APRIL 22 - 28, 2011 By Saskia Constantinou SASKIA’S CHOICE 73 AROUND THE WORLD Marvellous Margarita The Cypriot diva will be performing at next month’s Pharos International Chamber Festival ard work does pay off! Build a strong foundation, educate yourself musically and don’t be misled into believing in instant stardom, and you will create a solid career in the future.” Fine words of wisdom and advice for young singers from Cyprus’ diva Margarita Elia, whose voice literally sends shivers of excitement down one’s spine. Margarita will performing at the Pharos International Chamber Festival and between a hectic rehearsal schedule and teaching, found time to linger over a cappuccino. “From the age of fifteen and my first voice lessons, I knew this was going to be my career. I was fortunate to have the successful opera singer Arlene Randazzo spend endless hours teaching me bel canto technique. She also was instrumental in instilling belief in myself. I’ve also been inspired by a seemingly endless list of singers for differing reasons – Kirsten Flagstad for the purity, beauty and power combined with exquisite musicianship, Montserrat Caballe and Mariella Devia for their inspiring command of bel canto…and I can just keep going on. Each artist has inspired and influenced me in my technical, stylistic and dramatic approach to vocal music.” Margarita studied in Hungary but had her first big break with the Surrey Opera singing Queen of the Night. “It was a cast of wonderful singers, a great stage director and an experienced conductor. I also became accustomed to being on a different stage each night through the tour.” Voices change and develop throughout a career. “Yes, I am more aware of my abilities, and of my limitations, too. I understand how it works, and think my tone is more matured, warmer and mellower. My experience has also given me confidence on the stage.” Margarita’s repertoire is large, continually expanding and quite diverse, and she finds herself inspired in different ways. “Handel’s Alcina or Lucia, Anna Bolena, Norma – they all have something different either from extraordinary technical demands or because of the depth of dramatic “ H Benjamin Grosvenor Margarita Elia sensitivity required to bring it to life. The diverse stylistic approach in interpretation which is also a welcome challenge. Diction is the only way to deliver the verbal message which is inextricably attached to the musical one. This requires dedicated work and practice, and is helped by a mastery of different languages. Many singers are now multilingual and so bring a deep understanding of the text or libretto to the part which transpires with each performance. Singing in the original text is ideal as it very often forms the inspiration for the creation of the music itself.” Our conversation turns to the importance of having an opera house on the island. Pragmatically, she replies: “First and foremost, we need to alter people’s perception of art music being highly elitist. Educating children plays a fundamental role through outreach and educational programmes. Making classical music more accessible to a wider audience is a matter of bring- ing down the barriers of negative stereotypes and opening the doors to the theatrical experience.” Margarita, in addition to an international performing schedule, is a university professor and considers adaptability and flexibility key factors in teaching today. “Understanding each individual’s specific needs, background and personality and helping them realise their potential without oppressing their true nature is vital. Being in a private university has also given me the opportunity to teach individual lessons, opera history classes, vocal diction and performance practice and the research in preparing these classes has often helped me to widen my own horizons.” Margarita is modest about her many achievements and is always open to new experiences. “I want to keep things fresh and exciting and feel as optimistic, and happy for each project as I do now – with lots of new musical adventures.” Everybody was amazed by the young, 18-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor when he was invited for a recital by the Pharos Arts Foundation recently. He now has another accolade as the youngest British artist to ever be signed up by Decca Classics in an exclusive contract. He follows greats such as Clifford Curzon, Moura Lympany and Peter Katin, who first graced the label in the 1940s and 50s. Managing Director of Decca classics Paul Moseley said: “This is an enormously significant moment for Decca. As a British company proud of its heritage, what could be more satisfying than making this agreement with the most exceptional British pianist to emerge in decades? Benjamin has evolved from a child prodigy to become an artist of extraordinary imagination and flair. Above all, he has a sound that is all his own. We are thrilled and look forward to many landmark projects together.” COMPETI T ION Win tickets to the Pha ros concert send an e mail to saskia@cy tanet.com .cy with the answe r to this q uestion: Who are th e three art ists the Cypru s Piano Tri of o? LOCAL EVENTS The International Pharos Chamber Music progra programme will include Mozart, Arensky DON’ Festival will begin with a piano recital T and a fantastic arrangement for string trio M I SS Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Be part of of Beethoven Piano Sonatas by Paavali of Ba IT this internationally renowned festival which Jumppanen on May 6 at the Shoe Factory, in Nicosia. The festival, now in its 11th year, attract over 2,000 visitors annually. Guided attracts will then move to the Royal Manor House, by a vision visionary spirit and dedicated to artistic Kouklia on May 24 for five consecutive nights of ts excellence and innovation, the festival makes the high art of chamber music accessible with fine chamber music led by highly spirited and talented Daishin Kashimoto, concertmaster of performances of the highest standards. Tickets the Berlin Philharmonic. The varied and balanced are available from www.pharostickets.org or by telephone 7000 9304 9304. Although seemingly far away, it is a good idea to diarise June 2. The legendary jazz pianist Bruce Barth will join forces with bassist Flo Moore and drummer Stephen Keogh at the Shoe Factory, Nicosia for an unforgettable programme of authentic jazz tunes. Book online now – www. pharostickets.org or call 7000 9303. Booking is essential as seats are extremely limited.