We caught up with mezzo-soprano Marvic Monreal, to give us an insight into her career and her participation in Teatru Astra's Lucia di Lamermoor.
Welcome to the Astra. We're absolutely delighted to have you here. It is always our pleasure and our mission to promote young local talent and rising stars.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful opera.
What are your earliest memories of music and opera?
I guess I was always musical. My father used to play the tuba and as a kid I was always accompanying him to rehearsals and concerts. I was introduced to opera through the Junior College orchestra in Malta. We had a couple of concerts in Germany and Italy and that is where I realised I liked it, and started getting more interested. My first opera project was Minigig, organised by Rosetta Debattista. We were a group of young Maltese singers, running around the island in a tiny Mini Minor car, singing opera. It was a very good project and lots of fun both for us and the audience.
Can you tell us more than we already know about your journey to the stage?
Studying full-time at the Royal Academy of Music is what I'd say initiated my career. Drama classes, vocal sessions, auditions, masterclasses and many other activities which start building your stamina and increasing your chances and potential. When you're studying every day and meeting professionals who are working in the industry, you get opportunities both in college and outside that step by step help you get more confident in what you do.
What made you opt for opera rather than, say, contemporary music?
The truth is that you don't 'opt' for opera or contemporary music, but you just have to follow where your natural voice takes you. Mine happens to be suitable for opera singing, and I must say I'm very happy about that.
How does a young adolescent prepare for an operatic career? And what was the reaction of your friends to your decision, given that it's not a very common career?
Vocal technique is I'd say the most important thing. If you have that right, you'd most probably be on the right track. The most challenging thing I find is, preparing mentally and physically, which is not as straightforward as one might think. Physically, the body needs time to get used to singing every day, and staying healthy is very important. One needs to find their own method of doing this. Mentally, I'm afraid one is never 100% prepared: no performance is like another, and I guess you just prepare as much as you can and leave the rest to happen. Being prepared in today's operatic world also means having your luggage always close by, and a set of arias ready to be sung. You never know when and where you could be asked to audition.
My friends and family are very supportive of what I do. We all know it is not a common career and they share with me most of my ups and downs. With challenging careers like this one, one finds it's very important to have a support network. I'm very lucky to have them all.
Obviously for you to be asked to debut in an opera at the Astra means that you not only learned things, but gained a lot of attention in a short amount of time. What have been your previous professional experiences?
I have been very fortunate to experience some great opportunities recently. In summer 2016, I was a Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, which is a very prestigious opera company in the south of England. It was my first professional job and it couldn't have gone better. My most exciting moment in my career so far has been debuting at the Salzburg Festival, singing alongside Placido Domingo, Joseph Calleja and the rest of the amazing cast. It was a lifetime opportunity which I'll remember for some time. Singing the solo part in Mahler's 2nd Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall with conductor Semyon Bychkov was another unique experience and I found it was very inspirational.
It's not the first time you're singing at large-scale events. One of the latest was your wonderful participation at Joseph Calleja's special 20th anniversary concert on the Granaries in Floriana. What did it feel like performing alongside the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Sir Bryn Terfel and Calleja himself?
It was a very special concert, singing at your home country is always nerve-wracking and more exciting than probably anywhere else due to the higher expectations. I sang my heart out and enjoyed every minute of it. I couldn't stop smiling. It is very nice when established world-renowned singers share their experience with young upcoming singers. While on stage you could feel their positive energy and security of experience shining through them, and that gives you that extra special boost.
What are your thoughts on Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor?
Lucia di Lammermoor is one of the classics. It is performed in many theatres around the world. I must admit I've never seen a live production of it, so I am very much looking forward to familiarizing myself with its beautiful music so early my career.
Do you have any plans for the next stages of your career?
I will be finishing from the Royal Academy Opera this year and then we'll see what life has in store for me!