Talking with singers: Kiandra Howarth
After singing the role in the 2013 Salzburg Festival, Australian soprano Kiandra Howarth is set to reprise Konstanze in The Grange Festival's upcoming production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, June 24 to July 7. Howarth is an alumna of the young artist programmes at Opera Australia, the Royal Opera House, and the Salzburg Festival Young Singer's Project, and Mozart's soprano roles make up a significant piece of her season calendar.
We spoke with Howarth about this notoriously challenging role, and the show that firt sparked her love of opera.
Why do you sing professionally?
It was after seeing my first opera, Puccini's Tosca at nine years of age that I knew I wanted to sing professionally. It has been my passion ever since and I am so grateful to my family, friends and teachers who have been a part of this exciting journey to date.
The freedom and joy performing provides when I am able to connect with an audience so deeply and completely is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered. I have to remind myself everyday how lucky I am to be living my dream!
What do you know now about the singing career that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
Focusing primarily on vocal development and learning to wait before attempting the more dramatic, challenging repertoire is something I wish that I had heard that more often during my formative studies. Knowing your limits both artistically and personally has been key for me. There are always exciting opportunities that arise, however I feel that knowing when to say "no" is paramount.
How do you stay healthy and sane while traveling for work?
The nomadic lifestyle, whilst extremely exciting can often become tiring especially if you aren't able to spend time at home with family. I have been quite fortunate over the past few years to have at least one or two jobs which take me back to Australia to spend time with my family. I also like to keep busy with yoga!
What do you think is uniquely demanding about the role of Konstanze?
The role of Konstanze demands much more vocal and mental stamina than, say, the parts of Donna Anna or Fiordiligi. For me Konstanze has been a very welcome challenge, not least because of the strenuous back-to-back aria marathon in act 2 ("Traurigkeit" and "Martern aller Arten"). The technical demands, emotional colour and style of these two arias could not be more different, which I must admit has been the most demanding part of this role for me.
What do you think Mozart's Entführung says about the romantic relationships between men and women?
In his Entführung, Mozart has created a world in which so many forms of love exist and intertwine, that I feel it is possibly his most remarkable work on that basis. One sees not only the profound love between Konstanze and Belmonte, but also the more playful love shared by Pedrillo and Blonde. These couples are also challenged by the infatuation Osmin has for Blonde and the deep love Pasha Selim develops for Konstanze throughout the piece. At the very end of the opera it is surprisingly the Pasha Selim's generosity that brings about a happy ending for the pair of lovers.
The Grange Festival's production of The Abduction from the Seraglio runs June 24 to July 7. For details and tickets, click here.