When I first started to sing, I did not think that I would enjoy the world of Opera. But, it genuinely afforded me much fuel for my imagination. Especially Lakmé\’s Flower Duet By Léo Delibes — I never dreamed in my life that I could take the higher Soprano line but with a tremendous amount of practice I was able to make it sound decent. I wish, I had more time with Opera. Nevertheless, you know what\’s better? Having a friend who is an Opera Singer, who can express herself to the fullest with each dramatic breath sung with purpose. Which is exactly what I hear when I listen to Marika Rauscher. The interview below is not a new interview, it was the first of the three interviews that I\’d lost with so much other work. I am so thankful to Marika for still holding on to this interview from 5 years ago and some change. Now, I have a complete trilogy on Marika. I must say — she has been so much fun to interview over the last 5 years. My favourite quote from Marika is one I must share \”Have tonsils, will travel.\” I hope you enjoy reading this old interview as much as I enjoyed sharing it.
RMMW: What is your earliest musical memory?
MR: My parents being from Vienna, are music and theatre lovers, so it was very integrated in my upbringing. As a family, we went to an opera, musical, ballet or play every year on Boxing Day as a Christmas treat.
RMMW: Why/How did you become an opera singer?
MR: By default really. As a child I always thought I’d go into Musical Theatre, but my voice type even in infancy stages at school and university leant itself to the larger operatic repertoire, as I trained classically and it build from there. Or you could call it fate having been named after Opera Singer Marika Rökk!
RMMW: Which teachers made the biggest/deepest impact on you?
MR: Without a doubt 2 of my School Teachers. My flute teacher (as I was a 1st study flautist up until my 2nd year at University) and my GCSE / A-level Music Teacher. They both whole heartedly encouraged my Singing abilities in casting me to do Solo’s in School Productions, at a time where I had a great love of music but very little self confidence in my musical abilities. I can’t thank them enough for that belief in my early years. Their impact has never left me. Without them, I would never have made it to study Music/Theatre at University, or pursued a career in music.
RMMW: Which Opera/Composer’s had made the biggest/deepest impact on you?
MR: I’m a massive Mozart and Donizetti fan! Most of their works have special memories and a rooted place in my musical palette.
RMMW: What/where/when… was the first opera role you sang?
MR: I played the role of Jenny (A prostitute who was romantically involved with Macheath in the past and is bribed to turn Mack in to the police) in a secondary school production of “The Beggars Opera” by Weill/Brecht, during my A’Levels.
RMMW: So far, what has been your most challenging operatic role?
MR: The title role of Donizetti’s Opera “Anna Bolena”. At the time I was fresh out of college and still quite new to staged productions and only had 6 weeks from picking up the score to performance whilst working full time.
RMMW: What is on your musical ‘bucket list’?
MR: My own Solo Concert at The Royal Albert Hall is something I still have my sights on.
RMMW: Have you collaborated with any composers / had any music written especially for you?
MR: Yes, I have. I was very lucky to collaborate with an opera Company – Opera Room, who wrote, composed and produced my debut Album: A Broken Heart, which was released in 2013 and is available on iTunes and Amazon.
RMMW: How do you feel about (singing/being involved in) new Opera vs Opera in the 21st Century?
MR: I am a bit of an opera purist in that I love singing the Classics. But I welcome and think there is a great importance in new Opera. Like any art form, it must continue to grow to survive.
RMMW: Do you also write music?
MR: No. I leave that to others. My skills lie in performance, not writing.
RMMW: How much time per week do you spend practising?
MR: I am vocally active on the daily basis, through coaching and teaching 1:1 singing lessons. It then depends what performance projects I am working on, as to how much practise time gets allocated on top.
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before performing?
MR: Not really. A vocal warm-up and leaving plenty of time to get ready usually see’s me through to getting me on stage.
RMMW: Which award or achievement are you most proud of and why?
MR: I’m super proud of all my awards and achievements. I think my biggest personal achievement however has been Abseiling for Charity! Far scarier than any singing gig I’ve ever done!
MR: I have a vast and eclectic taste in music. I’ve always been a fan of Rock Music, but also love Cabaret, Musical Theatre and Jazz.
RMMW: If someone has never seen an Opera before which one would you recommend they see first and why?
MR: Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is great for that. Or the Magic Flute. Both opera’s are light hearted, easy to follow, have wonderful comedy moments, vocal acrobatics and melody lines you’d recocgnise already, which I think helps you warm to an opera as an introduction.
RMMW: There has always been infinite questions relating to opera and the singers body weight. Do you feel that the proper technique can alleviate all of those urban legends?
MR: A Singers body weight has absolutely nothing to do with their vocal ability! Never has, never will. Good technique is a must for any professional singer to have a good and reliable instrument. End of.
RMMW: How would you describe/define your voice?
MR: In operatic terms I’m a Lyricspinto Soprano with Dramatic capabilities. As I don’t only sing Opera, I refer to myself as an Opera Crossover Singer, which essentially means that I crossover into Musical Theatre, Cabaret and Jazz genres as a vocalist.
RMMW: Many individuals feel that opera is not for them – what would you say to convince them to give it a proper listen?
MR: I don’t think words necessarily can win them over if they have no understanding of the art form. I love challenging peoples perceptions by singing Opera in unexpected environments, up close and personal. Then people can “hear” and “feel” the impact and power of the voice for themselves, let alone the passion of the music.
RMMW: Where do you feel is the best place you’ve ever sung?
In the shower, the day before an audition for a part I didn’t get!!
RMMW: What, where, when… was your (best/proudest) performance and why?
MR: I have two. Singing for Royalty and performing at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden are to date my biggest achievements. My dream come true moments – absolutely! I don’t think either event has truly sunk in yet!
RMMW: Apart from opera, what styles/genres of music have you performed; do you enjoy performing?
MR: As mentioned briefly earlier, I sing Opera, Classical, Musical Theatre, Cabaret and Jazz. I love all of them, which is why I’ve designed my business around them. Each has something really magical to offer.
RMMW: How does studying a variety of styles impact your ability/approach to performing operatic music?
MR: It’s taken years to master. Opera is a trained and finely tuned skill that needs constant practise to sustain. Singing more relaxed styles and regular use of microphones can weaken the stamina muscles required for the operatic power.
RMMW: Why did you feel it was essential for you to have a vast singing repertoire?
MR: It wasn’t essential. It was a personal choice. To succeed in straight opera is a long, dedicated, difficult and uncertain career path. My passion to be a vocal all ‘rounder was one of personal interest and career choices.
RMMW: If you had a super power, what would it be?
MR: Teleportation would work well for me!