Charming beginnings: Maria Barakova

Maria was born in 1998 in Kemerovo (Russia). In 2017 she completed her studies at the Novosibirsk Musical College where she got a professional diploma in vocal performance. Currently Maria continues her vocal education in the Gnessin Academy of Music. In September 2017, she joined the Young Artist Program of the Bolshoi Theatre and started working with the Head of the Program, Prof. Dmitry Vdovin and other prominent coaches such as John Fisher, Alessandro Amoretti, Ewamaria Wieser, Ernesto Palacio, Diane Zola, Makvala Kasrashvili, Michelle Wegwart, Lubov Orfenova, Irina Bogacheva. She has taken part in numerous chamber concerts at the Bolshoi Theatre’s Beethoven Hall, performing Russian, Italian and German art songs. Maria made her debut on the Historical Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in the supporting part of Petrovna in The Tsar’s Bride by Rimsky-Korsakov. In Summer 2018, she took part in the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro where she sang Melibea in Teatro Rossini. In November 2018, she returned to Pesaro to perform the mezzo-soprano part in Stabat Mater by Rossini. Maria is the 1st Prize winner of the International Vocal Competitions Christmas Assembly in 2015 in Saint Petersburg, the Natalia Spiller International Vocal Competition in Moscow, 2018 and the XXVI Glinka International Vocal Competition in Kazan, 2019. The highlight of her 2019-2020 season was her stunning performance at the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition in St Petersburg where she was awarded 1st Prize. Maria participated in a winners’ concert in Vladivostok, in Saint Petersburg and in Moscow with Maestro Valery Gergiev. Her repertoire includes Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri and Melibea in Il Viaggio a Reims by Gioachino Rossini, as well Lel’ in The Snow Maiden and Lubava in Sadko by Rimsky-Korsakov, Olga in Eugene Onegin by Piotr Ilici Tchaikovsky, and Bradamante in Alcina by George Friedrich Händel. In 2020, she made her debut in the Bolshoi theatre as Lubava in Sadko by Rimsky-Korsakov and as the Spring in The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov in Novosibirsk Opera Theatre. In July 2021 she will be a participant in Bregenz Opera Festival where she will sing the title mezzo-soprano role, Isabella, in the opera L’Italiana in Algeri

Hello Maria, it’s always a pleasure to chat with the promising starts of the opera world! Thank you for accepting our invitation. Let’s start from the beginning. How old were you when you discovered that opera was your path? Was it love at first sight?

Hello!  I was very pleased to accept this interview invitation, thank you. I started to sing when I was only three but I really realized that opera was completely mine only when I was nine. It was in the Mariinsky Theatre, when I watched the opera “Le Nozze di Figaro”. Until that moment I just sang and I liked it, but after visiting the opera house I realized that I wanted to be not a viewer but a singer there, on stage.

You completed your studies at the Novosibirsk Musical College, continued your vocal education in the Gnessin Academy of Music and then you joined the Young Artist Program of the Bolshoi Theatre. How was this experience for you and what do these Young Artist Programs look for in a young singer in auditions? What is the most valuable thing you have learned there?

First of all, I’m immensely happy that I was able to combine my studies at the Gnessin Academy and work in the Young Opera Program (artistic director: Dmitry Vdovin). Together they complemented each other. At the Academy I continued to study the basic musical skills of musical literacy and vocal technique. In the Young Opera Program, the same knowledge was given on a larger scale, and we also received other equally useful skills there: the study of four languages (English, Italian, German and French), communication skills, the correct approach to choosing  repertoire (which is better to take to competitions and what to show at a master class or audition), how to dress, be in society and, of course, vocal classes with the best coaches in the world.

Read the entire interview here, in the 5th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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