The voices of reason

In the International Opera Summer Program, celebrated teachers hone young talent for the world stage.

July 3, 2013 14:30
3 minute read.
Russian singer Ljuba Kazarnovskaya

Russian singer Ljuba Kazarnovskaya. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The international Opera Summer Program in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, which runs between July 1-27 this year at the Ted and Lin Arison Conservatory, has become the major fun event for local music lovers during the summer. Open master classes, concerts, minimalist opera productions and, above all, young talent who come from all over the world to hone their vocal art with the best teachers from various fields of the operatic world. Young passions, young ambitions and hopes, sheer magic, happens in front of your eyes when a renowned singer, with just a few tips, changes the performance of his or her beginner colleague. Just to see the stars of tomorrow – who could ask for more?

Not only beginners but also established young singers consider it important to return to the summer workshop again and again. And many alumni of the summer course, which was founded and is still directed by legendary Metropolitan Opera coach Joan Dornemann, have become singers with solid international careers.

Renowned Russian singer Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (pictured), taught at the summer workshop for five years until 2001. Now, after a 12-year hiatus, she returns to Tel Aviv. On July 14, she will lead a master class, and on the July 17 she will be a host at the Russian Romance concert.

“I am happy to return to Tel Aviv to see the dear familiar faces of the faculty members and hopefully those who were students when I taught there and have now become real singers,” says Kazarnovskaya in a phone interview from her Moscow home.

Kazarnovskaya admits that although she does not have enough time to teach on a steady basis, she has a few students who are far from being beginners.

“It was Joan Dornemann who said that I knew how to find the common language with students, and by that she convinced me to start teaching. The truth is that I am good at explaining, and I really help young singers achieve their goals,” she says.

She goes on to say that beyond technical aspects, teaching is first and foremost about the spiritual and emotional development of a student.

“As a teacher, I need to help to my student find his or her individual manner, style, tone of his voice because it’s almost impossible to do it alone. Above all, a true teacher is one who explains to his student that he or she has to fill every aria with human emotion – as opposed to ‘just a teacher’ who suggests that the student should sing the notes loudly.”

Kazarnovskaya believes that there is only one school in the world: “The Italian tradition, which is almost 400 years old. To it, national traditions of vocal music interpretation are added,” she asserts.

The internationally acclaimed soprano considers herself extremely lucky:

“My teacher Ms. Malysheva was the assistant in the class of renowned professor Umberto Masetti, who taught in Moscow before the October Revolution,” she recounts. “The greatest Russian singers of the time were among his students, such as Obukhova and Sobinov; and he shared his advice with famous Russian bass Shaliapin. So I was taught according to the principles of the great bel canto school of Bologna, where Masetti came from. Malysheva also taught me to present a romance or an aria as a dramatic piece. And as if that was not enough, she served as Shaliapin’s accompanist and often started our lessons with his recordings. ‘Just listen to how colorful his vowels are. His ‘ah’ can be dark and bright, sad, tragic, happy. And that is what dramaturgy of your character is about.’”

Every year, music schools all over the world produce thousands of welltrained singers, far more than required for opera and concert stages. So what advice does Kazarnovskaya have for aspiring beginners?

 “I always say, ‘Don’t copy others. Don’t be the 20th Maria Callas and the 15th Pavarotti. It can help perhaps for a short period of time, like five years, but that is all. Try to be yourself, to develop your unique individuality – that is how people would like to hear you time and again.’”

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