Salzburg’s Young Singers Get ‘a Crash Course in Being a Professional’

Mauro Peter was a fourth-year music scholar in Munich when he obtained a name inviting him to audition for the Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project — a two-month coaching program held in Mozart’s birthplace each summer season. The reply was sure, and Mr. Peter was one among 16 trainees in 2012.

The Swiss tenor’s profession has taken off since then. Having made his Royal Opera debut as Tamino in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in 2017, he sang the position finally 12 months’s Salzburg Festival. This 12 months, he has a solo recital on one of many essential Salzburg live performance levels on Aug. 20.

The Young Singers Project is “a crash course in being an expert,” Mr. Peter stated. He described this system as two “loopy months” of studying, rehearsing and performing, “so intense that you just perhaps solely realized half a 12 months later what you achieved.”

“It was the primary time I skilled this sort of tempo and strain.”

If, as a singer, you survive the high-octane course, he added, “then you realize that there’s something there which you’ll work with.”

In the 11 years because it welcomed its top notch, the Young Singers Project has hosted 157 younger singers from 41 international locations. (Included within the complete are this 12 months’s 13 younger singers from 11 international locations.) Trainees get their very own residences and, of their spare time, drive to the picturesque lakes on the outskirts of Salzburg.

Not that there’s a lot time to be spared. Looking again on his personal summer season expertise, Mr. Peter recalled: “You couldn’t depend to 10, and the day was over. You fell into your mattress and had been exhausted. But it was factor.”

The ultimate live performance for final 12 months’s Young Singers Project.CreditMarco Borrelli/Salzburg Festival

The schedule goes one thing like this: There are two or three classes a day — singing, performing, language teaching — six days every week. Trainees be taught new repertoire and rehearse and carry out within the pageant’s youngsters’s opera. A fortunate few take part in that season’s essential opera manufacturing.

They additionally attend grasp lessons with opera greats. This 12 months’s lecturers embrace the Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and the German mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig.

Ms. Ludwig made her Salzburg Festival debut in 1954 and carried out with conductors together with Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan earlier than retiring in 1994. She stated in an electronic mail that she began instructing the grasp lessons roughly 10 years in the past, as a result of she “at all times liked” the pageant and carried out there extensively throughout her profession.

She stated individuals had been rigorously chosen from everywhere in the world, including that “all have glorious singing approach: I solely assist them with their interpretation.”

“Most of all, I wish to cross on what I realized from the good conductors,” she stated.

The program is commonly an efficient springboard for budding abilities. Last 12 months, the Belgian soprano Emma Posman discovered herself on the principle stage — as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” — when the star of the present fell unwell. As she later advised Belgium’s VRT Radio, she was performing some Saturday afternoon purchasing in Salzburg when she was summoned by the opera firm, and he or she had solely three hours to rehearse for that night’s efficiency. She handed the take a look at, and went on to sing the position at Berlin’s Komische Oper this 12 months.

A 2015 alumna, Christina Gansch, made her debut on the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and on the San Francisco Opera. And the 2017 alumnus Vasilisa Berzhanskaya has gone on to carry out title roles on the Deutsche Oper in Berlin.

Mr. Peter had the same trajectory. The 12 months after finishing his summer season program, he stated, he was given three concert events on the large Salzburg stage, in addition to a minor half in a matinee efficiency the place he sang a brief aria. For the primary time in his profession he obtained media consideration, which he needed to learn to cope with.

Mauro Peter, proper, as Tamino with Klaus Maria Brandauer, middle, as Grossvater throughout a costume rehearsal of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in Salzburg final 12 months. Mr. Peter, a tenor, was a trainee within the Young Singers Project in 2012.CreditLeonhard Foeger/Reuters

Other younger singers not fortunate sufficient to get Salzburg Festival dates or sure onto main world levels be part of an opera firm ensemble, or turn into a freelancer and do what many budding singers do: give as many recitals as doable, write to expertise companies looking for to be signed on and audition loads.

What makes it tough these days is that opera is a crowded subject, Ms. Ludwig stated.

“After World War II, there have been solely German singers in Germany,” she stated. She realized singing from her mom, made her performing debut at age 18 on the Frankfurt Opera and joined the corporate that very same 12 months.

“Today, singers come from everywhere in the world,” she famous. “That is why it’s so rather more tough.”

Mr. Peter stated the Salzburg program was not solely a possibility for creative enchancment, but in addition an opportunity to learn to deal with different features of a singing profession — reminiscent of how to deal with competitors.

During his program, he recalled, he was one among 4 younger singers to be solid for a minor half in that summer season’s manufacturing of “The Magic Flute.” Some fellow college students had been joyful for him and stated they seemed ahead to the present; others had a tougher time. Mr. Peter stated he realized that to maneuver ahead within the occupation, he had to determine the way to cope with competitors. It was essential “to not be bitter about it,” he stated, and “not look left and proper at who’s getting what,” as a result of lacking out on a component “occurs to everybody, no matter what stage” of their careers they’re in.

Even for these younger singers for whom alternatives come fast and quick, the occupation is hard, he stated.

“In the top, it’s important to step up and be on stage and rock the factor and carry out,” he stated. “If you go into the enterprise and count on numerous assist, that’s a bit too naïve. You can count on some assist, however it’s important to do loads your self.”

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