The Institutional Concert is in 2 days and we are looking forward to see our Soloists of the 2021-23 biennium graduate. In this occasion, here are the stories of the young students, also through their performances.
Today we discover the story of Greta Doveri, Italian soprano, who accompanies her interview with a performance of ‘Il vecchiotto cerca moglie’ from Il barbiere di Siviglia, which has just been staged at Teatro alla Scala:
Let’s start from the beginning: how was your first approach to Opera? Tell us how you experienced this passion for singing in your country, and the experiences that led to your decision to come to Milan to study this art
My history with opera is quite unique: it was not in my life plan at first actually. I approached singing at the age of nine when I was studying pop music at a school near my town, which is a small village in Tuscany. I really liked the Afro-American beats, soul, blues and I was a little songwriter back then. Furthermore, I took part in several competitions and tv programmes such as ‘Io Canto’ on Canale5 or the Junior Eurovision Contest in 2012, the Castrocaro Festival on Rai1, ect.
When I started the Musical High School in Lucca, however, I was required to study classical music. I knew nothing of the repertoire, of what an imposted voice was, I had never done vocals, I had never studied on a music sheet… but my very first teacher, already on the very first day, noticed my natural predisposition to lyric opera. In fact, when I told her that I had never studied that genre, she thought I was pulling her leg. The truth was that opera was a genre that had never particularly attracted me and I felt more akin to another world and other styles.
That was probably because I did not at the time but, as i grew up, opera went from being unknown to a great love. Especially thanks to Puccini, which I started studying from a young age, although it is well known that one needs considerable technical and interpretative maturity to work with it.
When I was 18, I started my first opera singing competitions and they all went very well, better than I expected. Thanks to these achievements and the encouragement of people in the sector, I decided to begin a career. I remember that a decisive competition for me was AsLiCo in 2021, which gave me the strength to attempt the audition for the Academy of Teatro alla Scala. It would have been a dream for me to get in at only 21 years old, and when this dream came true, my life changed.
Tell us about your years at the Academy
I believe that the Academy is not just a professional experience but a life experience. After these two years in Milan, a city full of chances and opportunities, very different from the small country town I came from, I grew a lot both as a person and as an artist. At the Academy, I worked with top professionals like Luciana D’Intino and teachers like Scalera, D’Elia, Finazzi and many others. A young singer has the opportunity to compare himself with artists from all over the world and you have the chance to go on stage at La Scala debuting iconic roles. You are immediately confronted with a stage that is considered the temple of opera and this is extremely valuable and educational. I would say that anyone who is admitted is privileged. On the human side, the staff of the Academy’s Music Department is wonderful, they have always made us feel at home and have become a second family. Sharing this journey with colleagues and in general with such beautiful people and inspiring artists has been a source of comfort and happiness. I have been very lucky.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Facing different styles. I truly think it’s a challenge for every singer, but for me it was especially challenging. Very often we get passionate about a certain composer, style, specific part of the repertoire, because we are guided by instinct and what is closest to our sensibility. Of course, when you enter a top academy, and in general in the world of work, being ductile is a prerogative. And I learnt this from my first role at the Academy: Carolina in Il matrimonio segreto, which is a repertoire completely different from mine and was a great challenge.
Personally, I think that when an artist starts to range through the repertoire and studies with such excellent teachers like the ones I had at the Academy, she starts to really get appassionate about everything! Because there is too much wonderful music to limit herself to one style. In conclusion, opening myself up was the biggest challenge, but also the most exciting.
A Soloist’s career could be as beautiful as it is challenging. There could be pressure, expectations, risks, but also breathtaking emotions and satisfaction. Moreover, a singer could carry the emotional journey of the charachters they perform, feeling their emotions, their thoughts, their sadness and joy. It could be deep. In general, it is perceived as not a lightweight career. What do you think about this? How do you manage the most challenging aspects of your career?
I think that risk is part of every singer’s life and that it is also the key ingredient for doing important things. From my point of view, if you love this work, you also love this combination of risks and rewards. I am a great believer in calculated and rational risk; it is up to the intelligence of the person to choose the occasions when it is worth taking a leap. And often this ‘danger’ makes things more magical.
As for the psychological interpretation of the characters: that’s the best thing about this job for me. And also the most complicated. You have to get inside the spirit of the character and bring it to life, make it a person. In this you have to find a balance that allows you to also include aspects of your own experience, to make the character more human and more real. It is very intimate and, in fact, I find that this profession is often intertwined with personal life… it is sometimes difficult to find a boundary. I firmly believe that theatre brings life to the stage and that the characters, once extrapolated from the score, become flesh and blood beings with thoughts and feelings, which we singers host for the time of the performance. It is not fiction, it is a gift the artist gives the audience: not just stories but real life.
During this biennium, how important was the support from donors? What did it mean to you?
The support of the Hildegard Zadek Foundation has been of fundamental importance for me. I would like to thank them deeply for choosing to award me a scholarship. I am honoured by all the support they have given to me and to all the other young artists out there, because they allow us not only to pursue a personal dream but also the great tradition of Italian bel canto. And this is so crucial from a historical and cultural point of view.
I am always in touch with them, they come to see me at concerts and we catch up on all my breakthroughs.
In addition, for me Hildegard Zadek is an inspiration. From the artistic side, because I aspire to have some of the roles she sang and to interpret them as well as she did, but especially from a human side. She lived in a truly difficult and delicate historical period and her life was just as complex, and the strength she showed in dealing with all this is an incredible source of esteem and respect.
Thanks to the Hildegard Zadek Foundation for the support