Almost a year after her thrilling win at the 2009 competition, Ekaterina Scherbachenko sang Tatyana in the Bolshoi Opera's Eugene Onegin at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in April 2010. Viv Goldberg caught up with her there.
Ekaterina Scherbachenko (photo: Damir Yusupov)
How has life changed for you since you won the competition last June? Has your win had a direct effect on your career?
Lots has changed! And lots of very good perspectives have appeared for me. One of the most important consequences was that I was immediately signed by a major agency, and my manager there is bringing me many very interesting proposals. I now know my schedule up to 2013 - it's very nice to know what I'm doing but it's also a little frightening! I feel as though I'm not the master of my own life any more and it almost feels as though I've already lived those years!
You've sung Tatyana to many international audiences: in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Ljublyana, now in Beijing, and with London, Madrid, Lucerne and Monte Carlo later this year. Do you feel a different reaction from different international audiences?
Yes, in Paris and Milan, for example, the audience seems more sophisticated and reserved: in Beijing the audiences are keen to applaud at every opportunity! It is very encouraging to hear this immediate positive feedback, and people in the Bolshoi have said to me that my performances here in Beijing are the best that I have given in this role.
And of course, you sang Tatyana's Letter Scene so memorably in your first appearance in Cardiff Singer.
Yes, and when I heard the audience's reaction I was sure that it would give me a place in the final - and of course it did!
How do you see your career developing? Are you learning any new roles?
Yes, it's very exciting. I'm now learning Donna Elvira and Rusalka. I am trying not to take too much on - this became an issue as I was saying yes to too many things and became scared about how I would cope with it. The next two months are very tough but then it becomes more manageable.
I believe you have some important debuts coming up.
Some great ones! Munich, the Met and Glyndebourne are all in the diary! I will sing Liù in La Scala and Munich next year, Micaela at the Met in 2012 and Mimi at Glyndebourne in 2012.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time? Are there any particular roles you'd like to add to your repertoire?
I would like to sing more French roles, for example Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. Also, I dream about Violetta but I'm not sure about the first act yet - with that high E flat! But it isn't just the roles that I'm looking forward to. I hope to work on new productions, interesting projects - hopefully as important as this production of Eugene Onegin by Dmitri Tcherniakov.
Do you have any advice for future Cardiff Singer competitors?
First of all, only choose arias that you really love and which you do best, don't feel you have to prove you are an all-rounder. I sang Anne Trulove from The Rake's Progress in Cardiff Singer - it was new to me and I only learned it two months before, but I love it so much! Secondly, when you're on stage, forget about it being a competition and just enjoy singing to this really great audience. And by the way, please also send my love to the Cardiff audience!