Operosa Festival 2017 interviews: Ashley Dean, Eraldo Salmieri and soloists

operosa festival

Last week Montenegro welcomed the Operosa Festival for the 4th time in Montenegro. This time the organizers presented opera “Iolanta” by P.I. Tchaikovsky.

Operosa is a place where experienced professionalism intersects with young hunger for professionalism in the art of opera, learning, new life and work experiences.

Every year the Operosa festival goes a step further, introducing new talent while remaining loyal to the location – Montenegro – an emerging area for opera and performances.

operosa festival

Putting acting and music together

We had a chance to talk to the stage director Ashley, the conductor Eraldo and the soloists of the opera and would like to reveal more to you about their personalities and the event itself.

Ashley Dean, the stage director, participated for the first time in the Operosa Festival. Ashley Dean trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He has created productions for a variety of companies and groups.

He regularly works with young singers in music conservatories and young artist programs in the UK and abroad including the Royal College of Music, Oslo National Academy of the Arts and the Royal Danish Opera Academy. He has led workshops for British Youth Opera and the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House, London.

Listen to his interview about what a stage director is and the process of working on the Iolanta Opera.

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Eraldo Salmieri – maestro, the Austro-Italian Conductor, has been a guest conductor at various orchestras and theatres throughout Europe. He joined the Operosa Festival team in 2007, developing programs for young singers and youth orchestras.

He studied at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan and graduated from the University of Music in Vienna, where he attended the conducting class of Otmar Suitner.

Since 1995 he has been a guest conductor at the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, Slovak Philharmonic, Orchestre Nationale de Bretagne, Hungarian State Philharmonic and in opera theatres in Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Poland and Brazil.

Listen to the full interview with Eraldo about his music preferences and peculiarities of the profession.

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Young opera talents in main roles

We also spoke to Ekaterina Sannikova, the main character and soloist in the opera “Iolanta” and Taras Berezhanski, who played the father of Iolanta, king René.

These two young opera singers successfully went through Operosa auditions and were awarded prime roles in the opera “Iolanta”. The premier received a standing ovation by an enthralled audience.

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Ekaterina Sannikova, singing main character Iolanta in the opera “Iolanta”, Herceg Novi, 2017

Ekaterina is originally from the Ukraine and is, as of this year, a soloist of the Atkins Young Artists Program in Mariinsky Theatre in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She went through casting and got the prime role in the opera “Iolanta”, staged as part of the Operosa Festival in Montenegro 2017.

#mnetoday: To start with, can you tell me a little about yourself, where are you from, where did you grow up and how did you end up in opera?

ES: I started singing classical opera in the Conservatory for years and before that I had trained as an actor and was advised by one of my teachers to try opera. Since opera is old, it is important to me to find something closer to the contemporary times when singing opera.

#mnetoday: You have already performed Iolanta several times in your career. What was the most challenging part for you when going through auditions for Operosa Festival performance?

ES: Nothing really (laughing). I was just a little bit nervous, no matter how many times you sing the opera, you are always worried, especially in front of such professionals like Kathrine, Eraldo and Ashley.

#mnetoday: Is there anything you are particularly excited about for your own future?

ES: I don’t really want to make any predictions. For me it’s important to be part of such projects; it’s very good experience.

#mnetoday: If you could, what are 3 things you would tell your 13-year old self about being a woman in the Arts?

ES: The first and the most important thing is that we (the artists) must be children inside of us, we need to have good imaginations and play. Secondly, be an honest human being, kind to other people and like my teacher Olga Kondina (Mariinsky Theater) have good relationships with your colleagues. Thirdly, learn how to rest. Vocal ability is not like a violin; you cannot buy a new voice.

#mnetoday: Who are your top 3 favorite bands/singers now?

ES: For me it is important to be an actress in music. I like Anna Netrebko, like many others. I also like Rinata Tibaldi and Ghena Dimitrova.

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Taras Berezhanski (to the right), as King Rene in the opera “Iolanta”, Herceg Novi, 2017

Taras Berezhanski, is a singer from Ukraine, performing King Rene in the opera “Iolanta”.

#mnetoday: Please tell us about your background and path in the opera industry. How did you start your career as an opera singer?

TB: I started in Kiev at the Musical Academy of the Pedagogical University and after that I studied at the National Academy in the vocal faculty. Those were my first steps on the page and we practiced a lot and there I sang King Rene for the first time.

#mnetoday: When you were growing up did you always want to become a professional singer?

TB: When I was young I started with accordion and sang in a choir. My teacher heard me and advised me to practice more with my voice.

#mnetoday: What does your character in the opera “Iolanta” have in common with your personality? Do you see any parallel?

TB: Firstly, I have a daughter. I know how sensitive a father is about everything that is happening to a daughter.

#mnetoday:  How would you describe the Operosa festival in one sentence?

TB: It is absolutely great!

#mnetoday: What 3 things would you tell young singers about pursuing a career in Opera today?

TB: First practice a lot. Secondly, be intelligent. Thirdly, work with your body, your voice and with yourself.

See you next year, Operosa!

Source: Operosa, Eraldo Salmieri, Ashley Dean