Stephanie Gibson, a finalist in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, recently graduated from Wales International Academy of Voice where she studied under instruction of Dennis O'Neill CBE and Nuccia Focile.
She recently spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod about how her passion for opera began and who inspires her the most. She also revealed how she came to choose her two pieces for the Semi-Final.
What inspired your passion for opera?
There is something so incredible about really great singing. It resonates within you in a way words cannot. Opera is an incredible art form in that respect, and the performances of great singers are a daily inspiration for me. There's a scene for every mood and Opera is like having access to wonderful moments on tap.
Who inspired you to start singing?
My mum inspired me to start singing. She suggested I audition for a choir when I was about 8 years old as I was always singing about the house. So I auditioned and I received a scholarship to attend for the year. Haven't looked back since!
Tell us a little bit about the songs you chose to perform at the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship Semi-Final and why you chose them.
I chose to perform Glitter and be Gay from Bernstein's Candide and Zerbinetta from Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. I love both these characters! Zerbinetta is so fun and flirtatious. I think you can find something of Zerbinetta in every woman and she speaks so frankly about life and love. She's great to experience the thoughts of.
Glitter and be Gay is one of the most fun Arias to sing. Cunegonde laughs through it most of the time, and there is so much fun in taking on the happy and occasionally maniacal thought process. I chose them both because not only are they vocally really suitable to me, but they are great characters, each with a pretty clear message to convey.
Which other performers do you most like to listen to? Why?
I am incredibly fond of singers from all eras. Rita Streich has to be my favourite coloratura. Clear as a bell and so much joy in her sound. Some of the most lusciously youthful, beautiful singing I have ever heard is in the 60's recordings of Dame Joan Sutherland, but I think for every singer her incredible voice and career is something to admire. I had the pleasure of seeing Juan Diego Florez at the ROH recently and he is just fabulous in every respect.
Who inspires you and why?
My dad inspires me . Every day. He is in the advanced stages of early onset Alzheimer's and still lights up when you sing to him or play him music. It's the main language we have left to communicate in and knowing this gives me a reason to keep singing. It's a universal way to speak, reach out and be heard.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
That's an incredibly difficult question to answer. I think 'don't sing until you are ready' has probably been the truest advice I have received. Knowing your work, knowing your voice and knowing what you want to say, all have to be present and the more experience I gain the more I see this to be true.
What are you hoping to achieve next?
A happy life full of great music, great colleagues and good food. I work hard and strive for the best from myself at all times. I polish my technique and have a great team of artists and teachers I trust to help me move forward towards the right roles and the right experiences. I hope to continue to learn to use my voice to help people, to communicate and to touch people, especially those who need music to pull them from the darkest of places.