Sometimes it seems that she’s deliberately called a Russian performer, although she always emphasizes, “I am from Ukraine.” She believes in the future of elite art and doesn’t mind singing with her mother. About education and success, whims of stars, experiments and an ideal audience – the way Lyudmyla Monastyrska, the leading Ukrainian opera singer herself sees it in the section “Who is…” from Opinion.
About childhood and “Russian” singer
Often, when you read new articles about Monastyrska, you can see next to her surname “Kyiv”. However, this is not actually correct, because, in reality, the singer’s homeland is not Kyiv at all.
“I was born in Cherkasy region, on the left bank of Ukraine. The village of Irkliiv. On the Internet, there is a lot of false information… Since childhood, I wanted to sing. And, apparently, God gave me such a happy opportunity – to do what I want.”
By the way, the error in the native locality of the performer is far from the only one. Sometimes she’s called… a Russian singer.
“I always emphasize that I am from Ukraine. Although sometimes I still see that they write somewhere that I’m a Russian singer, I’m from Russia. No. I’m from Ukraine, I was born here, I studied here, and my relatives live here. So I do not understand why, and on what basis it is written. This is a sign of unprofessionalism. Or, perhaps, it is done intentionally.”
About success in competitions and chances
Thinking which of those two is more important, the singer emphasizes: a chance is, of course, luck, which determines the further course of events. But if a person is not a professional, does not have a musical, human, creative basis, even the greatest luck will not contribute to success.
“I go to the stage and I have no right to make a mistake. Each time you look for the character of a part, you determine the psychological state of the heroine. Since some directors can hang artist by his or her feet above the stage or put in a hot water bath, which cools down (and a singer risks falling sick), then the error is excluded in this process! Therefore, you always need to be in good shape”.
About the future of opera
Monastyrska is, of course, an optimist on this issue. The Ukrainian woman is convinced that opera has a future in bright colors, everything will be all right because the tradition will withstand, will hold its positions.
“In general, even now everything is fine. Tradition and experiment get together. If, for example, in Germany, they often go to radical changes then in Italy in La Scala, rigorous local connoisseurs can easily boo directors and performers that deviate too far from the canons. So everything will be all right. It’s important to treat your work responsibly and honestly. And it’s better to think less about short-lasting success, about what a “star” you are.
About opera and experiments
Although the singer prefers the classical opera with its well-established canons, she admits: by signing a foreign contract on a performance of parts in shows, an artist can often face some directorial experiments.
“I’m not retrograde. The modern opera must develop taking into account the latest trends in theatrical art. At the same time, for me, there are immutable taboos in the opera, which I always adhere to. For example, it’s hard for me to imagine how it’s possible to perform on stage half naked. Therefore, in order to protect myself from such unexpected events, I carefully study the contract in order to understand with whom and how I will work “
About an impact on the audience
Each performer works with his or her spectators in different ways, makes different accents, sets priorities in a work in his own way. For Lyudmyla Monastyrska, one of the most important things in communication from the stage is, of course, her voice. However, it would be wrong to rely solely on it. The soloist of the National Opera emphasizes that it is equally important that singers live their roles through.
“Of course, different performers interpret the same parts differently. This is good and correct since everyone brings up his own design his own personality, his life experience. I don’t really love when two or three performers of the same role are compared, although I understand that this is a trait of human nature. I know for sure what it costs to do part really good so that the audience leaves the theater touched.”
About whims of stars
In fact, she doesn’t like the very notion “a star”. However, if it can be called a whim of the star, then speaking about creativity – you can express your opinion, wishes, disagree with the staging or concept of the director.
“It doesn’t mean that I declare: ‘I cancel the contract and go away! I am a star, and you are nobody here!’ No, on the contrary, one has to try to find a compromise, understand the director’s opinion, after all, for some reason it has appeared, and then understand how to reach a common denominator. The task of a performer is to try to work according to the contract, even though something went wrong. But if it reaches complete madness, then I express my opinion of course.”
About state support of opera art
The singer agrees: opera culture can’t be of a mass-scale, because it is an elitarian art. Well, not all Ukrainians have been at least once in the theater – someone has completely different tastes. However, this does not mean that authorities should forget about the opera.
“I think that there should be some kind of state support in order for people to see that our leaders also show some kind of interest in the classics. For some reason, all this was a little bit more serious… Folklore is easier to perceive, but in order to understand the opera, some background is needed. Therefore, probably, this should be cultivated since childhood. For example, my children grew up behind the scenes of our amazing children’s musical theater on Podil.”
About perfect audience
The fact that opera is certainly considered to be elitist does not mean that the singer wants to see among her listeners only some sort of “elite”. No, on the contrary, she is happy even to the unprepared public, the main thing is that it shouldn’t be indifferent.
“It is important that they have a desire to learn something for themselves and they are not ashamed to express their emotions, not ‘to save’ them. As for me, when I am in the audience as a spectator, I try to ‘penetrate’ into music, because it has a lot in it, plus it is multiplied by word, singing, playing that enhance means. I am an emotional person and I like to get an appropriate emotion.”
About singing during parties
It’s far from a typical question, and Monastyrska herself admits that she is trying to avoid it. However, there are moments when some conductors invite singers to the restaurant, and, of course, soloists are asked there to perform a song of their country.
“I have two or three favorite songs in this case – sincere, very lyric, somehow even tragic. ‘Don’t ask why my eyes are tear-stained’ is my favorite song, and it is very easy for voice.”
Also, the Ukrainian woman can let herself singing with her mother. And it’s always in two voices. She sings the second and her mother the first one because she has a higher voice.
“She has an academic voice, she sings as an opera singer, although in her youth she didn’t enter a conservatory – my grandma and her mother, wanted mom to become a teacher. My mother and I sing folklore songs that’s what we love. Well, I try not to sing during the dinner – it’s even some kind of a bad tone “
About the image of a born priestess
For the vast majority fans, Lyudmyla Monastyrska seems to be such a natural priestess. Her posture hints to a strong personality, even a certain authoritative nature. However, the artist herself admits, it’s only partially true.
“Life makes you be strong. I’ll reveal a secret: Aida’s part is no longer so attractive for me in comparison with others that are making up my current, rather solid arsenal of roles. Now I am reviewing my repertoire on the principle of reasonable saving of vocal resources since I have to resort to a certain strategy of my stage work.”
About the best place to perform
Almost every performer has the space where he or she feels most comfortable. And it’s not necessarily a main hall or a stage of the world. This, as it is often said, is a place of power. These are thoughts of Lyudmila Monastyrskaya.
“First of all, it is the National Opera, the native land with its original natural vibrations, and also the London Royal Opera is very impressive. A singer, who performed there two or three times is already treated there as a native child. They treat artists in the United States with special piety, sincere benevolence, almost like to residents of heavens. There, they’re always ready to forgive you some failures in performance if it is covered up by artistic commitment during the show. On the contrary, in this entire list Vienna and some German lands are completely different.
By Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of the material’s protagonist.