Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Interview: SLO Young Divas Sachika Ito and Marlena Devoe



We have a chat with the two new leading ladies of the Singapore Lyric Opera's upcoming double bill of Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi. Young, beautiful and talented, Japanese Sachika Ito and New Zealander Marlena Devoe look set to sparkle on the stage of our Esplanade Theatre when the production runs next week (10 to 12 Sep, Thursday to Saturday). Here's their respective introductions, followed by what we talked about:


Sachika Ito
Nedda / Nella (soprano)

Sachika Ito graduated in opera singing and chamber music with a certificate of honour. She won the 3rd prize in the Competition for Young Singers of Foggia and the 2nd prize at the Concorso G.Poggi in Piacenza, the Certaman New Voices Ciudad de Sevilla.

She has performed with soprano Maria Laura Groppi in Conservatiorio Nicolini in Piacenza since 2004. Her notable main roles include Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Elvira in Rossini’s L'Italiana, Frasquita in Bizet's Carmen, Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Serpina in Paisiello’s La Serva Padrona, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Sofia in Rossini’s Bruschino Signor, Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme, Adina in Donizetti's Elisir d’amore and Countess of Folleville in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. Sachika has recently started singing modern and contemporary music with various composers.

The Mad Scene: Tell us, in your own words, which character in this doublebill production are you playing, and what does she do in the opera?

Sachika Ito: I’m playing Nedda in Pagliacci and Nella in Gianni Schicchi. Nedda is a traveling actress, wife of Canio (Pagliacci) but is in love with Silvio, a farmer from the village where they will perform at. She decides to leave her husband and her career for a new life with Silvio, but her desire is not realized because Canio discovers their secret.

Nella is the wife of Gherardo, mother of Gherardino. She is concerned about her inheritance from of her recently deceased uncle Buoso Donati, just like all her other relatives. They ask Gianni Schicchi (a trickster) for help in rewritting the will of Buoso.



The Mad Scene: How do you relate to your character? Is she similar to you in any way?

Sachika Ito: I don’t want to cause any misunderstanding, but Nedda is very similar to me. She is an artist, a dreamer, is passionate, strong and clumsy. I love her because she knows herself and really believes in love, to the point of sacrificing her life.

Nella is married and has a child. So it is obvious that she is interested in the inheritance of her uncle. But I would say that in life I have not had the same situation, thankfully!

The Mad Scene: Tell us about your beginnings; what made you decide to pursue classical/operatic singing as a career?

Sachika Ito: Even as a child I loved to sing. I sang in a choir of children where I met a director who taught me and got me to try to become a soloist. I went to Italy when I was 20 years old where I studied in the conservatory. I then started singing in operas and concerts!

The Mad Scene: What is the first significant opera role you have ever played, and what was that experience like?

Sachika Ito: My first role is Oscar in Un ballo in maschera by Verdi. It was one of the most exciting and important in my life.

The Mad Scene: What are your favourite opera roles or oratorio parts?

Sachika Ito: Violetta in La Traviata and Nedda in Pagliacci.

The Mad Scene: If vocal range does not matter, what operatic roles would you like to perform, and why?

Sachika Ito: I would sing Figaro in Barbiere di Siviglia. He is a "Largo Factotum”, a superman who can do everything!

The Mad Scene: How has your experience working with the SLO so far?

Sachika Ito: am very honored to work with them, they are all professional but also very friendly. To perform an opera is very complicated and it takes a lot of patience. But I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience for us and for the audience!



Marlena Devoe
Lauretta (soprano) 

Winner  of  the  Joan  Sutherland  and  Richard Bonynge  Bel  Canto  Award,  New  Zealand  born Samoan  soprano  Marlena  Devoe  also  won  the Richard  Bonynge  Award  and  the  Tait  Memorial Prize.  She  completed  her  MA  in  Advanced  Vocal Studies  with  Distinction  at  the  Wales  International Academy  of  Voice,  studying  with  Nuccia  Focile  and Dennis  O’Neill.  Her  roles  included  Mimì  in Puccini’s La Bohème.

Prior  to  her  studies  in  Cardiff  studied  at  the University  of  Auckland,  Marlena  Devoe  graduated with  a  degree  in  Italian  and  German.  Following  a language  exchange  programme  in  Florence,  she studied  at  the  Manhatten  School  of  Music  in  New York.

In Masterclasses, she has worked with Rebecca Evans, Dame Della Jones, Dame Kiri te  Kanawa, Nelly Miricioiu, Ann Murray DBE, Virginia Zeani,  Richard  Bonynge  and David  Gowland.  Concert  engagements  have included performances alongside Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Andrea Bocelli, Jonathan Lemalu and Simon O’Neill.

In  2013,  she  attended  the  Georg  Solti  Accademia  di  Bel  Canto, which  led  to  an invitation  to  sing  Adina  in  Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore  at  the  2014 Verbier Festival aconducted by Jésus Lopez‐Cobos.

The Mad Scene: Tell us, in your own words, which character in this double bill production are you playing, and what does she do in the opera?

Marlena Devoe: I am singing the role of Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi's daughter. She is motivated by her love for Rinuccio and does everything in her power to ensure that she marries the love of her life.

The Mad Scene: How do you relate to your character? Is she similar to you in any way?

Marlena Devoe: Lauretta is loyal, romantic, impulsive and certainly has a flair for the dramatic...so quite similar to myself! Haha...

The Mad Scene: Tell us about your beginnings; what made you decide to pursue classical/operatic singing as a career?

Marlena Devoe: Although I started singing when I was at primary school, I only started serious classical training when I started University. But I had quite a musical upbringing (I played the flute and piano, participated in all the school musicals, sang at church, joined the New Zealand Secondary Schools Choir, joined Opera Factory) and I think that influenced my taste in music.

The Mad Scene: What is the first significant opera role you have ever played, and what was that experience like?

Marlena Devoe: My first professional operatic role was singing Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito with the Auckland Opera Studio. I was young and so enthusiastic, and after this experience, I realized that opera was definitely what I wanted to do with my life.

The Mad Scene: What are your favourite opera roles or oratorio parts?

Marlena Devoe: My favorite operas are all Bel Canto operas - anything by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi. My dream role, which I was fortunate enough to perform in New Zealand last year, is Lucia from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti.

The Mad Scene: If vocal range does not matter, what operatic roles would you like to perform, and why?

Marlena Devoe: I would want to be a dramatic spinto and sing all of the larger dramatic Verdian roles. Aida, Desdemona from Otello, the Leonoras from Il Trovatore sand La Forza del Destino. I suppose you always want the voice that you don't have.

The Mad Scene: How has your experience working with the SLO so far?

Marlena Devoe: My experience with Singapore Lyric Opera has been fantastic. The staff and cast are all so incredibly lovely and very welcoming. I hope I can sing for them again!



Get your tickets for the SLO's double bill at SISTIC!

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