Grisha Martirosyan is currently taking part in the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition. In the midst of his journey towards victory, we had a conversation with this gifted young baritone. During our chat, he shared his experiences, thoughts on the opera industry, and exciting plans for the upcoming season. (Hint: they're big!)
Congratulations on recently winning first place at The 3rd International Virgilijus Noreika Competition for Singers! Could you tell us about your experience competing, and what winning this prize means to you as an opera singer?
This was the third international competition I have ever taken part in and although difficult to believe, I was lucky to win all three of them. It feels wonderful to be presented with prizes and feel valued, but the hard preparatory work behind every competition and the ability to control the emotional aspect of the performance was not so easy. I find that in an international competition, only talent is not enough, one needs to also be very lucky. The preparation was the key - I spent months preparing for all three of them with the team at the Mascarade Emerging Artists programme. First I was competing with myself to be better than I was yesterday, then I was training myself not to compete with anyone else. It was/ is tough to remind oneself not to compare to others…
Winning this prize is an indication that my hard work paid off. This recognition gave me great motivation to continue and I am very excited about the future.
You are currently finishing your second year at the Mascarade Emerging Artists programme in Florence. Can you share with us some of the most memorable experiences you've had during your time in it?
I have spent two absolutely wonderful years in Florence as a Mascarade artist absorbing new information in a size I have never ever learnt before. Coming from a non-European country I had a lot of catching up to do with language and general culture. The journey of my development is incredible and full of special moments that I will cherish all my life. Mascarade and Florence have been pivotal moments in my life thanks to the care and enthusiastic support I received from the team.
One of the most memorable moments of my time as a Mascarade artist was taking part in my very first international competition, the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin in August 2022, where I received the 1st Prize. Not only was it my first int. competition which I ended up winning, but I also won a number of special prizes, and what's absolutely wonderful is that all three main prizes were taken by Mascarade artists. My colleagues Aebh Kelly and Aaron Godfrey-Mayes won the 2nd and the 3rd prizes respectively which was a huge achievement for all of us.
What do you think are some of the most significant challenges facing young opera singers today, and how do you navigate these challenges in your own career?
The biggest challenge for young singers is the lack of time and support towards growing naturally, gaining experience and maturing into our optimal artistic form. It feels like there is an obsession around making singers jump ahead, fast track on the preparation and an intention to push us ahead of our time. It always fascinates me when in a casting/ audition situation there is always a conversation about the age. The age of the singer is the most irrelevant topic in my opinion, how we do our job or what kind of support we need to do our best job is more important, however, the age is what people in the casting positions are obsessing about.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Jette Parker Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and what do you hope to achieve during your time there?
The Royal Opera House is a legendary theatre, one which needs no introduction. It is just a great privilege to be able to work there and have a chance to observe all the knowledge and experience it has to offer to someone like me.
I have all the greatest hopes which include observing and learning from endlessly talented artists, continuing to explore my artistic identity in a professional environment, exploring how a theatre of a top calibre works and finding out how to build a relationship with the audience. I am hoping by the end of the programme I will have an idea about who I am and how I can impact this world to make it a better place!