Saturday, January 24, 2015

Opera Skaala: "Let the best song and performance win!"

Photo: Anton Sucksdorff! (YLE)
Time for another UMK interview! Here are the answers of OPERA SKAALA:
Name: Opera Skaala, soloist mezzo soprano Essi Luttinen
Birthday: 28.9.1978
Height: 165 cm
Favorite color: Red
Favourite food: I am omnivore, I like everything but appreciate good quality and in imaginitive tastes
Eye color: Green
Where are you right now? In Paris
3 things that makes you happy: Loving people around me, Succeeding in work, Beautiful weather
What’s your strangest talent? It must be the ability to sing fast coloraturas and ornaments with my voice
Do you have any nicknames? Only my closest ones have nicknames for me :)
Tell me something no one knows about you: I simply can't think of anything on this question. I don't think I have many secrets in my life….
What are you really good at? in singing, in psychological sense with other people, acting
What are you really bad at? with computers
Childhood idol: Erroll Flynn
Childhood memory: It's summertime at my grandparents' farm, it's warm and sun is shining, I walk down the sand paths in the countryside and I'm fulfilled with happiness and trust
What would you do if you were invisible? If I was invisible I would of course go places I'm not allowed to such as… the changing room of Portuguese football team because invisible I could also travel free without anybody noticing. Lisbon would be nice city to visit anyway! :)
Favorite movie: Really really hard to tell but let's mention Les parapluies de Cherbourg
Favorite tv series: Pride and prejudice by BBC
Tell me a super power you wish you had: Sometimes I think life would be easier if I could see in the future or read people's mind
What is your guilty pleasure? To watch tv  eating crisps and drinking ginger ale...
Name a song that never fails to make you happy: Bobby McFerrin "Don't worry, be happy"
When did you start singing? I've sung since my childhood, vocal lessons I started at the age of 14
Can you teach me some interesting words in finnish? I think one of the funniest Finnish words is very common word "Yö" which means "night". Funny words are also "piispuus" (bishophood) and "nissanissani" (in my Nissan car)… In this case all the readers should of course learn in Finnish oopperalaulaja (opera singer) and laulukilpailu (singing competition).

Name: Visa Oscar
Birthday: September 12, 1976
Height: 186 cm
Favorite color: dunno (I don't know)
Favourite food: Nepalese, Thai, Italian 
Eye color: blue 
Where are you right now? Home
3 things that makes you happy: Good music, Family, Friends
What’s your strangest talent? I can play on the piano almost anything I hear without having a perfect pitch 
Do you have any nicknames? Visa
What is the strangest thing you have in your room? a 100+ year old small japanese gong
What are you really good at? Concentration (only 1 task at a time)
What are you really bad at? House holding 
Childhood idol: Miles Davis (still is)
Childhood memory: me playing piano at my grandparents house
Tell me something no one knows about you: I snore
What would you do if you were invisible? Invisible business :)
Favorite movie: Star Wars 
Favorite tv series: Californication
Tell me a super power you wish you had: the ability to stop time (and still be able to do my stuff)
What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate 
Name a song that never fails to make you happy: Miles Davis: Tutu "Perfect Way"
When did you start writing? At the age of 7
Can you teach me some interesting words in finnish? Epäjärjestäytymättömyydellisyydelläänsäkään. 
Hello guys! Welcome to UMK! How are you?
E: Hi, I'm doing perfectly fine! 
V: Feeling excited and happy. 

How would you describe yourself as an artist?
E: I am very passionate, ambitious, strong in my expression, full of soul and not compromising anything. I take my profession very seriously but it doesn't mean that I couldn't laugh at my self and be funny. 
V: As a player I represent Afro-American tradition. My education is mostly jazz (I am a doctoral student in Sibelius-Academy jazz dep.) In 90's and early 2000 I was playing and touring a lot in pop, rock and EDM bands. As a composer I have worked also in other genres like opera and film music. My own Visa Oscar -Group album is going to be released later in 2015 and it will be straight forward jazz fusion. I have a therapy project called Binary Boyz that has released electro/downtempo on an Italian label Miraloop Hearts. 
You are one of the participants of UMK 2015. How did it all begin?
E: I've done my career almost purely in classical music field and been part of the Opera Skaala company on Helsinki among my other work. Last spring we did a production which was based on a completely new musical genre which combines Antonio Vivaldi's baroque arias and electronic dance music. We wanted to test our skills by doing a completely new song from the scratch by using this same concept and to take part in the UMK competition with it.
V: In spring 2014 Opera Skaala had a performance called La Furia Delle Costellazioni which featured 15 Anton Vivaldi's arias arranged in a similar EDM fashion. We developed this concept for that piece and since we got encouraging comments and a lot of media attention we decided to take the concept even further with our own song for the Eurovision. 
"Heart of light" is the title of your song, whats the story behind it?
E: The song text tells about the frustration on old fashioned and traditional conventions of opera as an art form and willingness to bring it to the modern time. 
V: For us it represents the opera as an art form breaking its old and dusty conventions in a search of new existence in the present world. 

Describe the song with 4 words:
V: baroque aria meets AVICII

Singing that song live must be really hard, how do you prepare for it?
E:I've trained my vocal technic for many many years. It is challenging but it's something which is completely possible to bring through. Classical music is full of musical virtuosity but once you learn how to do it, it's there! Of course I have to keep my voice tuned all the time. Now the challenge is to combine singing and the choreography.
V: Essi is a professional opera singer. It's nothing out of the ordinary. She can do it come rain come shine. 
What can we expect to see on stage for the performance?
E: I'm performing with four male dancers, who represent old styles and forms in their expression. First they want to force me to their forms but I fight back looking for the change. At some point all the expression changes towards modern, liberated styles, old dusty opera houses collapse in our background and new modern rock'n roll stage is built for us.
V: A kick ass spectacle 

Do you already know what you are going to wear for the semifinal?
E: Something big, sexy and showy which combines elements from different styles and époques. We have dress designer Tyra Therman in our team who is on charge of the visuality. She is used to work on theatre and opera stages. 
V: Yes. Black slim fit Boss blazer, Gtie Jacob II neckwear, CK white shirt and Zara black tight pants. 
Tell me about the official video:
E: The official video wants to play with different esthetic looks and images. They also want to play with contradiction mixing different styles and not following purely any special era. It's not telling any particular story, it's pure eye candy.
V; It is the solely director Taku Kaskela's point of view. We also did our own music video. (Watch here:

Have you heard any of the other participants? any favorite?
E: I've listened all the other songs, My favorite is Solju.
V: Shava -band is full of my friends and Solju seems to be a somewhat interesting concept. 

Did you watch Eurovision 2014? who was your favorite?
E: I watched it partly. Conchita Wurst was good but I also liked e.g. Greek band.
V: Finnish softengine of course 

What do you like about Eurovision?
E: It's a tradition, which mustn't be forgotten. It's one of the biggest musical happenings in Europe and it can be a good possibility to break through internationally.
V: It's one of the few things that joins us Europeans together nowadays

What do you dislike about Eurovision?
E: The tastelessness and kitchyness.. 
V: It has sometimes more to do with the politics than the music. 
Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word:
Drama: Ancient GreeceA play
Pizza: Italy -  Roma
Stage: Work -  My work place
Fear: Waspsnot letting it rule you
Wind: bouncy plane rideWarm, not cold
Cat: Jesse (was my cat when I was small) I prefer dogs
Hashtag: the unknown and dubious social mediasocial media
Dreams: relaxingto be fulfilled
What are your plans for 2015?
E: I want to put as much effort as possible to succeed in this UMK competition. If we win, I think the rest of the spring is fully booked with preparing for the Eurovision Song contest. If we don't represent Finland in Vienna, normal artistic work continues with the concerts already booked for the spring. Opera Skaala's next production "Transit" will have its premier in Helsinki in May, so I'll be busy by preparing that.
V: We are going to see with Opera Skaala how deep this rabbit hole goes :)

Is there anything you want to say to close the interview?
E: Yes, I wanna wish everybody good vibes and mood while listening our song! All Finnish readers  of your blog I want to encourage to vote for us and Heart of light! And after all I wish for fair game on UMK! Let the best song and performance win! Kisses and hugs! Essi
V: I wish all the best for our readers and welcome to our site at:
Photo: Tiia Santavirta
Thanks to Essi and Visa for the interview! Good luck in UMK!

Heart of light
(Visa Oscar, Essi Luttinen, Janne Lehmusvuo)

"In the agony of my mind,
in the fury of my cry,
I try to reach the sky,
I'm blinded by
the heart of light.

Awakened couldn't see
my pride talking to me.
Where should I go, who should I be?
Regaining back to me,
gain back my dignity.

Striking back I fall,
crawling up I rise,
I don't agree to die.
In the heart of light 
I'll find my place."

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