Operatic Tenor Stefan Pop Talks Ahead of St Georges Hall Appearance

Posted on 22 June 2016
By Chris High
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Acclaimed Romanian Tenor, Stefan Pop, is all set to enthral audiences this Saturday at The St George’s Hall Small Concert Room. He has won several prizes including, in 2010, Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition and the Seoul International Music Competition.
He trained at the Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca, graduating in 2010. Here he talks to PR ahead of the concert.

How old are you and where are you from? Please give me a bit of background about yourself.

I was born in Bistrita Romania. I have a strong musical background due to studying the violin for twelve years.

How did you get into opera singing? Why choose opera?

It was God and destiny. At 6, being considered a child with musical abilities, I entered the Musical School in my home town, Bisrita. I studied violin for twelve years. During the final two years, the school schedule included one class of classical singing each week and this was how I first started to sing opera.

I had been singing in the church chorus and in the chorus of the Music School since I was 12.
Starting 14 I sung traditional folk music, I loved nature and the authenticity of the Romanian countryside very much. This is how I discovered my voice. At 16 I started studying opera professionally, first at the Tudor Jarda Music High school in Bistrita and later on at the Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj Napoca, graduating here with Masters degree in 2014. I chose opera because it gave me freedom. Even if I have a score and a libretto, I can put a little bit of myself in every role. The greatest satisfaction is that each day is different.

How did you start your career? Where did you train? Where did you make your debut?

After winning most of the national singing competitions, in 2008, I made my debut as Nemorino in “L’elisir d’Amore” at the National Opera in Timisoara and in “Il Matrimonio Segretto” at the Hungarian Opera in Cluj-Napoca. In March 2009 I was invited to perform at the world premiere of “Colinda balada op. 46″ by Gyorgy Kurtag together with Transylvania Philharmonic Orchestra from Timisoara.
The international debut came in December 2009, as Alfredo in “La Traviata” at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in the famous production staged by Franco Zeffirelli. Soon it followed the debut at the Greek National Opera, also in “La Traviata”.

How did being a star of Placido Domingos’ Operalia help your career?

The members of the operalia’s jury are the directors of the well known opera houses, such as the New York Metropolitan Opera, Convent Garden the Royal Opera House, Madrid Royal Theatre, Wien Staatsoper. So it is a great opportunity for young singers to perform in front of them, not mentioned the name of Placido Domingo.

Which operas have you performed in and where? Which is your favourite?

2013 brought the debut at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as Alfredo in “La Traviata” and also the debut in the title role of “Faust” at the National Opera in Bucharest. Soon followed by other “Faust” performances at Opera Rijeka (Croatia, March 2014) and Hong Kong Cultural Center (May 2014).
Also in 2013 I was invited by Placido Domingo to perform together in the Verdi-Wagner Gala at the Arena di Verona under Daniel Oren’s baton.

In June 2014 made my debut as Rodolfo in the concert version of “La Boheme” at Salle Pleyel in Paris, alongside Patrizia Cioffi. Later on, in August 2014, also made a debut, as the Italian singer in “Der Rosenkavalier” at the renowned Salzburg Festival. Also in 2014 I sung in “La Traviata” at Opera Menorca together with Leo Nucci and Norah Amselem.

In February 2015, “Don Giovanni” at Opera Bastille, Paris, alongside a great cast under Alain Altinoglu’s baton. He took part in two major music festivals, the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland, as Don Ottavio in “Don Giovanni”, together with Tatiana Lisnic and Erwin Schrott; and the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest, Romania, in an open air concert conducted by David Crescenzi.
My favourite is always the one I am singing.

How would you describe your style of singing?

My style of singing is a little bit different because I study with Bonaldo Giaiotti and Nello Santi, the golden generation. My favourite tenor is Franco Corelli, I try to learn as much as possible when listening to him and other famous tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Franco Bonisolli or Jussi Bjorling. There is not a particular style I try to fit into, I try to pick up the best things from each of them and to improve my technique constantly.

Q: What awards/accolades have you received for your singing?
In 2010, I won two of the most important international vocal competitions just seven days apart, on two different continents: Operalia, hosted by Teatro alla Scala in Milan under the careful guidance of Maestro Placido Domingo, where I won two prizes in the same evening: the first prize and the auditorium prize.
The other was the 6th International Music Competition in Seoul, where I won the first prize.

Which famous opera stars have you performed with?

I have performed alongside some of the most important opera singers: Angela Gheorghiu, Patrizia Ciofi, Mariella Devia, Edita Gruberova, Elena Mosuc, Krassimira Stoyanova, Tatiana Lisnic, Sonya Yoncheva, Nino Machaidze, Ailyn Perez, Placido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Jose Cura, Thomas Hampson, Erwin Schrott, under the baton of Evelino Pidò, Andrea Battistoni, Daniele Gatti, Simone Young, Fabio Luisi, Antonio Pappano, Paolo Longo, Alain Antinoglu, Pablo Heras-Casado, Antonino Fogliani, Nello Santi and Luciano di Martino among others.

What do you love most about performing opera?

I like the freedom it gives me, I like the challenges and the emotions are indescribable. Each opera house presents a different and diverse production and I like that very much.

Which opera stars inspire you? Who would you most like to perform with?
It is very hard to say which opera inspires me most. Until recently, this opera was La Boheme and my dream was to perform it together Angela Gheorghiu. Now my dream came true and I want to thank her very much for her support.

What can we look forward to in your new opera performance at St George’s Hall?

This is a difficult question by my answer is simple. You should look forward to listening to Stefan Pop. I perform the concerts with open heart and I put my soul in every sound to make the audience feel great. I love the concerts, the energy is so different from an opera performance. I wish to make people happy when listening to me and I hope to accomplish this also in Liverpool.

Which works will you be performing? What is your favourite and why?

I want to keep the surprise so I will only tell you a few words about the first aria, “Questa o quella”. It’s the first aria of the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto and it is also the first aria I learned twelve years ago. It has been in my heart since then and I will always cherish it. I will also sing “Che gelida manina” from la Boheme, it’s the aria which brought me the first prize of Operalia, held at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, in 2010. It was amazing to win the best known singing competition in the world and meet the one an only Placido Domingo. There is also Granada, an aria I first performed together with Angela Gheorghiu in a concert in Shanghai.The entire program is carefully chosen for this recital, an intimate and emotional event.

Have you performed in Liverpool before? If not, Are you looking forward to visiting the city?

I have never performed in Liverpool before, but I am looking forward to being there. I am also a big fan of The Beatles!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

One of the milestones was winning Operalia and the Audience Award at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, in 2010. It was also an audition for the most prestigious opera houses in the world. Winning the Audience Award was an acknowledge of my talent. That was just the beginning of the beautiful journey in the world of opera.

What have you got planned for the future?

I will perform in Rigoletto at the Sanxey Festival in August, then Faust in Oviedo, La Traviata and Rigoletto in Venice and Naples under Maestro Nello Santi’s baton and later on I will make my debut in Lucia di Lammermour in Bologna, together with conductor Michele Mariotti

What do you love most about performing opera?

Opera is the only musical genre that can be performed without a microphone and which offers the audience a rainbow of emotions. I see this in their eyes when they come to ask for autographs after each performance. This is my biggest reward, I always perform with full dedication.

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