IT’S Valentine’s Day on February 14, and the Hallé are marking the occasion with a concert at the Bridgewater Hall, with conductor Stephen Bell.
Soprano soloist is Natalya Romaniw, a young lady whom I spotted six years ago when she was guesting with Manchester Camerata on New Year’s Day. I said then she was undoubtedly going places.
She has, and she is. She’d already represented Wales in Cardiff Singer of the World, and she won the Clonter Opera Prize, at the base for training young singers in Cheshire, while still studying, and went on to take the leading role in Lucia di Lammermoor at Clonter in 2011.
The following year she won both the Song Prize and the outright first prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards in London.
She went to Houston Grand Opera on their young artists programme, and since returning to her home base in Swansea has sung with Opera Holland Park, Glyndebourne Touring Opera (the Governess in The Turn Of The Screw), as a Rhinemaiden for Vladimir Jurowski at the Royal Festival Hall and as a Valkyrie back in Houston.
Recently she’s been singing for Danish National Opera, in February she’s the Foreign Princess in Rusalka for Scottish Opera, and then tragic heroine Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera.
Despite her name, Natalya is Welsh through and through, as you realize the moment you hear her speaking voice. Her mum and dad are both police officers. But her grandfather was Ukrainian and played the accordion, so it looks as if she has him to thank for the musical gene. “Apart from that, we don’t know where it came from,” she says.
She knew she could sing by the age of 11 and liked the idea of being in musical theatre, but didn’t take classical singing lessons until she was 16. She trained at the Guildhall School in London, and never looked back.
Natalya is relishing the chance to sing passionate love music with the Hallé. “It does appeal to me,” she says. “I’m always playing someone who’s either dying or madly in love.
“My favourites will be Un Bel Di and the Act 1 duet from Madame Butterfly” – but there’s also the Act 1 finale from La Bohème, Somewhere from West Side Story, and more besides, with David Butt Philip the tenor soloist.
“I adore all the music,” says Natalya. “It won’t feel like work.”