She is an unknown actress from Buenos Aires who, at 21, was born 30 years after the original Broadway production of West Side Story. But Josefina Scaglione’s velvety, opera-trained voice landed her the lead role of Maria in the bilingual remake of the modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale, set to open in New York in March in one of the most anticipated Broadway productions this spring.
Scaglione, known in Argentinean artistic circles for a poise and maturity far beyond her years, came to the attention of West Side Story’s librettist, Arthur Laurents, through her Internet video recording of Libertango. The video showcases the angelic-faced beauty’s broad vocal range in an operatic and purely melodic rendition of the Astor Piazzolla composition, with no lyrics. It was enough to impress the veteran director, who summoned Scaglione to New York for a formal audition.
“[Leonard] Bernstein’s music is the best score ever written for a musical,” Laurents told AARP Segunda Juventud. “You need a trained operatic voice to sing it.”
Scaglione, says Laurents, had everything going for her: the training, the looks, the voice, the talent, and the passion. “When what you are comes out, it has to be real,” says Laurents. “You hear the difference, especially when you have an educated ear.”
Despite her youth, Scaglione is a seasoned stage veteran who has appeared in Argentinean productions of Cinderella, Annie, Fame, and, most recently, Hairspray. In addition, her operatic career has allowed her to perform as a soloist in Argentina’s major concert halls.