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Lilia Solomei: A Vocal Career

Lilia Solomei, a young soloist of the National Opera, has recently completed a training course in the Leipzig Higher School of Music and Theatre named after Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldi. Her charming lyrical coloratura soprano attracted attention during the latest edition of "Va invita Maria Biesu".

Lilia has a wide range of creative interests: from classics to jazz and the newest music of the 20th century. This charming classical Rosina and Gilda freely cooperates with "Improviz-quintet" youth company mastering Spanish ladino, jazz compositions and popular hits, and her participation in the recent Festival of New Music was quite a success.

Lilia Solomei: My mother is from Ukraine, my father, a veterinarian, is from Drochia. I started to sing at four, graduated from Chisinau musical college and then Conservatory. My teacher of singing was Svetlana Strezeva, a singer famous in her time. She taught me rigidly and exactly and developed my voice range from lyrical soprano to coloratura. I am obliged to Strezeva for precise vocal techinics and aspiration to reach perfection.

Welcome: Are you satisfied with your career?

I am an optimist by nature, I like to take part in representative concerts. A musician's life is very difficult in our country, and very few people know how we actually live. Of course, one should think about one's career, but it's important to remain decent. I don't like banquets and other noisy events.

You prefer more cameral situations?

In any theatre it is very difficult, as the working mechanism has been existing for a long time and one is unable to change anything. It would be desirable for me to work under a contract abroad and to live here, in Moldova, where I have so many friends.

And when did you get interested in modern music?

In 1993, when I risked to sing pieces by Italian composer Madsoni, very difficult for vocal interpretation. At a few festivals of New Music I performed works by Bulgarian and Finnish composers. I was shaken by Poulenc's mono-opera "The Human Voice", a piano duet brought to Chisinau by Anatoly Lapikus and Yurii Makhovich.

Indeed, it was smart and for the first time in Chisinau, and the role suits you. The story of a loving woman not loved any more, who is awaiting a telephone call. The hero of Poulenc even perishes strangled by a telephone wire. ... And it was a new and unknown Solomei, pathetic and loving.

Cocteau and Poulenc knew all the subtleties of a woman's soul and didn't hesitate to show them nakedly, bordering on sadism. The success was extraordinary! Women would come running to me in tears while men sincerely couldn't understand the passionate love of my heroine. Everything was new to me then: the genre of chamber opera, recitative singing, everything. It was an excellent vocal test. It would be great to renew it in Chisinau.

What is the difference between our vocal school and that of Germany?

It is almost imperceptible, except for a greater attention to details and requests not to force the sound. Our imperfect acoustics demands much effort in singing, and the loud orchestra and soloists not always merge in ensemble. By the way, they confirmed in Germany that the parts of Lucia and Traviatta are my repertoire, and my dream came true and at last I sing Traviatta at our theatre.

And what does this part mean to you?

This is my reference book. It's remarkable for Verdi' subtle understanding of life and love, when a woman sacrifices herself and perishes in the name of love. Besides, it is one of the most expressive soprano parts in world repertoire.

"La Traviatta" demands a good soprano and acting skills, a high degree of femininity without excessive sentimentality...

At present I'm working over this part with the help of Mikhail Sechkin, a wonderful conductor whom I admire very much. It is very important for me to show everything I've studied in Germany on the Moldovan stage. I am hoping for success.

Does your theatrical image coincide with real life?

I can't say so as in outward appearance I am a kind of a cheerful, easy-going and coquettish Rosina and at the same time I have a very vulnerable and sensitive soul. One Solomei is on stage, another in real life.

Is easiness a way of self-defense?

It was real earlier, and now it is necessary for adapting and hiding problems. But there is a great pleasure in my life - my little daughter Nicole named in honor of my father. She is very musical, too, and in many respects is similar to me.

Is the opera art elitist or democratic nowadays?

In the past it was elitist, and actors were admired and so on, but now we can hardly make ends meet. Democratization is a good thing, but there must be some kind of creative elite.

Opera prima donnas seem to lead a special romantic life and are associated with roaring ovations, oceans of flowers, admiring fans, jewelry, fur coats, press coverage (as in the West) and so on. They are reported to socialize here and there, wearing extraordinary dresses from this or that fashion house.... Do our Chisinau stars lead any special life, attend receptions or simply have a chance to chat over a cup of coffee?

I can't say we have many opportunities of chatting, moreover, we are sort of separated. It would be very pleasant and useful to organize informal events gathering vocalists of different genres as is the fashion in the world now. Such events could attract the attention of well-to-do people who might well sponsor joint performances of talented people at home and abroad.

By Elena Uzun

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