MAY 2018 YOUNG ARTIST
Ayako Ohtake | soprano
Soprano Ayako Ohtake is currently based in Sydney and a member of the Pacific Opera Young Artist Program in 2018. Recently Ayako completed her Masters at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK. Prior to this, Ayako had been studying in Tokyo, Japan where she obtained her PhD in Musical Arts at the Kunitachi College of Music with the highest honours for her performances and thesis on 4 heroines of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann.
For the last few years Ayako has been performing in Japan and the UK. In Japan, Ayako has performed on many stages and won competitions prizes. In London, she has appeared as a concert soloist including Handel’s Messiah.
Ayako made her professional opera debut as the Queen of the Night inDie Zauberflöte in Japan in 2015 and she recently completed another engagement for the same role. Other operatic roles include Pallade in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Eurydice in Orphée aux Enfers and Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
1. What have you been up to lately, performance-wise, and what's coming up?
I most recently performed with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in the Opera Gala “Love and Lust” as a soloist in Llewellyn Hall, Canberra. It was an absolutely fantastic night and I still need to pinch myself to see if it has really happened to me. This wonderful opportunity was given to me by Pacific Opera and I truly appreciate it.
Apart from the performance opportunities given by PO, I have an exciting engagement to appear in the Coast Opera Australia’s Debut Concert on the 1st of September as a soloist alongside amazing star singers.
Also, later this year I’m going back to my hometown, Tokyo to perform Violetta (role debut) in “La Traviata”. It will be a big vocal challenge but I look forward to it so much!
2. Who is your favourite singer, and why?
It’s a very hard question to answer... I can’t narrow it down to one person as I have so many singers who I admire and am influenced by. I decided to focus on mainly coloratura soprano legends this time, but still impossible to choose just one...
When I was a student in Japan, I was blown away by Edita Gruberova’s recording of Lakmé’s Bell Song, and I’ll never forget her diamond-like sound and the dedication I felt when I listened to her singing live. Around the same time, I was also drawn to Joan Sutherland’s heavenly sound and the unbelievable scale in her recording of “Let the bright Seraphim”.
Although I haven’t heard them live, Arleen Auger and Lucia Popp are also amongst my favourite legends and I can’t stop listening to their recordings.
Regarding the newer generation, Natalie Dessay and Diana Damrau are always so impressive and imaginative... there are so many more names I could put down, but for now these are my inspirations and dream singers!!
3. What show has impacted you the most as an audience member?
Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory” at the MET in New York in 2011, in which the three main characters were exceptionally performed by Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato. Despite not being a well-known opera, the whole production was simply spectacular. I’ll never forget the power and possibility of music and the human voice, and the special connection made between the stage and the audience. After all, I managed to get the vocal score! Wish to have a chance to perform it one day...!
4. What experiences do you think have shaped you the most as a performer?
Fortunately every single experience in my journey as a singer has been invaluable, so again, not easy to choose which one was the most influential... My first opera production as a principal cast member was “Così fan tutte” by Mozart at school in Japan and that experience including the anticipation and preparation prior to the performance made me finally seriously think about my career as a singer and performer. In addition audience experience has also been very important to me. The emotional connection, stimulation and being touched by the music allows me to use my own imagination and creativity when on stage. Finally, appreciating all of the beauty in the world, whether present in nature, art or people inspires me everyday.
“Der Rosenkavalier” by R.Strauss is my favourite opera. It’s hard to explain but I’ve always felt something really special in this opera. Whenever I listen to the music, I feel like my soul is transported somewhere by the music and it’s Strauss’s magic I think...
My most favourite arias are probably any ‘mad scene’ arias. As a coloratura soprano, expressing insanity and shouts from the soul by using extreme but well-controlled high notes and coloratura passages is such a challenging and addictive activity. I absolutely love it!
Also I’d like to put 4 heroines of “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” by Offenbach as my dream role(s). I studied about this piece in my PhD course and one day I’d like to perform all the 4 heroines which was originally composed for one soprano by the composer.
June 2018 - Rebecca Hart
May 2018 - Ayako Ohtake
April 2018 - Andrew Dickson
March 2018 - Rebecca MacCallion
February 2018 - Sophie Salvesani
November 2017 - Bree Meara-Hendy
October 2017 - Livia Brash
September 2017 - Daniela Leska
August 2017 - Emily Turner
July 2017 - Barbara Jin
June 2017 - Caleb Son
May 2017 - Laura Scandizzo
April 2017 - Ryan O'Donnell
March 2017 - Claire Chehade-James
February 2017 - Christopher Curcuruto
August 2016 - Elizabeth Smalley
July 2016 - Charlotte Merz
June 2016 - Sarah Ampil
May 2016 - Nicholas Tolputt
April 2016 - Rebecca Moret
March 2016 - Bree Meara-Hendy
December 2015 - Sarah Wang