Wednesday, 21 November 2007


She loves to sing the Aria and feels that’s her strong point. As a soloist for over 30 years, Michiko Masuyama, the soprano from Japan, feels, “It is practice that matters the most” and that’s what she advises to the upcoming classical singers in Japan.

Talking about the young artistes in Japan she said – the exposure they get abroad is important for upgrading one’s skills. “Experience helps to improve,” she said as we delved into the qualities of a classical singer. “For a pop artiste – it is the range of voice that is important while for us it is the tonal quality,” she explained. Then, Masuyama elaborated what she meant by her “strong point” and said, “It is the climax of a composition that requires imagination on part of the performer – to give the audience the best.”

I asked about her choice of classical music. She smiled gently and went back to her childhood when she got a piano and classical music was the only established music form. It was then her love with piano and opera began. “Jazz came to Japan much later – after the World War. But I was never influenced by that,” she clarified. Later, she joined the music classes for children at the University and there was no looking back. She has been performing beyond Japan since 1985 and has been “overwhelmed” by the audience response everywhere she performed.

However, it is Italy and the audience there who impressed Masuyama the most. “Add to that the strong and energetic voice qualities of the Italian performers,” she said and mentioned Italian tenor Mario del Monaco as her favourite performer. “He invited me several times to perform in Italy and the experiences were fantastic,” the soprano informed. Puccini and Verdi are her favourite composers while Akiyama Kazuyoshi remains her favourite conductor, she added.

Talking about her experience in India, Masuyama said the country has impressed her with the constant endeavour to develop. But she admitted that she has “no knowledge” about Indian music. “In Japan there are very few programmes about India on NHK. I wish there were more and we get more closer to Indian culture,” she expressed her desire.