Christian Baldini: When did you decide to become an opera singer?
Galina Orlova: When I was a little girl, I remember hearing opera singers on the radio at home. My mother would take us to performances in Minsk at the Bolshoi Opera House of Belarus. As a little girl, I loved to see the women come to the theater in beautiful evening dresses, and men in tuxedos. Hearing the opera singers seemed to be something fantastic, even unreal. How can a human sing like that? I believed that opera singers were people from heaven, or they had kind of device built into their throats so that they can make such sounds ...))) lol.
Since infancy, I have absorbed beautiful music. My mother was the first one to teach me to sing; we sang together often at church. She passed away a few years ago, and it has been hard to sing on without her.
Despite the fact that I dreamed of becoming a surgeon, I loved music so much. The opera pulled me like a magnet, and one day I embraced the goal to become an opera singer. I knew it is a very complicated art-- just right for me! I love the challenge of the impossible .... lol. As I began to study opera in more detail, I began to love it even more and more. Opera is not just singing, not just acting or a movie. It is an entire life that the characters experience on stage, a whole era, with all its beauty, pain and passion. I really love what I do!
-Why is opera important to you? In your opinion, is this art form relevant and necessary in today's world?
Opera is an elite art. Out of 50 audience members, only 1 may really love this art form. The remaining 49 come to the theater to understand this art and touch something high and inaccessible.
We live in the time of fast-food, but opera is like eating in an expensive Italian restaurant, where you will taste the chef's masterpieces. Of course, opera is a very complex art, and the singer must be intellectual, have an exceptional voice and solid vocal technique, as well as acting skills to portray the character, have a great appearance and have a special talent to convey to the public the plans of the composer. This is all very complicated...
Opera is an absolute--a thing of great beauty imparted to us, and touching it can only make a person better. Yes, opera is in a realm to itself and remains the highest, sometimes even incomprehensible art.
This is a very solemn, massive, expensive thing! The opera is not designed for a quick effect, but for long contemplation. So a city with an opera company is a high-level city. Theater is something that cannot be carried on a flash drive--it is a live experience with a direct emotional connection between the viewer and the singer.
Nowadays, theater directors offer innovative productions, and they are very modern. I believe opera will never become obsolete, just like expensive Swiss watches that do not feature new-fangled digital displays, and just like the most expensive supercars that are not intended to be economical, practical or affordable. Just like an expensive classic tuxedo, opera will remain elite and ageless.
Opera unites generations: it will become very popular and prestigious among the younger generation. Therefore, through my love of opera, and my singing, I would like to show the beauty and meaning of this art.
-What are some fun anecdotes you can share with us about being a singer, whether in rehearsals, lessons, or professional experiences?
-Very often in my life, like in the life of other musicians, funny and curious situations occur during rehearsals, and especially during performances. I want to share what occurred recently. A couple of years ago, I sang Handel’s aria, "Rejoice greatly," from Messiah with an orchestra and choir. That evening we performed the entire oratorio. An orchestra and choir were behind me. My professor stood at the end of the auditorium and observed how beautifully the choir sang. And suddenly, during my singing, he abruptly ran to the stage, to the frightened response of the conductor and bewilderment in public. I could not understand what was happening and panicked, but continued to sing all the melismas ...)))) I even thought that I was singing wrong or in the wrong language ...) ))) It turned out that one of the singers in the choir had fainted. Thank God all was well with her. But this moment made me understand how important it is to stay focused in performance, and to be prepared for all situations.
I also want to share one more funny thing. Once at a concert I had exactly two minutes to go backstage and change my dress. I left the stage and quickly changed my dress. I was ready to go out to perform the following song, and I was already on the stage as the musicians played the introduction, when the thought struck me: did I zip up the dress?
Honestly, this thought tormented me during my performance singing, mixed with thoughts about the song and vocal technique. I will never forget the feelings that overwhelmed me. So now I check 10 times whether the dress is zipped before going on stage.