The next generation of operatic superstars will take centre stage with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for the INO Studio Opera Gala on Friday 9th August at the National Concert Hall - INO Studio and Outreach Producer James Bingham writes for Culture about a very special evening of new opera talent.
Raw talent can be a delicious concept. Earlier this year, South African Uber driver Menzie Mngoma has become the latest viral sensation when a video of his rendition of Verdi's La donna è mobile was filmed by a passenger and gained well over half a million views online. Mngoma has had no formal training and his voice is certainly impressive, but as Stephen Moss concluded in The Guardian last month, ‘Singing chunks of La donna è mobile in the front of a cab does not mean you are yet ready to perform in Rigoletto at La Scala.’
Professional opera singers are like Olympic athletes: certain elements of their physicality may give them a natural ability to perform well, but Michael Phelps didn’t become the most decorated Olympian by simply having really long arms. The road to success in opera is a long and tough one. A typical singer will spend at least five or six years in formal education with many more studying for up to a decade.
Unlike playing an instrument, the vast majority of the vocal work a singer does cannot be seen as it’s literally happening inside them. To make things even trickier, the sound that we hear when we sing can be very different to the sound others hear. We’ve all cringed when we’ve heard a recording back of our own speaking voice. Think about that next time you’re at the karaoke…
Professional opera singers are like Olympic athletes: certain elements of their physicality may give them a natural ability to perform well, but Michael Phelps didn't become the most decorated Olympian by simply having really long arms.
On top of that, singers are expected to learn music in a language they may not speak themselves and pronounce and perform their music convincingly, in costume on stage, with a director, conductor, stage manager and choreographer all feeding them information to incorporate into their performance. It’s a demanding exercise both physically and mentally which, even for the most naturally gifted, is not something you can learn overnight by any stretch of the imagination.
Irish National Opera is committed to developing emerging talent through the INO Studio programme. Each year, INO works with a collection of artists (singers as well as conductors, directors, composers, répétiteurs) who have already begun their journey in the world of opera. Over the course of a year, INO offers an intensive course of training in the form of coaching sessions, masterclasses with international operatic talent and opportunities to perform in Irish National Opera productions.
August 9th will see the culmination of a year’s work in the INO Studio in the form of a gala concert with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at the National Concert Hall with some of INO’s studio singers (Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Rachel Croash and Andrew Gavin) as well as this year’s INO Studio conductor, Sinead Hayes. The artists have been preparing intensively for this performance on repertoire meticulously chosen to showcase the very best of their artistic ability. The evening will culminate in the rarely performed but extraordinary sextet from Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, in which two Tudor queens enter into a fiery vocal duel. It will be the most exhilarating end to an amazing year of music-making at the INO Studio.
Hear the next generation of operatic superstars take centre stage with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for the INO Studio Opera Gala on Friday 9 August at the National Concert Hall - find out more here.