The Ukrainian opera diva, the soloist of the Vienna Opera House Zoryana Kushpler, who has conquered the stages of New York, London, Prague, Madrid, Cologne, Paris, Bern, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo speaks about her native lviv, famous partners and the work-life balance.
Zoryana Kushpler, Ukrainian charismatic, model-looking woman, has been the soloist of the Vienna Opera for over 10 years already. Being the laureate of many international contests, she considers winning the Bavarian Radio and Television Competition ARD to be her serious victory and the main push in her career. It was the time when the girl received her first prize, which had not been awarded to any participant for 20 years!
Since then, the doors of leading theaters of the world have been opened before the singer. Zoryana debuted in London at the Barbican Center in the Coronation of Poppea opera. In 2004 – 2006, she performed in Switzerland at the Bern State Opera on an ongoing basis. And since 2007 she has been a staff soloist of the Vienna National Opera.
Five years ago, the singer expanded the geography of her career, making her debut in the US with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, and two years later at the famous New York Carnegie Hall with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. At the same time, she won the London's Royal Albert Hall in Richard Strauss's Elektra opera with her enchanting mezzo-soprano.
A talented opera diva was born in the family of famous Lviv musicians. Her father, Igor Kushpler, is People's Artist of Ukraine, soloist of the Lviv Opera, Professor of N. Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy. Mother, Ada Kushpler, has worked for many years as a dean at the same Academy. So naturally, our interview began with the question about parents.
– Were your parents the first teachers of music for you?
Yes, sure! Mom gave me the first lessons of playing the piano at the age of 5, and my father was my vocal teacher at the Music Academy and post-graduate school. We continued our studies with my father during my solo career too. In total, he had been my teacher for 20 years, until he tragically died in a car accident 5 years ago. My parents gave my sister and me a comprehensive musical education, which we continued abroad later on.
– Director of the Vienna Opera Dominique Mayer once said: "Before casting the singers, I never wonder what their passport is." Nevertheless, the presence of Ukrainian opera singers and musicians in Vienna is growing. What is so special about our artists that they win the hearts of the most sophisticated listeners of the recognized music capital?
Most importantly, of course, the outstanding vocal abilities! The Ukrainian people have always had strong singing traditions, and they have genetically developed our vocal abilities very much. And moreover, the Ukrainians are very beautiful nation. Here you are – a ready success formula! (Smiling).
– How many Ukrainian opera singers work today at the Vienna Opera?
This year three soloists from Ukraine work on a permanent contract: Olga Bessmertnaya, from Kyiv, Igor Onischenko, from Odesa and me, a Lviv woman. And in the ballet Denis Cherevichko from Donetsk dances as a first soloist. The Ukrainian people have always had strong singing traditions, and they have genetically developed our vocal abilities very much. And moreover, the Ukrainians are very beautiful nation. Here you are – a ready success formula!
– You worked together with many world-famous singers and conductors. Which of them made the greatest impression? With whom would you like to continue cooperation?
Of course, it is Placido Domingo. He is a unique person, a real phenomenon in the world of art! Such people are born once in 100 years only. I am very proud that I regularly perform with him and we are even on friendly terms. For sure, I will name Anna Netrebko – a unique singer and a very nice person. Krassimira Stoyanova – what a great vocal technique she has! An incredible musician! And my favorite lyric tenor is Peter Bechala. Great talent! That's who mindfully builds his own creative path. As for the conductors, I have the most vivid impressions of Franz Welser-Mesta, Semen Byshkov and René Jacobs. I have worked with them a lot on leading positions. Deep, knowledgeable musicians.
– You have been living and working in Vienna for more than 10 years already. Why did you fall in love with this city?
Vienna reminds me of my native Lviv very much. A beautiful, organized, cozy city, created for its dwellers. You know, Vienna retains the old tradition of love for the classical music. Children from early childhood are taught to go to the opera and concerts. And these visits are included in the curriculum of kindergartens (!) and schools. The listener is brought up, so to speak, from the early years.
– Two years ago you became a mother, gave birth to the son Mark-Igor. You practically were not on maternity leave. How do you manage to keep a family-work balance?
It is very important to properly organize your time and prioritize. If it works, then everyone is happy and you are happy at the first place! (Smiling). But it's important to assess yourself adequately. For example, I am not too much, but reasonably self-critical. In order to maintain a voice, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle. After the performance, I rarely allow myself to go somewhere with everyone for a dinner with wine: firstly, almost always in the morning a rehearsal is scheduled and you need to be in shape, and secondly, this also affects the figure. Therefore, I would rather meet with colleagues at breakfast and go to yoga or a swimming pool.
– What would you recommend your foreign friends who are going to come to Ukraine for the first time?
Go to Lviv, and you will love Ukraine at first sight! (Smiling). And then immediately - to Kyiv, of course! (Laughing).
– What do you like about Ukrainians?
Openness, cheerful mood. The Ukrainians are hardworking and very talented! I am proud of my nation!
– Tell us your top 5 places to visit in your native Lviv.
Opera House, Boim Chapel, Market Square, St. Jura Church, High Castle.
I am glad that in Lviv, no matter what happens, the cafes are full (smiling). Lviv people are positive. Nobody locks themselves in houses, everyone goes out to communicate. I watch how my native city is developing, changing for better. And that is great!
– What are your plans for the next year?
During a year the Vienna Opera stages 260 - 280 performances - from classics and baroque to modern ones. This theater is very different from Ukrainian ones and any other in the world. In Vienna, the opera is on from Monday to Sunday – a non-stop work. Every two years the Vienna Opera re-signs contracts with soloists. You can not relax! (Laughing). Man proposes, but God disposes! Let’s wait and see! (Smiling).
Interviewed by Myroslava Makarevych
Photos provided by Zoryana Kushpler