Lilly Jørstad: Every time the curtain opens and you step into the brightly shining lights, a unique performance will start right then!

The Norwegian mezzosopran0 LILLY JØRSTADT born in Astrakhan (Russia), starts singing as a child, at the age of 4. When she was a teenager, she moved with her family to Norway where he completed and singing studies, obtaining her Master’s degree at Trømso University in 2012. After participating in many Festivals and winning several prizes, including 1st prize in the Concorso Internazionale di Portofino and third prize in the Concorso Internazionale di Canto Lirico “Giacinto Prandelli”, in the Summer of 2012, Lilly Jørstad attended the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, where she had the chance to debut at Rossini Opera Festival as Melibea in Il viaggio a Reims under the baton of Alberto Zedda. In the same year, she became a soloist at Mariinsky Academy in St.Petersburg. In 2014 she entered Teatro alla Scala Academy where she had the chance to perform Angelina in the production of La Cenerentola for children and to sing in concerts under the baton of Zubin Mehta, Stefano Ranzani, Nayer Nagui in Milan, in Abu Dhabi, and in Egypt. In Autumn 2015 she had her debut on the main stage of Teatro alla Scala, singing Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the historical Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production, alongside Leo Nucci as Figaro and Ruggero Raimondi as Don Basilio. Other highlights of her career include Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Meg in Falstaff, Beethoven’s IX Symphony, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Smeton in Anna Bolena, La Morte de Cleopâtre, Mozart’s Requiem, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role of La Cenerentola, the title role in Tancredi, Dusapin’s Macbeth Underworld, world premiere conducted by Alain Altinoglu at La Monnaie Brussels.

Dear Lilly, it’s a pleasure to meet you and have this interview! Thank you for accepting our invitation. Because it’s almost that time of the year, and Prima alla Scala is near, tell me, how are the rehearsals going? Can you give us a little spoiler regarding the production? How much pressure is it to perform at Teatro alla Scala on December 7th?

Everything is becoming intense, and we, as a group, are giving our best every day. We can feel the big date coming, but this mounting pressure motivates us more. It’s unbelievable to see so many people involved in the process. The backstage staff is our heroes, working hard for us to prepare the set. The performance will be outstanding. However, I can spoil you with nothing, just come and see how marvelous it will be.

Speaking of Boris Godunov… In the context of being a Russian opera and most of the cast is Russian, how do you think the audience will receive this performance in the current socio-political circumstances? Do you think culture, art & artists must stay out of political matters or exercise their social function when the moment comes?

As an artist, I am never involved in politics. However, I want to be clear on this point. I dream of peace and hope it will be restored as soon as possible. Speaking of Boris Godunov, I am working with outstanding people from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, and Austria, who are all excellent opera singers and artists. We are working wholeheartedly for such an important event.

You made your Teatro alla Scala debut as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in 2015, under the baton of Massimo Zanetti, alongside Leo Nucci as Figaro and Ruggero Raimondi as Dan Basilio. What was it like to debut at Teatro alla Scala alongside two legends? Which fundamental aspects did you learn from them?

Singing at Teatro alla Scala was unforgettable, a childhood dream come true. I remember Leo Nucci telling me to create something new – something different – every time I go on the stage. I understood that you shouldn’t be boring in your representations. A little improvisation brings the right balance between adrenaline and control. His advice was fundamental in my career, and I keep it in my heart on every performance. It was emotional to stand together with these two legends in a historical production of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. I can remember myself, as a child, looking at the same output (1973) on TV. And they were there in front of me! In one of the most important theaters in the world. And I was their Rosina, where once was Teresa Berganza, my favorite mezzosoprano. Hard to believe.

Read the entire interview here, in the 9th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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