A Teatru Manoel masterclass invites members of the public to opera sessions being given by legendary soprano Mariella Devia.
On February 10, a very special kind of Teatru Manoel masterclass will be held in two sessions. Each session will be presented by Italian soprano Mariella Devia, whose name is synonymous with belcanto repertoire.
In many ways, the Teatru Manoel masterclass is also a celebration of the theatre’s upcoming production of Rossini’s Otello, which is expected to be a groundbreaking production in terms of local opera.
Both classes will in fact focus precisely on this most famous opera by Rossini, and active participants will include the cast of the production itself. However, the most innovative aspect of these masterclasses is that members of the public can also attend as viewers, in order to experience a closer look at the world of opera.
This website caught up with Madame Devia to have a chat about what she is planning.
How did your collaboration with the Manoel Theatre start?
Although I had never actually performed at the Manoel, I knew about it by reputation, of course. For some years I have been friendly with the soprano Tatiana Lisnic, who lives in Malta. And thus, through her, this collaboration was born.
Performing opera has played a very central role in your life. How does it feel to now be dedicating yourself to the development of new talent?
Without any doubt, the melodrama of opera has been one of the main pivots of my professional life. Last year I gave my farewell performance with Norma, at the Teatro La Fenice.
It was then that I decided to dedicate the majority of my time to teaching. Being on stage, living the drama…these are all excellent life lessons for an artist. Someone like me, with decades of experience, and with such a prolific belcanto repertoire, is in an ideal position to transmit knowledge to younger people.
In truth, I have been teaching for years, even though performance commitments meant that it had to be more of a sporadic activity. Now that I have more free time, I am dedicating it to teaching, both on a one-on-one basis and through masterclasses like the one I will be holding at Teatru Manoel.
Teaching is a massive responsibility and requires commitment. I have the opportunity to uncover the potential of the person in front of me, and to tackle this potential in the best way possible, helping the student master technique and interpretation. And, of course, ensuring that they stay motivated and enthusiastic. In fact, I would say this is the biggest secret to find success in our profession – commitment and a willingness to learn.
What are the biggest challenges you find as teacher?
We tend to think of a lesson as a challenge for the student. But, in reality, lessons are as much of a challenge for the teacher. The challenge here is to try and understand how far the student can go, what levels they can reach… and to make sure that they reach this level.
The challenge is also to make that student feel comfortable even upon encountering difficulties. And to pull the brakes in case of over-enthusiasm that can threaten proper development. And, of course, to help them learn from their mistakes.
How will the upcoming masterclasses help participating artists?
The classes will be of help regardless of the level of experience or knowledge, because it’s about being open to suggestions and new ideas.
Why the focus on Rossini, and will the masterclasses refer to the upcoming staging of Otello at the Teatru Manoel in March?
I hold Rossini very dear, and Otello is one of the finest examples, with a dramaturgy as dark as any work by Bellini or Donizetti. It is also an opera that demands a great deal of the voice, in the best tradition of belcanto. I have interpreted this opera a few times, and I am very familiar with the challenges it presents. I’m hoping to contribute by imparting this knowledge to the participants.
Mariella Devia will be holding Masterclasses at the Teatru Manoel on February 10.
Masterclass 1 takes place between 11am and 1.30pm and will focus on specific arias from Rossini’s Otello. The active participants will be singers from Teatru Manoel’s own production of this opera.
Masterclass 2 takes place between 6.30pm and 9pm and will focus on Rossini’s work in general. Active participants will be 10 opera singers.
Members of the public can attend both masterclasses as viewers. Ticket price: €10 per Masterclass. Tickets are available by clicking here.
If you’d like to read more about the culture scene in Malta, check out this post about this artists residency in Gozo, or this intriguing Panto in the Dark, or the Salvaged Beginnings collection by Parascandolo.