl spends her mornings composing or practicing her music. After lunch, she takes a break to jump rope (which helps her creative process), read, or play make-believe with Helen. Then come some traditional math or history lessons from her mother, a former professor, followed by dinner, bath, and bedtime at 8:30 pm. In case you are wondering, Alma does not have a mobile phone, nor does her house have any televisions! But the young girl does not mind, saying, “I don’t watch television at all — it is much more interesting to read a book and imagine how the story would be.”
Alma’s musical talent first came came to light when she was just twenty months old. Her parents remember the toddler humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before she could speak. “She sang something like ‘shashi shashi shashi sha’ – but the notes were pitch perfect,” Mr. Deutscher recalls.
Though she had composed her first piece by age four and mastered the violin by age seven, the young girl’s abilities only gained international attention in 2012, after a family friend posted a tweet comparing her to Mozart. The family was suddenly inundated with media requests and Alma became an overnight sensation and dubbed “little Mozart” or child prodigy. Both monikers that make her parents unhappy because they believe it puts added pressure on the young girl. They would instead prefer her to be called “a composer and musician.”
Alma does not want to be compared to the famous artist either, saying, “There was only one Mozart, and I prefer to be little Alma than to be the second Mozart.” Regardless of what she calls herself, the twelve-year-old is changing the world of music forever!
Resources: Wikipedia.org, telegraph.co.uk,