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Nazan Fikret

Interview

1. What was the first piece(s) you learned? Was it inevitable you would be a singer as a consequence of your early tuition?

The first piece of music I ever learned, was in a music classes aged 6, a nursery rhyme I believe. My teacher was a flautist and apparently I sang along perfectly in-tune and she alerted my parents of my talent. However, nothing was obvious at that stage at all.

2. Is your family musical?

Goodness no! Which is actually lovely because it is important not to talk about music all the time, plus I was never pressurised as a young girl to sing.

3. Which famous singers do you admire? Why?

I am inspired by Rebecca Evans (soprano), who is a really nice lady and a really talented singer, as well as having a family too. She has managed all areas of her life, which proves it can be done. Similarly, Marie Mclaughlin, who has done the same. I worked with both of these ladies, in TOTS and was very inspired!

4. You made your operatic debut at the tender age of 13 as Flora in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for Elijah Moshinsky. How do you remember that momentous day for you?

You know, I was probably too young to appreciate the magnitude of what I was doing. At that point I couldn’t read music and it was a bit scary from that perspective and a little intimidating. However, by the first night I knew what I was doing and all the adults around me were wonderful and supportive.

5. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

My fondest memories are during the Aix en Provence Luc Bondy production of Screw, in summer 2001. I was there for 3 months nearly and was exposed to the life of an opera singer on tour. It was exciting, new and meant that I shared accomodation with 3 other children and it was a real adventure. In my adult performing life, getting on the ENO stage for the first time was amazing!

6. Can you tell us about of your time in the Guildhall School of Music from which you graduated in 2010?

My undergraduate degree at the Guildhall was a real rollarcoaster ride. High’s, low’s and the inbetweens, as might be expected with conservatoire education. I had a lovely year group however and a fabulous teacher, Penelope Mackay (as well as great teaching staff) and was exposed to many new aspects of classical music. As I progressed through the school, I realised how long a journey an opera singer’s training is. Having started at 18, it wasn’t really until my 4th year that real progress could be heard vocally; I was pleased to finish with a high 1st class degree, as I certainly worked hard.

7. You continue your studies at the school, on the part-time Masters programme and will complete your final year under the tutelage of Yvonne Kenny. How is it like to study under this person?

Yvonne Kenny is, like Rebecca Evans and Marie Mclaughlin, one of the true inspirational singers. She is a wonderful lady, with oodles of experience and has pretty much all the roles imaginable in her repertoire. Her teaching is thorough and she is firm but supportive and makes sure I am always challenged. I definitely have the best singing teacher for me and am pleased to complete my studies with her. Furthermore, I will continue to study with her post gsmd life!

8. You made your English National Opera debut in 2007 with the role, in David McVicar’s South Bank Show Award winning production. Can you tell us more about this important juncture in your life?

I very nearly didn’t do this production, as the initial rumour was that they wanted a young, of a child’s age, to do the role. However, I auditioned anyway and was delighted when they decided to go down the ‘sulky, tantrum teen Flora’ (quote from a review) and chose me. It was a vital point in my career-my solo debut in England, as most of my work was in Europe until then and was excellent exposure. I learnt so much and have made fantastic contacts and fantastic memories from this time. I also went on to sing in the revival in 2009 and on tour to Madrid in 2010.

9. You made your oratorio debut singing the Soprano solo in Haydn’s Creation for the Chipperfield Choral Society in March 2011. Can you tell us more of this special moment as well please?

Well, this was far scarier than singing at the ENO believe it or not!? It was my first oratorio as you say and having been used to long rehearsal periods, to suddenly only rehearse on the day prior to performance was alarming. A great experience, with great other singers in the other roles. It was also the first time my partner heard me sing, so it will always be special.

10. If you could do a duet with anybody alive or dead, who would that dream partner be?

Good question! well, one of the nicest people I ever met and one of the most talented English tenors of all time is the late Philip Langridge. He was a friend of mine and his wife too and I am so in awe of his career. I sang with him in The turn of the Screw in Holland, however our characters never meet on-stage, so to sing a duet with him would be fab! A Britten duet for soprano and tenor perhaps...

11. You worked with many prolific professors, including Iain Burnside in concert, production and on BBC Radio 3. How was it like to work with Iain in this performance?

Iain is fantastic and a brilliant pianist and inspiring man to work with. He has many an idea and is always very well researched and specific about what he wants. It was always challenging and stimulating to work with him because we were required to work very hard at all times, with high energy. This is a work ethic I support and appreciate very much.

12. What advice would you give to those who wish to embark on a professional concert music career? Is this your own vision for your future?

I haven’t done an awful lot of concert work, namely because of my educational commitments and opera work. Also, I think it is hard to make money from concerts alone, particularly for a singer. Early on at guildhall, we were told that most of the work in this era is in opera. Concert work often follows once you have an established career or a recognised name perhaps! I would certainly like to do some more concert work and plan to set up a quartet with friends of mine, although it is early days. Furthermore, I plan to organise some concerts when I leave gmsd, to keep performing, earn some money, work for charity and to keep up repertoire learning. I would say, in the few concerts I have organised; it is hard work and very rewarding if done thoroughly. However, one must be thorough and super organised!

13. How often and for how long do you practice?

This varies, depending on how busy things are. For example, if I am rehearsing for an opera and singing all day, it is vocally taxing to do private practise on top of that. Or, after a full day of classes at gsmd, having sung all day. I do try to sing every day in some capacity, even if it is in the shower. Consciously practising, on the average day, I suppose 40 mins-hour ish. But that excludes all the translating, research and other things associated with practise...

14. Do you or would you like to teach music?

I have taught a little, at my old stage school and privately for one student. I also did a a great teaching module in my 4th year and learnt lots. I would like to teach more, however feel that my piano skills are limiting sometimes. I also feel that I might be a better teacher when I am older, as I might have more wisdom to impart. At this stage I would only teach beginners/ moderate level.

15. How do you balance your music with other obligations? What are the biggest sacrifices?

It is tricky. Perfect example actually, is my friends wedding which is coming up soon. I am rehearsing for Garsington in the morning prior to her service and desperately hoping to making it back on-time. Schedules change, there is rarely a set routine and one must accept that to survive. I have a fab family and friends and boyfriend who understand and support this though. So it is really one step at a time and when I have to make sacrifices, I do, within reason.

16. Would you be open to an offer of performing in the future in your father’s native Turkey?

I would love to perform in Turkey and would love to make contact with Turkish opera houses. my father is actually Cypriot, but of course it is still my heritage. My only concern is my basic children’s Turkish!!

17. Do you listen to ‘world music’, how wide is you taste in music genres?

I have to say that in my spare time, outside of singing and performing, I rarely listen to music. Namely because I need some quiet! If I do, it tends to be Motown and soul music and some musical theatre. I do have a wide taste in music genre and will always respect music if performed to a high standard by great artists. I haven’t listened to much world music of yet though.

18. You have been offered the role of Ninetta and chorus, for Garsington Opera’s production of Offenbach’s La Perichole for the 2012 season. Are there any other future projects in the pipeline?

There are a few, potentially 2 really exciting things, but I don’t want to jinx them by writing them down! Until I have signed on that dotted line so to speak! :)

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