Opus Osm Minutka:Arsovska’s Fairy-Tale Debut


Milena Arsovska debuts in Prague opera not as a human character, but as the soul of the nightingale.

Macedonian soprano Milena Arsovska prepares her debut at Prague’s National Theatre, singing the lead in Stravinsky’s fairy-tale opera The Nightingale. A ‘big fan’ of fairy tales, Milena Arsovska tells how she’s preparing to sing the role in its original Russian.

Opus Osm’s Minutka: (‘Little Minute’):
Five Quick Questions for Milena Arsovska

Question 1: How did your debut lead performance at the Czech National Theatre come about?

This opportunity came from my agent, Bledar Zajmi, who invited me to take part in the first round of the audition. Then the jury wanted me to prepare one part of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale for the second round. After two weeks I officially got the role.


From a 1911 illustration by Edmund Dulac

Question 2: Is this opera production different from the operas you have worked on before?

It is different from all the other roles, not only from the musical point of view, but also as a character. Usually I sing real characters, like a young girl, princess, bride, maid.

In this opera I am a bird in a woman’s body, which with her beautiful voice is bringing life to the dead souls in the emperor’s kingdom. The Nightingale in our production is a symbol of life, happiness, freedom, it’s full of joy and positive energy … never feeling fear, anger, or pain.

Question 3: In what way is this a challenging role for you?

I am very precise in preparation, building a role in a way so that the audience can not only see, but also hear and feel the right emotion.

Milena Arsovska:
– was born in Skopje, Macedonia;
she studied at the State Music High School and Faculty of Music Arts, and received an Opera Master Diploma from the Vienna Conservatory
– at 17, sang her first role (Shephard in Tosca) in the Macedonian Opera Theatre
– made her professional debut there in 2005
– is also an active concert performer, singing in Germany, Italy, Japan, etc, and in ten concerts throughout Japan; her voice has been included on two film soundtracks
To build this character is very challenging also from the musical point of view. Stravinsky wrote a perfect nightingale melody, full of virtuosity, and it is very motivating to perform such a specific piece.

For our production, stage director Dominik Beneš said, “This is a fairy tale for adults.” He is creating it with a lot of symbolism, putting Life (the nightingale) and Death next to each other, like friends.

The mission of the Nightingale is to bring the light in humans to life, to make them have feelings and live with happiness and joy. This is the only way to have a peaceful death.

Question 4: Do you have a ritual before you go on stage?

Milena Arsovska

Milena Arsovska

Not really. For me it’s very important to sleep well that day and to have all my energy for the performance.

I do my regular exercises, vocalize, and go through the text and through the music.

Question 5: You are based in Vienna, but will we be seeing you more in Prague?

Vienna is my home town where I am regularly singing concerts for three different companies and I am working on projects in Germany, Switzerland, Italy. The Prague premieres of The Nightingale are on October 22 and 23, and it continues till the end of the season. So I will be singing in Prague in November, February, and April.

It is also very important to sing different styles and types of music and it is helping me to learn more and to grow as a musician. I am preparing a recital with songs by Slavic composers Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, and Dvořák, and also songs by Macedonian composers. This program will be presented in Prague, Vienna, and Macedonia in January.

The Nightingale and Iolanta (Slavík and Jolanta) premiere Oct 22 and 23 at The National Theatre, with further performances in 2015 on Nov 1 & 25.

–Zuzana Sklenková, Opus Osm assistant editor

Photo Credits: All images, M Arsovska website, except Dulac illustration, Wikipedia

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