Since 2014, the young soprano Aida Garifullina has a permanent engagement at the Vienna State Opera and stands on the verge of a brilliant career. Her unusual name and striking good looks cannot possibly get in the way.

Your appearance at Peter Eötvös’ opera Tri Sestri at the Vienna State Opera is quite curious: as a soprano, you are squeezed into a role initially written for a high male voice.

This character not only sings, but also speaks. It is not so easy, because when I say something I cannot use opera vocals. I have to speak on the stage loud enough, to be heard with the orchestra in the background. Moreover, the sound should sort of ”float”: I start higher than usual and gain more resonance this way. Taking part in a modern opera requires different training and dealing with this difficult, complicated harmony.

In the world of opera, everybody is superficially friendly, as usual. The agents say everything was wonderful, so do the fans, and the directors flood you with compliments, inviting to participate in new productions. How is it possible to hear not only positive opinions, but also good, rational criticism? It is clear that people cannot objectively judge themselves.

Definitely! And I have my mom for that. She lives in Russia, but she is by my side on every important occasion. For example, she comes to general rehearsals, they are essential because by that time the opera is already familiar and I need a spectator to say what is okay and what should still be improved. Only my mom is able do that right now. She knows better that anybody else what I can do and she is probably the only one to tell me all this directly.

The criticism proved to be useful: you are permanently engaged at the Vienna State Opera, and you are making an album, too.

The recording is still not finished, we have recently decided to add a couple of other tracks. Two arias and a duet with a star tenor will follow. First, we wanted to make an album with Russian arias only, but later decided to make recordings in foreign languages as well. However, the Russian repertoire is still the main focus of the album.

Do you notice that when the career progresses rapidly, things not related to music, such as personal image, start playing a bigger role?

There are many „details“ which are crucial for making a great career. No doubt, it is necessary to have good musical and acting skills, but thinking about personal image and looks is a must. Not to mention social media. Do not you think that the person can become less genuine? I want to stay genuine no matter what! I appreciate it when people who have achieved a lot still remain simple, for example, Plácido Domingo or Valery Gergiev. They are my role models because they treat all people with equal respect, it does not matter who is in front of them: their family members, students or total strangers. Here I have learned a lot from P. Domingo.

And vice versa: would you ever honestly say to Plácido Domingo how well he sings?

I think he is always good! He is an Idol.

Okay, this question was unfair, you could not have answered differently…

True! (laughs)

The last question: as an opera singer, you have a wonderful name, it is almost hilarious. Is it real?

Of course! I always forget what “Aida” means. Something similar to “guest” or “present”. My parents were really looking forward to having a daughter. And when I was born, it was like a present for them. This is where the name came from. It is a real one.

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