by Ilaria Gelichi
1. Tiffany, tell us how you became an opera singer.
I have always loved music, but my love for opera started when I was 14. I was in New York and I saw my first opera, La Boheme: I literally fell in love with everything about the production, but at the time I don’t think I understood exactly with what - until recently.
2. So, now you understand why?
Yes, of course. I love singing and this form of technique fascinates me because it is difficult to conquer. Before the voice, you have to understand your body, mind, spirit - everything. I like the challenge of acquiring these difficult skills.
3. How do you have to set up your body to sing best?
It’s a combination of two main components, the physical one but also the psychological one. You need to learn how to utilize every muscle in your body all while staying relaxed and clear minded and you also need a lot of discipline to synchronize all of this. I like this challenge!
4. Do you think there is a relation between the star sign and the career?
Why not? What I know about my sign, Sagittarius, is that they are adventurous and creative – and so am I!
5. Do you think that you are a creative person who can innovate?
Because I’m a beginner, I don’t think I’m prepared to be as innovative right now as I’d like to be in the future. What I do think truly makes a great singer though, is sincerity. For me, a singer who can connect with their emotions and convey this while she/he sings while also being able to have this tap into something genuine for the audience is what truly makes a powerful performer and performance.
6. In your opinion, what is more important - technique or heart?
Both. But if I had to choose, I would say heart. For example, let’s think of Maria Callas: her technique was fantastic but not without flaw, however, because she could convey emotions so well, she was believable and successful. You can watch a video of her singing, turn off the volume and still feel moved by her performance. There’s something to be said about that. Technique is wonderful, vital and important but if there’s no feeling behind it, it becomes quite stagnant and there’s a feeling of disjuncture.
7. Which are your feelings while you perform? Do you have to change and think about something?
When I’m singing I try to focus on the feelings of the character I’m playing and/or the song I’m performing; I do this by creating a persona in my head for this character so that they are as three dimensional as possible. I also think about an experience – a personal one – that I find helps me to perform and convey the emotion as realistically as possible.
8. Why did you choose Italy and Florence for your music studies?
Because I had just entered a point in my life where I was, and still am, “starting over”, it made sense to me that I wanted to go back to the beginning in all other aspects regarding this change. So, it was logical that in order for me to understand the city where opera was born I needed to move to Florence, which just happens to be in the beautiful country that is Italy.
9. Are there any differences between Canada and Italy in regards to music studies?
Yes and no. It’s difficult for me to judge, because sometimes I feel like my comprehension and ability to develop is limited because of the language barrier. However, here at Istituto Europeo I have an excellent teacher. Maybe I could say that here in Italy teachers have stricter expectations when training, but I cannot say for sure because I’ve had limited experiences with classical teachers in general. I also recognize that I was in a different place in my life when I lived in Toronto and wasn’t as focused on dedicating myself to music as I am now. Anyway, some details are the same everywhere. For example, a good teacher doesn’t focus only on one element, because what could be more important for one student’s development could be less imperative for another.
10. How was your experience at Istituto Europeo?
Absolutely positive, I would recommend the same experience to a friend. My teacher, Valeria, is very good. She places importance on every aspect of my life, not only the voice – but nutrition and my physical health as well - now I run 5 days a week!
11. Is opera popular in Canada?
Yes, there are a lot of amazing teachers and companies all over the country and they seem to be on the forefront in this industry right now. Ironically, I actually sang with the company Toronto City Opera for two years before moving to Florence and our three main directors were all of Italian descent.
12. You are a singer but also a blogger. How do you adjust the two things?
I like reading and writing, it’s a way of self-reflecting about things that happen in my life, like singing, so it sort of functions organically. Plus both of these expressions are creative outlets so I feel like they go hand in hand. As soon as something significant happens in my life, I take a mental note of it and start pre-structuring how I’d like to share this part of my life with others through my writing. One day, I’d even like to write a book on the process of becoming a singer because the journey is quite fascinating.
13. What advice would you give to a young person who wants to become a singer?