Charming beginnings: Kseniia Nikolaieva

Promising Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Kseniia Nikolaieva joined the Jette Parker Young Artists Program for the Season 2020/22. Having a great passion for music and visual arts, Kseniia received two master’s degrees: firstly as an opera singer at the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music by Pr. Alexander Dyachenko, and secondly as a designer-architect. Her first opera debut in Kiev Opera Studio was at the age of 19 in the role of Marta (Iolanta). After successful performances at competitions Neue Stimmen, Tenor Viñas Competition, Eva Marton International Singing Competition – she was invited to be part of the National Opera Studio program in London (2019-2020). Kseniia is honored to have been taught by Montserrat Caballe, Elena Obraztsova, Eva Marton, Anita Rachvelishvili, Nelly Miricioiu and many others. Kseniia is supported by a scholarship from the President of Ukraine, VERE MUSIC FUND and Opera Awards Foundation. From 2020-2022 Kseniia joined Jette Parker Young Artists Program in the Royal Opera House. At the start of the 2020/21 Season Kseniia made her Royal Opera debut as Bessie in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny and Eboli/Mrs.Quickly in the Summer Performance. Opera engagements include Marta in Iolanta, Hivria in Mussorgsky’s Sorochinska yarmarka, Olga in Eugene Onegin, Maddalena in Rigoletto and Lubasha in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride (Kiev National Opera Studio), and debuts Sapho in Sapho with the Welsh National Opera and recital with the English National Opera as part of the National Opera Studio Program in 2019–20. Plans include Giovanna in Rigoletto, Annina in La Traviata, Emilia in Otello, Mother in Mavra, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in the Royal Opera House season 2021-2022. 

Hello, Kseniia! Thank you for accepting our invitation, now that your country is passing through such difficult times! We are all watching the tremendous news every day and we’ve been praying for everything to stop. How are you living it and what do you think about the opera world’s reaction on the violent attacks towards Ukraine?

Hello! I was very pleased to receive your invitation, thank you! Ukrainians are a very strong people! Our strength is in our spirit, in truth, in peace-loving, in our unity as a nation and our incorruptible love for our country! The first days of Russia’s attack on Ukraine were like a nightmare! I wanted someone to pinch you, you woke up and all this bloody hell ended! But, unfortunately, all this turned out to be a shocking reality… A reality that takes away human lives, even those that have just been born, destroys our cities with bomb shells, our homes, separates families, tramples on human destinies… The enemy invaded our home – Ukraine without an invitation, with pleasure walking with tank tracks all over her body, destroying everything that is dear to us, that we all created with such love for many years! I no longer recognize my native streets, parks, playgrounds – the cold hand of the barbarian murderers did not tremble before anything! Who are these people?… And are they people at all? The world of art feels life and all its manifestations very subtly, passing what is happening not only through the head, but also through the soul. That response, that support and empathy that the entire opera world is now showing in relation to the terrorist attacks of the aggressor on Ukraine, once again shows everyone the scale of madness, inhumanity and the complete absence of all moral and social values!

The question on everyone’s lips today is: is the culture supposed to stay out of politics or to exercize its social function? How could art and artists help Ukraine at this point?

When it comes to the killing of innocent, peaceful people and crimes against humanity, this is no longer politic!Could art and artists help Ukraine in this situation? Of course, yes! Only tears, feelings, words of condolence, support won’t help grief – you need to act! Everyone should act according to their abilities! Everyone chooses their own way of helping, I can share mine. Now, in London, I participate in many charity concerts, in everything where you can collect financial assistance to support Ukraine! Every day I have at least one performance scheduled. In this situation, the site doesn’t matter to me. Yesterday, for example, I was contacted by the Covent Garden Street Performers Association and asked to perform at Covent Garden Square along with street musicians in front of a large number of people who came to support and donate money for Ukraine, and in the evening I had a performance scheduled at ROH. Of course, I agreed – in this situation, any methods are good! I communicate with sponsors, tell them the situation in Ukraine; in the evening, if there is no performance, I go to a protest, where I also perform. I do all this in order to raise funds and transfer them not to some large organization-fund that closes global problems, but to send them to volunteers in Ukraine, whom I know personally. Volunteers who are at the epicenter, in the occupied territories, who are engaged in the purchase of medicines for hospitals, volunteers who cook and buy food, orphanages, large families. I see all the reporting, so I understand that not a single penalty will be lost or spent incorrectly. Since there is not only an armed war against the Ukrainian people, but also an information war aimed at alerting people with false information and blocking sources of real information by Russia, social networks are also a platform for revealing the situation of real events, in real time. An artist is an influencer, each in his own scale, with his own team of admirers, who is able to pay attention to the problem, to open his eyes to the truth. Therefore, don’t think that this won’t work, even if your story, post will make at least one person think about standing up in defense and support of Ukraine – this is already a victory!

Read the entire interview here, in the 2th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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