Interview with Evgenija Jeremic

Soprano Evgenija Jeremic held a concert in her hometown of Kragujevac, within the Concert Season “Convivium Musicum 17/18”. In the crowded Gallery of the National Museum, in front of the domestic audience, she performed accompanied by pianist Petar Markovic. The evening was painted with the sounds of Italian arias from the Verdi and Puccini’s operas, with which she showed a lavish spectrum of emotions, sophistication and extraordinary musicality. The audience welcomed the performance of their fellow citizen visibly thrilled and with great applause.
After the concert, students of FILUM from the Department of Music in the Media, Andjela Markovic and Sara Stankovic talked with a young and successful opera singer from Kragujevac.
IMG_1795You first completed the instrumental and theoretical department in high school. When did you realize that opera singing will be your profession?
I enrolled the theoretical department first, because I could not enrol the piano. I then entered the piano as part-time, and after the piano, I accidentally entered the singing because I saw a segment from Othello by Giuseppe Verdi on television, and I went to the audition. Since the choir professor Marko Nesic always distinguished me as a soloist, I thought, well, if I have a voice, it might be great. And I turned to singing. So, everything came from − watching the opera on television.

Who was your role model in opera singing?
From domestic singers, Radmila Bakocevic, who is my mentor now that I’m a student of the first year of doctoral studies. And from foreign singers Leontyne Price, Renata Tebaldi, Renata Scotto… Mostly, the “older guard” of the singers.

Of the many awards we find in your biography, which is your favourite?
If I can be honest, it is the award I won at the XIII International Solo Singers Competition in Ruma, Nikola Cvejic. This is one of my favourite awards because it marked the beginning of my cooperation with professor Radmila Bakocevic, who helped me a lot in my singing career.

Does she then represent for you the greatest support in your career?
Yes. It is very interesting, because all of my professors in high school and at university were students of Radmila Bakocevic. So, it can be said that I have always learned in some way from her.

How do you choose a program that you will perform and do you favour a particular composer?
I mostly love Verdi for the simple reason that my type of voice is the one most often heard in operas. This is, as I said, spinto soprano, which has mobility and darkness in the timbre. Basically, all the composers should equally be represented in the repertoire. That’s what I did most of the time, while I was a student and at a high school. Now I’m starting to experiment, so I usually make concerts with arias only.

You have interpreted numerous roles in operas. With what role do you think you had the most success?
It’s a difficult question. I have experienced every role very personally and for everyone I tried to sing it the best that I could. However, I think it will be the role I’m currently working on, which is the role of Violeta Valeri in Verdi’s opera Traviata. Of those I’ve been singing so far, I can single out the role of Mimi from the opera La Boheme.

Is there an opera role that you daydream?
Yes, there is. This is precisely the role of Violeta from the opera Traviata, with which, I hope, I will debate in May this year on the scene of the National Theatre in Belgrade.

Do you like to perform with orchestras or you are more interested in opera scene? Can we compare the two types at all?
Experience on the opera scene can’t really be compared with anything. Simply, you become that character. You are alone on the scene and you have no awareness of time and space. You focus on the story of opera.

You are a professor at the music school “Mokranjac” in Belgrade. How much does pedagogical work fulfil you at such young age?
It fills me, because, through working with them I really control myself. When I give them some remarks, I sharpen my hearing. While listening to them, I correct the same things in my own singing.

What’s next on your professional plan? What are you doing right now?
First of all, Violeta’s role in the opera Traviata. After that, I have an engagement with the Belgrade Philharmonic, where I will perform with the conductor Daniel Raiskin. I sing a solo section from the Maler’s 4th Symphony, and after that there will probably be some engagements in Italy.

Have you contacted another important opera house, next to the National Theatre in Belgrade?
Yes, I already sang in Bulgaria, Romania, and now I’m preparing for Italy. I do not want to rely only on Belgrade and on our art scene.

Andjela Markovic and Sara Stankovic
students of FILUM, Department of Music in Media
Photo: Milos Dasic
Translation: Ljubica Guzvic