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  • Young Artist Profile: Nadezhda Karyazina - 'If your performance is from the heart, you can always connect with the audience'

Young Artist Profile: Nadezhda Karyazina - 'If your performance is from the heart, you can always connect with the audience'

The Russian mezzo-soprano on working with the best coaches in the world, BP Big Screen performances and the challenges of Madama Butterfly.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

13 March 2015 at 12.28pm | Comment on this article

Madama Butterfly is a very special opera. It is so full of love, emotion and tragedy that, whenever I listen to or rehearse it, I always want to cry,’ says Jette Parker Young Artist Nadezhda Karyazina. ‘It was written a century ago, but it is still relevant to us, and still will be in 100 years’ time; a story about love and loss will always mean something.’

Nadezhda, who joined the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the start of the 2013/14 Season, is covering the role of Suzuki in Puccini’s iconic tragedy, a role she has never sung before.

‘It really depends on the opera, but I usually allow at least two months before rehearsals start to learn the music. There is just so much to do when you learn a new role. You have to know the whole opera back to front, translating the text and working with the coaches on the music and the stagecraft’, she explains. ‘The sessions with the music coaches are so valuable. At Covent Garden, they really do have the best coaches in the world, and then you are on stage with superstars like Diana Damrau, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Jonas Kaufmann. It's amazing!’

The principal cast for Madama Butterfly includes Kristine Opolais as Cio-Cio-San, Brian Jagde as Pinkerton and Enkelejda Shkosa as Suzuki, with Nicola Luisotti conducting.

‘Covering a role like this is great. The cast is fantastic and so it's such a pleasure to see how they work and how professional they are’, she says. ‘As a cover, I will have about two weeks in rehearsals, and will observe every rehearsal on the stage - you can learn a lot from your colleagues! Kristine Opolais, who I worked with for Manon Lescaut, is just amazing, as are Enkelejda Shkosa and conductor Nicola Luisotti. I’m really looking forward to it.’

Madama Butterfly, which opens on 20 March, is one of Puccini’s best-loved works. A critique on imperialism, the opera was conceived as an East-meets-West clash, something reflected in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production.

‘Suzuki isn’t the lead female role, but she's always on stage and so you can see how her character develops’, says Nadezhda. ‘The opera mixes two very different cultures, and her reaction to the culture clash is interesting.’

Since joining the Programme, Nadezhda has performed on the Main Stage in productions including Francesca Zambello’s naturalistic production of Carmen, Jonathan Kent’s contemporary new production of Manon Lescaut, and the 2014/15 Season-opener Rigoletto.

‘At the beginning of the 2014/15 Season, I sang Maddalena in Rigoletto, and it was relayed live on BP Big Screens around the country’, she says. ‘It was so exciting to know that the performance was being watched across the UK. It was a real highlight for me as Maurizio Benini was conducting a fantastic cast, and the energy and support from the team was amazing.’

Madama Butterfly will be Nadezhda’s last Royal Opera production of the 2014/15 Season: this June, she is expecting her first child: ‘Of course, I have been tired at times in rehearsals, but the baby has helped me in so many ways – both performing and in rehearsals. It has helped me find where to push with my breath, and I feel much calmer and more relaxed.’

Nadezhda was born and raised in Moscow, studying musical theatre at the Russian Academy of the Theatrical Arts in Moscow, before going on to  train at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre. Yet despite her comprehensive musical education, Nadezhda is the first of her family to study music.

‘Believe it or not, both my parents are engineers and my brother is a journalist’, she says. ‘Although my mother always dreamed of music, I'm the first singer in the family! I saw my first opera when I was six years old: Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa at the Bolshoi Theatre. After the show, I said immediately that I would be an opera singer.’

Since graduating, the operatic stage has never been far away for Nadezhda. Prior to joining the JPYA Programme, she spent two years as a Young Artist with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, followed by six months with the Landestheater ensemble in Salzburg. In September, she takes up a contract with Hamburg State Opera. ‘I think it’s very important for young artists to keep working as much as possible, to always learn new roles and be on the stage’, she explains. ‘And no matter where you are, if your performance is from the heart, you can always connect with the audience.’

Madama Butterfly runs from 20 March to 11 April 2015. Very few tickets remain, though returns may become available and 67 day tickets available on the morning of the performance.

It is a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, is sponsored by Coutts and is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mr and Mrs Christopher W.T. Johnston and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme is supported by Oak Foundation. Find out more about the Programme.

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