Opera Scotland

Roxana Nite, founder, Clyde Opera

Posted 2 Apr

Roxana, could you please tell me first a wee bit about yourself?

I am Romanian-born and I moved to Glasgow eight years ago. I’m a soprano. I love opera, classical music, I also teach singing and piano. I started piano lessons age 7 and singing lessons followed a few years later.

Did you come here to study?

No, I actually came here because the economic situation in Romania changed a few years ago. My sister lived in Scotland at the time I was considering to maybe move abroad and I came to Glasgow when I was offered a job as a piano teacher.

I graduated in law in Romania a year prior to my graduation from the Conservatoire and I also had my licence in Romania. During a slightly challenging time (following an unsuccessful audition to a Music Conservatoire) I decided to study law in Iasi, a town situated in Easter Romania. Studying law for one year was interesting, but in a way I knew law would not be the best career for me. I did not really want to become a lawyer. However, I worked very hard during that year, and for the following five years. The next year I had a successful audition to the Conservatoire in Constanta, Romania. I continued to study law and music in parallel, for four years. Those years have been extremely challenging due to the fact that the two universities were situated 600 km apart. However, I was determined to succeed and I did not let the travelling during the night get in the way. Looking back I think it was very important that I did not give up.  I do not think that I would be able to do it again though!

What is your first memory of opera?

I think my first memory is of Butterfly. In Romania I lived with my parents in a town where we did not actually have an opera house, not even a small opera company. When I went to university in Constanta just beside the Black Sea, I remember going to a performance of Butterfly. It really is something to be there and actually see everything on stage. Of course, I had studied opera but I never had a chance to actually see opera live until I went to University. That was the moment when I really knew that I really wanted to pursue a career in Opera!

So your voice training was complete when you came here?

Yes, I graduated in 2005 in Romania and then after graduation I taught classical singing at the University for around five years before I moved to Scotland.

Did you meet your husband here?

Actually I met my husband Razvan Luculescu in Romania and this is an interesting story: I have been asked to sing in a concert and I needed a pianist. The pianist who usually played for me was unavailable so she recommended Razvan. I got in touch with him and that was it! Razvan is actually a conductor. Since then we have worked together and we got married in 2009.

What made you think of starting Clyde Opera?

Having taken part in similar projects as a singer I thought that it was difficult for young soloists to find work and I felt there was a gap between students graduating and young soloists already in the profession. Nobody hires a soloist if they do not have a portfolio or if they do not have some experience, but nobody actually offers the chance to build experience! There is an option to go to masterclasses in Europe, the United States and different countries but that is very, very expensive and provides focused but limited experience.

As a result, I thought why not start a project here and see if it works. Initially the idea was to develop the musical community in Glasgow and Edinburgh but it was a wonderful surprise to receive applications from all over the world including from the USA.

Why did you choose La Boheme for your 2016 start?

I absolutely love Puccini; I knew it would be too ambitious to start with Butterfly, my favourite opera, so I thought La bohème would be a better choice. After speaking to our conductor we came to the conclusion that it was difficult to establish a choir in the first year. Our strategy was to find an opera where we could work without a choir so we could cut certain parts without really destroying all the action of the opera.

La Boheme is such a popular opera, we knew we had to get it right and make a name for ourselves and I think we succeeded.

You managed to get a good audience?

Yes! We worked really hard on our advertising. The Blythswood Hall at Renfield St Stephen’s Centre attracts a good audience and our shows have always been sold out.

What did you learn from the first production?

That is a very good question. 2016 was the first time I have acted as a producer and there is so much to learn from a new role. I am still learning today. I worked as a student in Romania on opera scenes but that was just very, very basic. To produce La Boheme, that was challenging. I believe that Rigoletto was even more challenging. It is a joy but a positive challenge to always work with different people, different soloists.

How have you managed to fund it?

As a new organisation it is always challenging to find funding in the very competitive arts market in Scotland. Our project is devised as a masterclass and we have been self-sufficient for the first two years relying on private sponsors and the fees which we unfortunately have to set for some of the participants. We would love to be in a position where we could provide scholarships to all our performers but as yet we do not have sufficient funding. We always welcome new friends and supporters and advice on where new funding streams may be available.

One of the fascinating things to me at the present time is how many younger people in Scotland and elsewhere are trying to start opera companies or put on performances.

I think it is an excellent sign, this is actually saying something positive for music. There is always a need for good performances, the public needs good music. At the same time the soloists graduating do not have enough work. The young people see that they need to do something and it is really, really admirable that they are trying to keep the art alive but as we know, it is not easy.

Do you see yourself doing this in five years?

I hope to have enough power and energy to keep Clyde Opera Group going for more than 5 years! Like any artistic process there are moments when you do not know why you are doing it but after two wonderful sold our productions of La Boheme and Rigoletto I know this is too good to give up. We are a small company, we do not have a huge budget and we rely on the kindness of strangers.

What do you have planned for your next production?

We are very excited to be producing Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte in Renfield St Stephen’s Blythswood Hall, with performances on the 28 and 29 July, 2018. This will be a very different venture for us after Puccini and Verdi and our new production team and soloists are already working hard to ensure we have another sold out season. I think the setting which for the opera will be wonderful, setting the backstage glamour of 50s Hollywood with all the mischievous twists in the plot. We’ll be advertising the shows very soon so please keep an eye on our website!


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