Charming beginnings: Marta Pluda

In a charming conversation with Ana Stănescu, Marta Pluda talks about her beautiful ascension in the opera world, how she manages to remain focused in any circumstances, the most important qualities that an opera singer should possess and her favorite moments while being on stage. The music academies that she went to, the contests and concerts where she performed, have shaped the person and the artist that she is today. We kindly invite you to discover how incredible she is and how many things she accomplished by only 24 years old!

In May 2021, Marta Pluda had a concert with the Solisti Veneti conducted by M° Giuliano Carella in the Basilica of Sant’Antonio in Padua, where she performed Nisi Dominus and Invicti bellate by Vivaldi. In the summer of the same year, she was Enrico in Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra by Rossini at the Rossini Opera Festival, where she also took part in the Gala Rossini with Juan Diego Florez. In the Summer of 2019, she attended the Belcanto Academy in Martina Franca and performed at the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Coscoletto and Robinson Crusoe by Offenbach. In March, she sang Mozart’s Requiem with the Orchestra della Magna Grecia at the cathedrals of Taranto and Matera as part of the events of Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019. In November 2018, she played the role of  Angelina in a reduction of La Cenerentola at the Florence Opera, a role she also sang at the Auditorium Toscanini in Turin with the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI and at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. It is a role that she is still performing and you will be able to find out more about it reading our conversation. Marta won several competitions, including the Toti Dal Monte Opera Competition in 2018 as Cherubino for Le nozze di Figaro, an opera that was performed at the Teatro Comunale di Treviso, the Teatro Pergolesi di Jesi and the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara. In 2020, she was a finalist in the AsLiCo Competition and chosen for the role of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. In 2016-2018 she studied at the Accademia del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She participated in theatre productions, singing roles such as Atala in Offenbach’s Evening Wind, Araspe in Didone abbandonata, published in CD and DVD by Dynamic Opera Classic, Annina and Flora in La traviata conducted by Fabio Luisi and directed by Francesco Micheli, Contessa di Ceprano in Rigoletto conducted by M° Renato Palumbo. She was Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Bianca in La rondine with the direction of M° Marco Armiliato, Prima Novizia in Suor Angelica by Puccini and Rosina in a reduction of Il barbiere di Seville.

Hello, Marta! I am so glad that you accepted our invitation to talk a little bit about your thoughts, your story and your path. It is a pleasure for me to have you interviewed, especially because we are almost at the same age and we are both willing to have a long lasting, beautiful and charming career in the opera world, isnt it? With that being said, I would love to know how you managed to keep up the good work through these tough times and what motivated you to continue growing and studying?

Hi, Ana! It is my pleasure to chat with you about a passion we have in common: the love of opera. You are right, the last period has really put us to the test. We all know how difficult the path is for a young person who wants to try to turn his passion into a job, and never before have our certainties about the future wavered as much as in recent years. Personally, I have tried to find, as is my character, a silver lining in the storm that surrounded us. The lockdown and the fact that I was housebound made me realize that I had something very precious at my disposal: time. How many times I had wished for it and at that moment I had a lot of it, so I absolutely had to put it to use. So I studied, perfected my technique, learned many new roles, experimented, played and above all I got to know myself better.

As a young mezzosoprano, you already took part of some wonderful concerts, productions and competitions. Your hard work can bee seen through your multiple achievements and I can only congratulate you and hope that you will continue this way. I would like you to tell me which is the most beautiful memory you have from being on stage? Do you feel more comfortable when singing in a concert or do you prefer to be a part of an opera production?

Yes, I am honored and I feel very lucky… The memory that filled most my heart with joy was meeting the audience after a performance of La Cenerentola at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Theatre. There were so many children hugging me and taking pictures with me, as if I were their idol. The most beautiful thing was that they asked me how they could get back to the theatre. Their enthusiasm and their shining eyes made me think that by that day my little mission had been accomplished: I had conveyed to them my love for this wonderful art and the curiosity to want to learn about it. As for whether I am more comfortable singing in concert or in a production, I always prefer the full opera. Singing in concert is actually more difficult because you have to go from one character to another within five minutes, get inside their head and convey their emotions to the audience. In a full opera, however, it is easier because you are that character, there is only one story, and you are helped by the scenery, the costumes and the presence of other colleagues acting and singing next to you.

Your first encounter with music was not singing, but playing the piano at the age of only 5 years old, am I right? How did that help the person that you are today? Do you believe that studying an instrument is a must or just an option?

Actually, my first encounter with music was when I was in my mother’s belly (she was also an opera singer), so I like to say that music has really always been a part of my life! I started studying piano as a child. At the time, it was a game that allowed me to play my favorite songs, today it is essential because I am able to study the scores of the roles I need to learn by myself. Of course, I need a pianist to give me advice and accompany me, but it is important to start from a good base. Being able to read music is a necessary requirement for a singer in the 21st century. Only then are we fully aware of what we are performing and are 100% professional.

Which are the essential qualities that an opera singer should possess? Do you think it is enough to have a beautiful voice and a good technique?

It may seem obvious to say that to be an opera artist today, a beautiful voice combined with good technique is not enough. An opera singer is perhaps the most complete artist there is. Besides making sounds in the correct and healthy way for the voice, we have to make music and play a character, lending our body to be a person sometimes very different from ourselves. We have to have a strong physique and a trained breath also to be able to follow the director’s requests, interact with colleagues without losing contact with the conductor. In all of this we must always try not to get sick, take care of our physical, vocal and mental health, have good emotional solidity and a strong character. We have to learn to live alone for long periods, be very determined, believe in yourself and never stop studying.

In 2018, you were La Cenerentolas Angelina in a reduction at the Florence Opera, a role that you also played at the Auditorium Toscanini in Turin with the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. I can tell that it is a role that suits you well, considering the fact that you have recently presented it to the audience. What changed in terms of approaching the role? Do you see it from a different perspective? Were these 3 years beneficial for you to identify more with the character?

The role of Cinderella has always been one of my dream roles. The funny thing is that the first time I tried to sing the Rondo, I immediately closed the score, thinking it was not suitable for my voice. But now it is one of the roles that I feel right for me. Of course, vocally speaking, it is constantly evolving as my voice is growing with me. From the point of view of the character, I like to put a bit of Marta in my Cinderella: I am very similar to her in terms of sweetness, determination, always being able to find a positive side in situations and the ability to dream. Then, working with directors and masters, in each production you find traits that enrich it or give it different nuances.

In the Summer of 2019 you attended the Belcanto Academy in Martina Franca, and then, in 2020, you were at the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro. What are the most valuable pieces of information you have accumulated and how did those experiences help you in your carrier?

I think that attending important academies is a very enriching step in the path of a young artist because it allows you to meet teachers, artists and professionals. Having fellow travelers allows you to stimulate each other and learn from each other. In addition, these academies usually give young people the opportunity to take part in the productions of their theatres: in this way, you can go on stage in roles that are perhaps less exposed, but which nevertheless allow you to work alongside experienced artists and musicians and to learn from the greatest of masters: the Stage.

Rossini Opera Festival was one of your 2021 highlights. Would you like to tell us more about this experience?

As soon as I started singing Rossini’s first arias, the Accademia rossiniana and the Rossini Opera Festival became one of my career dreams. I love Rossini, he is a great singing Maestro and I absolutely wanted to deepen my study of him in a ‘specialized’ environment. Therefore, you can only imagine my joy when I found out that I had been selected among the actual students. I had the opportunity to study with great masters such as Ernesto Palacio. I debuted the roles of Marquise Melibea and Maddalena in Il viaggio a Reims, debuts that took place in the middle of the pandemic, so I felt even more fortunate. Then came my participation in Elizabeth Queen of England, which was as beautiful as it was unexpected! One of the things that enriched me most was working with director Davide Livermore on an en travesti role. Having studied ballet for 13 years, it was difficult for me to play a man. You’ll say to me: ‘but you had already sung Cherubino!’ It’s true, but Cherubino is an adolescent boy, so his attitudes are not fully those of a grown man. Henry, on the other hand, is a young man who has the courage to follow his sister to the enemy’s court to protect her. His soul is so noble that, as soon as he realizes that the life of the Queen (his sister’s love rival) is in danger, he saves her at the risk of his own life. Davide’s advice was invaluable and taught me that it is the musical score itself that suggests the directing movements to be made. I also learned to scrupulously observe my body from the inside as if I were looking at myself from the outside. I don’t want to forget my participation in the concert celebrating the 25-year career of the great tenor Juan Diego Florez. As a Rossinian singer, I have always listened to his recordings, so being at his side and singing for an evening felt like daydreaming.

Opera Charm Magazine loves to support young artists as talented and determined as you are and you can be sure about the fact that we will always keep an eye on you, enjoying your achievements and success. But until then, could you give us some spoiler? Whats next?

I am really happy about that! It is very important for a young artist to be supported and to know that people believe in me. My next engagements are Rossini’s La Cenerentola with AsLiCo at the Teatro Sociale in Como, a very colorful show that we will take to many other theatres in Italy, including the Teatro Regio in Parma, the Arcimboldi in Milan, the Teatro Grande in Brescia and the Sferisterio in Macerata. At the end of February I will be back at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro to celebrate Gioacchino Rossini’s non-completion with a concert performance of one of his masterpieces: Tancredi.

As you can imagine, we can not end this beautiful conversation before you tell us: what is the most charming feature of opera from your point of view?

It’s a very hard question: opera is so charming in so many ways. It gives us the possibility of travelling a lot and meeting new people and new ideas, so that we can enrich our mind and way of thinking. Opera makes us live a different story every time we go on stage or we go to the theatre. We can get involved and get emotioned by the music, the voices, by the power of a live show! Opera is unique and could never be substituted by recordings. It needs to be LIVED 

It was nice having you! Thank you for your answers and see you on social media!

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