MDH soprano wins the Swedish Wagner-Sällskapet's prestigious competition
Rebecca Hellbom, opera student at the Academy of Music and Opera at Mälardalen University (MDH), won the Swedish Wagner Sällskapet’s prestigious Bayreuth Scholarship competition.
– It's an honour to even get to the final of the competition. In such tough competition, with talented singers from colleges such as the music and opera colleges in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, it is a major acknowledgment to win. I am really delighted, says Rebecca Hellbom.
The Wagner Sällskapet’s jury, which consists of court singer Helena Döse and Göran Gademan, Casting Director at the Göteborg Opera, justified their decision as follows:
“An upcoming Wagner voice with a close legato, a fine sense of language and a strong formation. And the whole thing was crowned by a magnificently high C.”
Rebecca, who is a great Wagner fan, has set her sights high for a long time to win the competition. A few years ago, she came second in the same competition.
– When I started at the Academy of Music and Opera at MDH, I had a smaller soprano voice, much like a recorder, and sang high and easy soprano repertoire. Today I am a lyric-dramatic soprano and have developed my voice box. My teacher Lena Hellström-Färnlöf has understood my dramatic voice and which repertoire suits me and has always been absolutely spot-on. As such, my development as a singer has gone hand in hand with the fact that my voice has grown fuller. It feels very secure, says Rebecca Hellbom.
Education important for her development
Rebecca has studied opera on the Chamber music programme, chamber opera programme and principal study part-time at MDH for the past few years. She is now nearing the end of her education. Throughout this time, her singing teacher, the University's Professor of Singing and Artistic Director, Lena Hellström-Färnlöf, has coached her.
– Lena has meant a lot to my development. She understands my voice and how we can develop it together in a long-term and healthy way. The vocal foundation that we have laid and built on makes me feel very comfortable with my voice and who I am as a singer, says Rebecca Hellbom, she continues:
– The fact that Lena has the whole world as her workplace means that she has very good insight into what it takes to succeed as a singer today.
Lena Hellström-Färnlöf noticed Rebecca's talent early during her studies on the Chamber Music programme at MDH.
– I realised Rebecca's great potential after two singing lessons. She has the best prerequisites both physically, mentally, and artistically. Her determination and not giving up has led to Rebecca today being a fully-fledged concert and opera singer at international level. We have been working together for many years and it is fantastic to be part of the journey with such a talented singer. Now Rebecca is ready for the big stages, says Lena Hellström-Färnlöf.
Many concerts and collaborations
Rebecca is grateful for her years at the Academy of Music and Opera at Mälardalen University.
– It really is a fantastic programme where you meet many competent teachers. I have had the privilege of studying with some of Sweden's best pianists, Bengt-Åke Lundin and Magnus Svensson. We have also had masterclasses with prominent musicians in the industry, says Rebecca Hellbom.
During the programme, many concerts are held, and the students are given a lot of time to practice performing on stage.
– We have done so many wonderful concerts. We have had fantastic concerts with orchestras such as Västerås Sinfonietta, orchestral projects with Västmanland Symfoniorkester and Mälardalens Orkesterakademi and toured with several different children's operas. We have had the world premiere of an opera, Riddartornet by Carl Unander-Scharin, where the roles were written for us singers on the programme and which we performed at Västmanlands Theatre and Vadstena Gamla Theatre. We have also participated as soloists at concerts in Västerås Cathedral with the Stockholm Bach Society amongst others, says Rebecca Hellbom.
Now Rebecca is looking forward to life as an upcoming professional opera singer. She believes it is an art form that has it all; the feelings, passion, stories and music.
– The dream is to be able to make a living by singing with the goal of singing lead roles in various operas by, for example, Wagner, Verdi, Strauss and get to do this on fantastic stages and opera houses such as Bayreuth, says Rebecca Hellbom.
Winning the competition is a step in that direction for Rebecca. In addition to the honour, the award in the competition means that she gets to go to the annual festivals in Bayreuth where the composer Richard Wagner is celebrated. There she will not only take part in the opera performances but will meet those working in the industry and be given the opportunity to make valuable contacts.
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