Vesselina Katsarova: Anyone may attend my master class

Within two weeks in 1991 I learnt Tancredi, nearly lost my voice but stood up and sang, relates world's No.1 mezzo-soprano

Any Bulgarian singer who would like to attend my international master class may do it, just come to the hall where it will be held from 27 August to 6 September, said in Stara Zagora world’s No.1 mezzo-soprano Vesselina Katsarova. To this moment she has received 15 applications from foreign singers who would like to get practical and theoretical instructions for their future work from the prima who sang over 60 parts on all the greatest scenes around the globe and released over 50 discs with her performances.

She declared her decision to hold a master class in her native country over a year ago. The idea dawned on director of Stara Zagora opera troupe Ognyan Draganov who set out to do the groundwork for the event. On 27 August there will be an audition of a kind, then the names of the lucky ones will be announced with whom Katsarova, her accompanist, pianist Boyana Lambreva, and vocal coach Nikolay Handzhiev will be working “eye-to-eye” for about ten days.

It came as a surprise to Vesselina Katsarova that there have been no Bulgarians among the applicants (at least for now) but she explains it by lack of information. She is prepared to open widely the doors of her study hall, however the prima sets one condition – no one should join her master class by force.

“I would like to share my knowledge with my compatriots. To tell them how to work with voice, conductors, directors… This is what they will never find in textbooks. Very few of the great singers work as vocal coaches as well (at least so it is abroad.) I know very few, among them was the coach of Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni”, comments the prima and underscores that she will work with each student in person.

“It has been 30 years now since I am on the Big Stage and what has always been most difficult to me was perhaps to stay faithful to my own self, remain the person I am. You may be a great talent but you have to work incessantly to succeed. Besides, you must be fully aware that you are not irreplaceable. I had a tremendous stroke of luck in 1991 when I was invited to perform the part of Tancredi in Rossini’s opera by the same name.

The invitation came from Gerard Mortier, director of the musical festival in Salzburg. He ran into me in the street and asked me directly, “Vessi, will you sing in Tancredi because Marilyn Horne turned down this role?” I agreed at once without any second thoughts. I was too young and had no idea what was in store for me. It turned out that the vocal score was a volume of 500 pages. I got prepared within two weeks with an Italian coach with whom we worked six hours a day. I nearly lost my voice but in the long run it was a success.

I have always stressed that every singer has to listen to classical music, to upgrade their fantasy with instrumental music, not only singing. I never stop doing it and go on working on my voice every day,” says the prima who turned 53 on 18 July.

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