When did it become serious and why opera?

As a child and teenager I  competed in song festivals and did quite well, I was also singing in two choirs at that time, had regular voice, piano and music theory lessons not to mention regular instruction in classical ballet. It was clear that I had a natural talent for singing and it was at that point that I asked myself why not do something that is fun and that I enjoy  as a  job and career. 
 
The opera end of it came into play one day as a suggestion from my mother.  You see, we had season tickets at the opera and before that I went quite regularily to the theater.  My parents were big supporters of the arts and I had already seen my first play at age six 'Twelth Knight' by Shakespeare, I  will never forget it, I was mesmorized by the world of the theatre! It was magical!
 
I  saw a lot of live theatre as a child.  I saw not only many theatre plays but also many live dance companies like Alvin Ailey, the Kiev ballet etc..I also saw a lot of chamber music concerts and saw my first opera when I was nine years old 'Rigoletto'.  I will never forget that performance, seeing some slightly over plump man singing 'la donna é mobile' in the shower!
 
From all my exposure to the theatre I really had wanted to become an actress.  My mother saw that the singing talent was quite natural and as I had a knack for theatre and performing why not combine my passion for acting with singing and that is how it all started, my journey to becoming an opera singer was born!