Charming beginnings: Francesca Benitez

Born in Chiavari, she began her singing studies privately with Cira di Gennaro at the age of 14. She graduated with top marks at the Conservatorio “Paganini” di Genoa, at the age of just 21, under the guidance of Maria Trabucco and she is currently perfecting her vocal technique and repertoire with the sopranos Desirée Rancatore and Maria Argento. She is the winner of the 69th As.Li.Co. Competition for Young Singers for the role of the Countess of Folleville in Il Viaggio a Reims, but also the winner of numerous other international opera competitions, among which the International Award “Opera-Città of Mondovì” in its XXVII edition. Francesca began her career at Teatro San Carlo in Naples performing as the Köning der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte. She has starred in various roles at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, including Musetta in La Bohème, Nella in Gianni Schicchi directed by Roberto Panerai and Yvette in La Rondine of Giacomo Puccini. She performed in the opera L’Elisir d’Amore at Macerata Opera Festival directed by Damiano Michieletto (production broadcast on Rai5) and in the same theater she was Frasquita in 2019. Francesca performed as Contessa di Folleville in “Il Viaggio a Reims” at Teatro Sociale in Como, at Teatro Fraschini in Pavia, at Teatro Sociale in Bergamo and at Teatro Ponchielli in Cremona. She was Despina in Così fan tutte directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi and she performed the role of Rosita in Un Mari à la Porte of Offenbach at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She performed in the new production of Lakmé directed by Davide Livermore at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. She performed an intense concert activity at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, at Teatro Bibiena in Mantova, at the Opera Gala Fuoco di Gioia at Teatro Regio in Parma during the Festival Verdi and at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa.

First, I would like to introduce you to those who read us: at 14 you discovered your connection with singing, studying privately. How did this encounter with the opera come about?

The encounter with opera was actually born much earlier, my aunt is a pianist and since childhood she made me listen to classical music, although I must admit that I preferred the Queen to Mozart (Mozart please don’t turn around in your grave). The rock genre actually accompanied me for many years and I still like it a lot. At 14, I was the vocalist of an alternative rock band and I decided to take singing lessons. My teacher was a soprano and the transition from rock to opera was almost immediate. I must admit that I initially suffered from my predisposition for opera singing, because it was a language that I did not know, but little by little I started to get passionate, how could I not get overwhelmed by this world. Then you graduated from the “Paganini” Conservatory in Genoa.

How much did your period in the conservatory influence your character as an artist? Many shy away from it, others adore it: what role did it play for you? Was there a teaching that remained in your heart?

I entered the Conservatory at 17, at the same time I was attending the Art School. The Conservatory for me was a blessing from heaven, up until that moment I had never managed to settle in very well at school. In the Conservatory, however, I immediately found an environment that mirrored me and people really similar to me. I would therefore say that the Conservatory has greatly influenced my character as an artist and above all on my person, without considering that it’s thanks to it that I have a general knowledge of music and I didn’t just aim at singing technique. I am definitely one of those who love it. More than one teaching has remained in my heart, surprisingly I will say the lessons of Solfeggio and History of Music, perhaps more for the teachers than for the subject itself. My Solfeggio teacher was Cécile Peyrot, a French with a more than absolute ear, I should tell you that she recognized the note produced by the chair when it was dragged on the floor. And my Music History teacher was Roberto Iovino, a music critic, the textbook we were studying was written by him and it still remains the first I consult in my library. Also, I was part of a Madrigals ensemble during the years of the Conservatory, it was fundamental for my ear.

Read the entire interview here, in the 8th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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