Elbenita Kajtazi: my Glyndebourne journey
We spoke to Elbenita about her memories of competing in the Opera Cup, her love of the role of Adina and her excitement about returning to Glyndebourne this summer.
This summer she makes a triumphant return to Glyndebourne for her first appearance at the Glyndebourne Festival, giving five performances in the role of Adina in L’elisir d’amore.
Within just four years, Elbenita has gone from being one of the youngest members of the Young Artists programme at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, to becoming a member of the Aalto-Musiktheater in Essen, to joining the ensemble of the Hamburg State Opera in the 2018/19 season, where she has been performing a number of leading roles.
We spoke to her about her memories of competing in the Opera Cup, her love of the role of Adina and her excitement about returning to Glyndebourne this summer.
Everything about this competition is an amazing memory, from the moment I arrived in Lewes. When I went to the opera house to warm up and take part in the competition, everyone was so friendly and lovely, but my very special memory is when they said my name as the winner of the Audience Prize. That was the one moment that I started to shake – I could not believe that in a place that I had never performed before, the audience loved me and voted me for this prize.
The Opera Cup made me love Mozart even more than I did before and of course, it helped my career because it was a very high profile competition and everyone saw the success that I had achieved during this amazing week. I have sung in different places since then and I have many more contracts in the upcoming years.
When the competition was done, I came to Germany and debuted Violetta (La traviata) in Aalto Musiktheater, then started a new contract at the Staatsoper Hamburg, where I had the chance to debut my first Susanna from Le nozze di Figaro, my first Nannetta (Falstaff) in a new production, which was a very big success, and a lot of other very interesting roles. I debuted Sophie from Der Rosenkavalier in Santiago in Chile and travelled a lot in different countries to do auditions, which were very successful.
Elbenita Kajtazi as Violetta in La traviata at Aalto-Musiktheater Essen in 2018. Photographer Saad Hamza.
I am first of all looking forward to working with Enrique Mazzola and singing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in this beautiful opera house that has an amazing acoustic. I must say I am also looking forward to the beautiful weather, since it is going to be summer, and to have a picnic in the beautiful landscape of Glyndebourne.
I consider Adina a fun role, with a lot of beautiful arias, duets, beautiful coloratura written in an easy way for a soprano to sing. Every note that Donizetti wrote has a meaning, an expression of the character – a smart, strong girl who is able to decide for herself what she wants. Adina is a fun, inspirational, girl with a beautiful heart, and one that really knows how to love.
Elbenita Kajtazi in the role of Adina in L’elisir d’amore at Aalto-Musiktheater Essen in 2017. Photographer Saad Hamza.
I love this opera a lot. The whole opera is beautiful and lots of fun to sing, but my favourite part is the beginning when Adina reads Tristan and Isolde and the end when she expresses the big love she feels for Nemorino. I love these two parts because they are different from each other, in the beginning, Adina is a spoiled rich girl who does not even look at Nemorino and in the end, she is madly in love with him.
Right after the run of L’elisir in Glyndebourne, I will fly to Salzburg to be part of the Salzburger Festspiele with two concerts where I will be singing Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. I then return to Violetta from La traviata and make my French debut at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. After that, back to Hamburg and continue with Musetta, Gretel, Nayade and Pamina.
Like every opera singer, my ambition is to develop my repertoire, to work on roles I have always dreamed of singing and to debut in the opera houses I have not yet sung in… step by step, and with a lot of passion and work, everything is achievable.