Natalya Romaniw in her mother tongue
We turn the screw on Glyndebourne's Governess as the autumn tour draws to a close
A British success story despite her exotic name, Natalya Romaniw is equally at home on the opera stage, concert platform and in the recital hall. She won the Young Welsh Singer Competition early in her career, the Gold Medal in her final year at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and received both the first prize and the song prize in the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award.
How has your relationship with Glyndebourne developed over the past few years? This is your company debut in a principal role, I think, but did you come up through the chorister-/cover ranks?
This is indeed my debut in the role and also for Glyndebourne. I have covered numerous times for Glyndebourne, since 2009, where I went on for act 3 of the first nymph in Rusalka when Ana Maria Martinez fell into the orchestra pit! Roles covered there have also included Anne Truelove, Armida (Rinaldo) and Countess in The Marriage of Figaro.
You chose a Britten song as part of your Cardiff Singer repertoire back in 2009: how much of a role has his music played in your career to date (and how much might it figure in your future)?
I did choose a Britten song for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. I think I feel a strong connection to singing in my mother tongue (English) despite many thinking I am from Eastern Europe due to my Ukrainian heritage!
I love Britten, I love the songs and the roles and feel all are spectacularly well written. Do I foresee a lot of Britten in the future? I'm not certain it's an obvious one for me...however, I'd love to explore his other characters, Ellen Orford being one of them.
Jonathan Kent's production of The Turn of the Screw is several years old now (and available on DVD): how much have you been influenced by the earlier Governesses in this production, or have you avoided seeing it in its earlier incarnations?!
I loved Jonathan Kent's production of this opera from the first time I saw it in the festival in 2011 with Miah Persson as the governess. I particularly enjoyed Miah's interpretation and I've certainly watched the DVD many a time...I've also listened to Camilla Tiling in the 2007 recording and would've absolutely loved to have seen/heard Kate Royal in the role...as you can see by these names, many a great soprano has graced this role in this particular production and it certainly is a lot to live up to! I admire all of them and feel they each have something different to offer to the role.
The opera is famously full of ambiguities about the Governess's character, her reliability as a narrator and even her sanity: how strong a character do you think she is, and (without asking you to give too much away about the production!) how much do you feel she's implicated in Miles's death?
There is certainly ambiguity in abundance where this production is concerned and a lot of it is depicted by the neurosis of the Governess...does she actually see the ghosts? Yes. For me, she absolutely must believe she does, even if our audiences don't and there lies the key...if I get the balance between her innocence and her neurosis correct, then our audiences are left undecided, which I feel is what this particular production aims to achieve. As for Miles's death, I don't want to say too much about this as you must come and see the show to decide for yourselves but, I will say that one of the Governess's final lines "what have we done between us?" provokes food for thought.
What's next for you, both in the short- and the long-term? Can we expect to see you back in the UK any time soon?
I've completed the young artists programme at Houston Grand Opera and am firmly planted back in the UK for the foreseeable future. I return next year to Houston for my first Wagner experience as Ortlinde in Die Walküre, which I'm very much looking forward to, but you will be able to catch me in the UK at Opera Holland Park next summer and at Garsington the year after.