Today we’d like to introduce you to Victoria Lawal.
Hi Victoria, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a Nigerian-American singer, actress and writer currently based in LA and Montreal. When I reflect on my past, I remember there always being music playing in our home. We relished in the music of Nigerian artists such as Fela Kuti and Sade. There was always a great appreciation for Jazz in our household which I continue to carry. Growing up in Houston, Texas, I always sang in my school chorus and was subsequently guided by some wonderful mentors. I have a very clear memory of my Choir Directors in High School showing us a video of Lily Pons singing the “Bell Song” from Delibes’ Lakmé The command she held over her voice and the audience was awe inspiring and I knew that I wanted to possess that magic.
Once I began delving further into opera, I discovered those who would become my biggest inspirations. As a teenager, I listened primarily to the works of Maria Callas, Mirella Freni, Guiseppe di Stefano and Agnes Baltsa. I searched endlessly for anything I could find at my local record store conducted by Maestro Tullio Serafin. I continued to formally study voice in school and hone my vocal technique. In my professional career, I strive to emulate the same fearless pursuit of technical and dramatic excellence shown by my early influences. As an artist, I enjoy creating through various mediums. Through my Operatic singing, I explore both new compositions and “staple” works within the cannon. In my writing, I bring poetry, philosophy, and operatic libretti to life. I view life as art in the making. And I strive to create beautiful moments every day.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This path has not been easy. I have been met with a lot of resistance as a Black Femme artist. I have been suppressed, as many of us have, by an art form that was not built with equity in mind. This world demands so much of us, even amidst the communal trauma experienced by Black people every day. I have found solace in radical rest as an act of self-care. I am forever grateful to my Yogic spiritual practice, which keeps me grounded in a world of unease. I have the most incredible and supportive network of friends, family and colleagues that I know I can always lean on.
In the Operatic world, many of the opportunities and connections deemed necessary for a career are not made accessible to those from communities where the arts are not valued. I believe it is crucial to utilize any platform we have as artists in the professional sector to uplift those around us. I am fortunate to have found ways to help promote equity and inclusion at the Board level through serving as Secretary for the Perfect Day Music Foundation and acting as a committee member for numerous diversity initiatives throughout the United States.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Though I love working on literary and advocacy projects, my greatest passion is being able to make music with others. I am a soprano that specializes in the music of the 18th and 19th centuries. My voice has been described as a “uniquely rich sound combining emotional energy, sensitivity, intelligence… and mastery” (OperaBuffs). I have spent the majority of my adult life studying the Bel Canto style through the teachings of Manuel Garcia, Nicola Vaccai, Mathilde Marchesi and Pauline Viardot. On any given day, I can typically be studying the music of Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, or Verdi. For my voice and soul, there is no greater balm! Learning this repertoire, in this style, has been one of my life’s greatest joys. I am very fortunate to have spent this summer debuting at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY! I debuted the role of First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute alongside Bass-Baritone Eric Owens as Sarastro, and created the role of Isabelle in a new play by Sandra Seaton entitled The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson. I could not think of a better way to get back to performing for live audiences again.
Any big plans?
After some family time, I’ll be heading back to LA to perform a solo Recital with pianist Mark Robson at Boston Court Pasadena. Our program features works by Respighi, Chabrier, Barber, Juliana Hall and a new commission by LA based composer Theodosia Roussos. I look forward to making my role debut as Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio. Lauded as “urgent, powerful, and poignant” (The New York Times), this production will tour New York, Arizona and California, ending in a performance at The Broad Stage (February 26 & 27, 2021. Further projects are yet to be announced for what is proving to be an exciting season ahead!
- Email: Victorialawalsoprano@gmail.com
- Website: https://www.victorialawal.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
Collen Keller LA Opera Long Beach Opera