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Opera Singer Andrea Rost: From a Csepel Outskirts Music School to the Metropolitan Opera

Márton Jász 2021.04.09.

“It’s not a profession, it’s a vocation, it’s my duty to do that,” says world famous Hungarian soprano Andrea Rost about music in a short film presented by the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of Hungary Today. She then quickly adds: “It’s a pure feeling of luck when the audience applauds because they are happy. This means they received something, they are thankful for something.” The video portrays how Andrea Rost started her career as an opera singer and also reveals what mentality is needed to succeed as a world class singer. The short film is part of a series that introduces ten exceptional Hungarians, who through their skills and hard work, also became well-known abroad.

The Hungarian audience has been following the world-famous soprano’s career since 1989. She studied music at the Liszt Ferenc College of Music in Budapest as a student of Zsolt Bende. Rost was still a college student when she sang the role of Juliet in Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet, directed by Dénes Gulyás, as a scholarship holder of the Budapest Opera House.

I was in college, studying opera, and I sang the part of a little girl, Emmy, in a play with the title Albert Herring. I remember vividly when we rehearsed on stage for the first time and how I went onto the stage and was like “oh my God, oh my God!”

Two years later in 1991, she became a soloist at the Vienna State Opera, where she became well-known by the Viennese audience in several important roles. At the 1994 Rigoletto premiere at the Scala in Milan, to which Riccardo Muti invited her, she became a resounding international success.

The Hungarian Opera, Vienna State Opera, Salzburg Festival, and from there I eventually ended up at the Scala and to be honest, that was the moment the curtain to the world opened, so to say,

Andrea Rost recalls.

She was already a celebrated star when in 1995 she sang Pamina at the première of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the night of the season at La Scala to great acclaim. These roles were followed by Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata. In January 2006 she performed the role of Gilda several times at the Teatro alla Scala. She claims that her performance in Milan was a milestone in her career.

In regards to the opera singer’s success and the type of mentality which is needed for moving on, she argues that worrying about past mistakes is always a setback and we should concentrate on the future instead.

I try to leave the past behind. That is a bit more difficult in private life, but I realize more and more how much you have to live in the present and the future in order to get good results and to be happy.”

She then leads us to the island of Csepel, at the Saint Emeric place (Szent Imre tér), where she shows us the primary school in which she first started studying music and singing at the age of 14. Rost claimed that she received an enormous amount of support in this school and admits:

I wanted to become a Hollywood-actress or, I don’t know, some singer, because I didn’t even know what that meant, but I have always sung. I was born that way. Birth anomaly.”

Andrea also shows us a little house in which most of her singing lessons took place and she humorously adds:

Back then this was it, this little house, we had our singing lessons here. Well, today it’s some kind of storage. You can get to the Metropolitan from such places.”

Andrea Rost at the building where her singing lessons took place. Photo from the video.

She made her debut in the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1996 as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, later appearing there as Gilda, Lucia, and Violetta as well. She sang Antonia at the Washington Opera when they performed Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and appeared in the Los Angeles Opera in the same role. In March 2002, Rost sang Pamina from Mozart’s Magic Flute opera in Los Angeles. In April 2005 she performed as Pamina several times in Washington.

In regard to her achievements, Rost won the Liszt Prize in 1997 and also earned the Kossuth Prize in 2004. Moreover, she has been the holder of the title “Artist of Merit” since 1999.

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Featured photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI