Talking with singers: Maria MudryakInterview
At 23, Kazakh soprano Maria Mudryak’s singing career has already brought her to the world’s great stages, to sing some of the most enviable roles in the operatic repertoire. Her training started early, with a move to Italy at the age of 10; she soon joined the children’s chorus of the Teatro alla Scala, and was later accepted into the Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Milan at just 14. She made her professional debut as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro in Genova, and has since filled her seasons with performances of Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Musetta (La bohème), Marie (La fille du régiment) and Violetta (La traviata).
We spoke with Mudryak about her exception career, and the careful attention she paid to her instrument throughout her early training.
How did you plan and pace your operatic training as a teen?
I started to sing very early – I was three years old but was singing pop music, and when I was 8 I started my operatic vocal training. When I was ten I came to Italy and enrolled at the Scuola Musicale di Milano; initially my teacher Carlo Gaifa did not want to accept me in his class, saying I was too young to start to train for opera and had never worked with such young singers, but I promised him I wouldn’t be rushing and would try to follow his instructions as best as I could. And so, with a lot of caution, we began our training with the Vaccai exercises and the “Arie antiche”.
At twelve I was accepted into the Children’s Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala where I sang in a lot of productions. At fourteen I was admitted at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan showing good results at the admission tests. Fortunately when I was a teenager I ended with good teachers who cautiously guided me through this period.
How do you balance the larger roles you’ve performed (Mimì, Violetta) with the natural development of your voice?
Since I was ten I have been regularly checked by a phoniatrist; I was aware of the characteristics and features of my voice, and so, after graduating from the Conservatory at 18, I convinced my teacher Carlo Gaifa to let me try Violetta’s aria; he did not agree at first but after hearing me he decided to teach me the aria and at twenty-two I was able to sing the whole role of Violetta Valéry (after debuting meanwhile many other roles). Singing Violetta I realized that this role suits me.
What have you learned about the singing career, solely through your professional experience?
I started to learn what singing professionally would be while I was still a student, but I acquired the greatest experience on the field, singing roles on stage.
What advice would you give to young singers who are eager to sing opera, but who want to keep their instruments healthy?
To be fully aware of your own skills and possibly sing roles that fit your vocal characteristics.
When you’re not performing or in rehearsal, how do you spend your free time?
I don’t have a lot of free time, but as soon as I have a free day even in the middle of rehearsals I try to study new roles or to take lessons from my teachers.