Charming beginnings: Ana Stănescu

Ana Stănescu is a graduate of the National College of Arts “Dinu Lipatti” in Bucharest and is currently studying at the National University of Music in Bucharest, under the guidance of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Silvia Voinea. Her repertoire includes roles such as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell (UNMB, 2019), Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro  by W. A. Mozart (UNMB, 2020), Euridice in  LOrfeo by Claudio Monteverdi (UNMB, 2018), Ileana in  La șezătoare by Tiberiu Brediceanu at the “Independent Operas Festival” (Iași, 2018)  and the musical Romeo and Juliet by Gérard Presgurvic, in the Opera Studio of UNMB, 2019. She is now studying new opera roles, such as Manon from Le Manon by Jules Massenet, Pamina from Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Mimì from La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini.

Ana describes herself as a very hard-working person, always wanting to learn more and achieve different new skills. She had the chance to participate in a masterclass with soprano, Mariana Nicolesco, where she understood that becoming an opera singer is a process, not a destination. She is now learning German and hopes to improve her Italian and French speaking skills as well.

It’s always a pleasure for OPERA Charm Magazine to chat with such young promising artists so we are glad to have you! First of all, I’d like you to go back in time and remember your first encounter with opera and your first impression of this art form. 

I would like to thank you for giving me the chance to express my experience, feelings and emotions with you and all of the OPERA Charm Magazine’s readers. It is a challenge and also a responsibility.

I will be honest with you: it wasn’t love at first sight. When I was a little girl, I didn’t like opera and I think this was mainly because I didn’t understand it. Before high school I enjoyed singing pop music, but always felt like something was missing, like I was in the wrong place. So when I applied for high school, the only available department for taking singing lessons was… Classical Singing. I wasn’t excited at all, but I decided to give it a shot. The result? I fell in love!!! Now there is no way back, for sure!

Such moments are definitely life changing, am I right? From that point on, you graduated the Arts College in your hometown and, for almost 4 years now, you have been studying at the National Music University in Bucharest. What are the most enlightening experiences that you have experienced during these 8 years, and what are the lessons that these have taught you?

I had a lot of satisfying experiences as a young artist during the last years and there are some that I would love to share with you. Last year, before the pandemic situation took control of our lives, I was invited to perform in Shenzhen, China. It was such an amazing feeling to sing to such big audiences and excited public, to share some parts of the Romanian culture and to learn about theirs. Right after I came back, I had my debut on the stage of the Romanian Atheneum on the occasion of the Grand Opening of Beethoven’s year, singing The Ruins of Athens conducted by Jin Wang.

The World of Opera is charming – I think we both agree with that. I feel like I struck gold with my decisions and I am very grateful for everything that I have experienced so far. A very important lesson that these 8 years have taught me is that I need to embrace and accept every step of the journey. It is not only about voice and talent, beauty and desire.  It is about what you do with what was given to you, how you keep your nose to the grindstone. From my point of view, it is crucial for a young artist to focus on improving him/herself, to accept that it is okay not to be perfect, to do mistakes and learn from them.

This will be a tough question, but I’d like you to be very honest about it. We know that the Romanian voice school has always given great voices – great musicians in general – to the most important stages of the world. What’s the secret behind this, in your opinion? Is the Romanian musical education giving its best to its students, preparing them for what this industry is truly expecting from them, or there are some missing pieces? At the same time, have you ever considered continuing your studies abroad?

The secret behind this, from my point of view, is hard work and intelligence. I think Romanian singers are smart enough to realize that what they learn in school and university is never enough. I had amazing teachers who gave me, in some cases, more information that I could handle. I always studied hard and wanted to be one of the best students, so I kept improving myself by reading, listening to a lot of opera, attending masterclasses, participating in national and international contests and learning new languages. 

I have the privilege to work with the amazing Romanian soprano, Silvia Voinea. She is not only a fantastic opera singer; she is also a great teacher and one of the reasons why I chose to remain in my hometown and not to study abroad. I haven’t decided where to do my Master’s Degree and studying abroad is an option that I am thinking of.

At this point of the beginning of your career, what do you think about it: is a strong vocal technique enough to build a top career? If not, why?

A strong vocal technique is extremely important, but insufficient. A top opera singer needs to be a great actor as well, a good stage partner and someone that has the courage to be exposed. I realised that I need so much more than technique. It is about the love, the emotions that you are putting into your music, so that it can “touch” your audience’s souls.

If you were to have a coffee with a composer or a singer from the past, who would that be and why?

I would definitely love to have a coffee with Maria Callas. Her strength, her musical intelligence, her life story as an artist and as a woman truly inspires me. She always fought to get what she wanted and wasn’t named “La Divina” for nothing. She really was and still is divine!

2020 was a particular year for all of us and the beginning of 2021 doesn’t seem very promising for the arts either. As a student and a singer at the same time, how have you been taking advantage of all this free time and how is the Music University in Bucharest dealing with the restrictions in order to keep lessons going?

2020 was an amazing year for me.  My voice developed in such a beautiful way; I had more time for myself, and more time to study. It was difficult at the beginning, because none of us was prepared for all these online classes, but eventually we got used to them. Now we are able to do our singing and opera classes at the university. It feels so good to be back to normal!

We will definitely follow and support your further development. But in the meantime, give us a little spoiler: what’s next? 

Thank you so much for your support. I can’t stop watching and admiring everything you do for artists at the beginning of their careers.  To answer your question, I am now working on the role of Mimì from La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini and I can’t even tell you how excited I am that we are able to work on this beautiful project at our university! We will present it in June in the festival Opera Mania and we are planning to present it on many other stages. I really hope that this whole pandemic situation will be on our side and receive support.

What’s the most charming feature of opera?

The most charming feature of opera for me is the ability of an artist to live dozens of lives in only one, through the characters that they interpret. And what I love about this is that I get to know myself better by discovering them. So many feelings, so many emotions that make me realize I am so lucky to be one of the women who know what she’s fighting for. This form of art will never die, and you are one of those who keep it alive. 

I am so thankful that I had my first interview with you, my beautiful, smart and amazing friend. I really hope to see you soon!

Thank you very much, my dear Ana! In bocca al lupo!

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