Svetlina Stoyanova: The opera singer’s life is very exciting, filled with emotions on and off stage, and in order to be able to manage it all, I believe having support at home from your family is the most valuable and important thing.

Bulgarian Mezzo Soprano, Svetlina Stoyanova, was born in Sofia. She sung in the Children’s Choir of the Bulgarian National Radio for 9 years. She trained in the UK, obtaining a Bachelor degree with Honours and two Masters degrees (Vocal Performance in 2016 and Opera in 2018) from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, under the tutelage of Clare Shearer. In 2016 Ms Stoyanova was awarded 3rd Prize and highest ranked female singer in Le Grand Prix de l’Opera, and was subsequently invited to record with the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and in 2017 she was awarded 1st prize in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition. Immediately after her competition success, Svetlina Stoyanova was invited by Opéra de Nice Côte d’Azur and Anthéa Theatre to perform Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) and the leading role of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) for the Bregenz Festival. Svetlina Stoyanova joined the Vienna State Opera as a soloist for seasons 2018/19 and 2019/20. She made her house debut as Dryade (Ariadne auf Naxos) and also performed the roles of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia)Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro)Roßweisße (Die Walküre) and Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), among others. She also appeared in guest performances of the Vienna State Opera as Cherubino at the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg and as Zerlina (Don Giovanni) at the Tonhalle, Düsseldorf. With Ensemble Matheus, led by Maestro Jean-Christophe Spinosi, Svetlina Stoyanova made her role debut as Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri) which toured in France. In the summer of 2020 Svetlina Stoyanova made her debut as Angelina, (La Cenerentola) with the New Generation Festival in Florence, Italy. In 2021 Svetlina Stoyanova made her debuts in Bolshoi Theatre with the role of RosinaSofia National Opera as Angelina and in Teatro alla Scala as Cherubino; and returned to Bregenz Festival as Wellgunde in Das Rheingold. She also performed the role of Rosina at Teatro alla Scala in a new production by Leo Muscato. Season 2022 sees debuts at the Glyndebourne Festival  as Ruggiero (Alcina), Opernhaus Zurich, Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), Hamburg State Opera, Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Latvian National Opera, Angelina (La Cenerentola).  As well as concert performances with the Bayerischer Rundfunk as Ganymed (Die Schöne Galathée) and at the Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam asBeppe (L’amico Fritz).

Dear Svetlina, it’s a pleasure to meet you! Thank you for accepting our invitation. How did the music find you? You initially went to Scotland to Glasgow University to study Psychology, but you ended up transferring to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. What motivated you to make this change?

It’s a true pleasure to meet you as well and thank you for inviting me. Music has always been a part of me in some way. When I was very little my grandmother took me to the opera regularly. I have always been fascinated, not so much with what was happening on stage but actually with the conductor and the orchestra. When I was at the age of 3, my grandmother said she found me playing on the stairsand singing ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata! I sang in the Children’s Choir of the Bulgarian National Radio for nine years but I never wanted to professionally sing. Hence, I went to Scotland to study Psychology but I wanted to keep singing in a choir and on the map of Glasgow I found the Royal Conservatoire of  Scotland, not knowing it was one of the top music schools in the world… So I went with a CD of recordings of some solos I sang in the choir to the front desk and said “I want to sing in a choir what do I do?”. Little did I know they would invite me to audition in the middle of the first term and ask me to start immediately.  The head of the department at the time Professor Christopher Underwood so charmingly convinced me that I would have a career in my mid-twenties. Whilst I struggled to make my mind up in the following week, I struggled to make my mind up in the following week, I received a message that my first lesson at the RCS was the next day and that was that!

Considering that you are from Eastern Europe, Bulgaria to be precise, how was your experience at the conservatoire in Scotland? Did you encounter any difficulties? Did you face any preconceptions?

My main difficulty was with myself.  As I don’t come from a family of musicians or artists I had no idea how any of this world works. We have a saying in Bulgaria “a musician doesn’t feed a family” and I grew up with the idea of having a ‘normal’ job.  After starting at the RCS I had a deal with my mother that if by the age of 27 I was not getting anywhere with music I would transfer to study finance. That was definitely extra motivation! I struggled a lot in my first years at the conservatoire, as I had not studied any music or even My main difficulty was with myself.  As I don’t come from a family of musicians or artists I had no idea how any of this world works. We have a saying in Bulgaria “a musician doesn’t feed a family” and I grew up with the idea of having a ‘normal’ job.  After starting at the RCS I had a deal with my mother that if by the age of 27 I was not getting anywhere with music I would transfer to study finance.  That was definitely extra motivation! I struggled a lot in my first years at the conservatoire, as I had not studied any music or even had any singing lessons before and everyone else was already ahead of me in everything. There are so many singers from Eastern Europe that are idolised like Ghena Dimitrova, Raina Kabaivanska, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Hristov and many others. And then there was me getting low marks and being told I have so much more to give…

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

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