Tea Purtseladze opened the opera Oscar nomination with legendary singer Andrea Bocelli in Venice on October 1st. We reached out to Tea to congratulate her on this wonderful accomplishment and chat with her about her career and future plans.
– First of all, introduce yourself.
Hello. My name is Tea Purtseladze. I was born and raised in Georgia, and I got my education here too – I am an opera singer. Now I live and work in Italy.
– Did you always want to be a singer? Tell us how you appeared on stage for the first time.
During my childhood I was involved in all kinds of activities – I took different courses, but I was mainly dancing and singing. There’s this one day I remember very well from when I was 14. There was a classical performance concert on television and I impulsively started singing along and realized that my voice sounded exactly like theirs. I was very pleased because of how naturally it came to me. I got this strong desire to be heard by someone competent in opera, but since we did not know anyone, it didn’t work out.
A couple of years passed, and my life changed completely. I got married and it just so happened that I found myself in a family of great geniuses like Amiran Shalikashvili. His wife was the incredible Kira Mebuke who, as I found out later, had an amazing mezzo-soprano voice in her youth. She also had a great desire to sing professionally, but it didn’t work out for her. Instead, she respectfully stood by her husband, studied the art of pantomime, and played a big role in the development of the theatre.
One day I was playing on the grand piano and I started singing along. Kira ran into the room and told me that I had an amazing voice and somebody should definitely hear it. I got filled with hope, but still had some doubts. On the second day, they took me to Tbilisi Opera House where Temur Gugushvili, the greatest Georgian singer of our time, listened to my voice and told me that it was quite an interesting one:
„This is the kind of voice that could have a great future and conquer the opera world.”
My life radically changed after that day. It was quite unexpected how the words of one person completely changed the direction and goals of my life.
So I studied the beautiful, but at the same time very hard and intense art of the opera. I’ll add that, in my profession, both moral and material support is very important, for which I thank my mother the most. If it weren’t for her, all of this would have never been possible.
– What does it feel like to perform in front of thousands of people?
Every time I step out in front of the audience I get the same feeling and I grow more and more certain that:
„This is what I always wanted to do.“
You experience pleasure and at the same time please hundreds or even thousands of people. It is a wonderful feeling.
– Why did you leave Georgia?
The reason I left Georgia was the great desire to evolve and step on the international stage. But I can boldly state that one of the best opera schools is in Georgia, and people admit it abroad as well. Georgian singers present themselves in front of the audiences highly prepared. That is the reason why some of the most famous and successful singers in the opera world are, in fact, Georgian.
One more reason for my departure is the fact that when I finished the Tbilisi National conservatory after Vano Javakhishvili, there was a renovation going on in our beloved opera theatre, and therefore it wasn’t functional.
– How would you describe Georgian opera?
Georgian opera – one of the things we should be proud of.
We have outstanding local soloists.
I am quite pleased by the fact that today it functions with full intensity. Apart from that, many new projects take place in Tbilisi Opera theatre that are associated with today’s art director Badri Maisuradze. Mr. Maisuradze is putting all of his efforts to manifest the Georgian theatre which obviously is a marvelous thing. I’d like to mention his recent successful project, the festival dedicated to J. Verdi. It is held in Parma annually, but this year the Georgian community got the opportunity to host the festival.
– Tell us about the road to your career development.
I think my first success was my first festival. When I was still a student I sang one of the hardest parts of Maro in outstanding Z. Paliashvili’s opera called “Daisi”. I still remember the viewers’ watery eyes and relentless applause. It was an amazing feeling I’ll always remember.
The next step in my career development took place in Italy. I left Georgia after finishing the conservatory. It was hard but interesting. My first success on the European stage was with the project “Taormina Opera Stars”.
There was an audition for the characters of J. Verdi’s famous opera “Traviata”. I was aiming for the main role of Violeta. I had to compete against 400 people for the role.
The performance was to be held in Sicily, in one of the oldest Greek theatres with enough room to accommodate more than 7 000 people. This project was unique because they were looking for three different Violetas each for one of the three acts. I got the most important – the third act. This meant that I had to close the play. It was a very exciting moment for me.
I would also like to mention the project that happened this summer, where I played a very important role in “Tosca” with a famous Tenor and opera star Marcello Giordani. Maestro himself expressed a desire to have me as his partner on stage. This performance caught a lot of attention. People wrote positive and pleasant critiques about me. The festival was called “The Sixth Sense.”
– What would you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
I’d wish to have known about the hardships related to this profession. It would’ve helped me overcome them more easily. But you can’t learn that without directly experiencing it. In our field, hard work and patience are the most important things.
– If I asked you to name the most important concert in your career what would it be?
My last concert that took place on October 1st in the theatre of Malibran, Venice. I opened the opera Oscar nomination with the legendary singer Andrea Bocelli.
– Against what challenges does the opera stand today and how do you see the road of its development?
I think that opera, in general, faces a great danger. It needs more attention. Less and less time is devoted to its popularization, which is very sad. It would be better if they introduced the art of opera in different educational institutions.
– What advice would you give to a beginner?
„Never give up!“
Trust me it’s hard, but great desire, hard work, and patience always pay off.
– How do you take care of your voice?
The hardest thing in this profession is probably regime. Your voice needs to be taken care of. For this reason, there are a lot of details to account for during the day: good night’s sleep, diet, calm atmosphere, not talking too much and so on. I often rejected many parties, hanging out with friends, and even telephone conversations.
– One opera that every person needs to see.
You know what, this depends on a person’s taste, like the music of which era you prefer. Also, it depends on the musicians, the director’s vision and the quality of the performance itself. What’s important is for these criteria to be on a high level and if so, then any performance is interesting and a must-see. But for me personally J. Verdi’s opera “Traviata” is the most outstanding one. I think everyone should see and listen to it.
– What is your biggest achievement?
Raising a good child – something I am very proud of!
– What is your biggest ambition?
Ambition? To help Georgia in any way I can, to contribute to manifesting its name.
– Could you describe your voice in three words?
Strong, lovely timbre, with perspective.
– The best advice you’ve ever gotten.
„Believe in your dreams. It doesn’t matter how unfeasible they seem.“
I always believed in these words and I still believe in my every dream. Based on personal experience, I can tell you that it works.
– Happiness is…
To spend your life amongst the people you love.
Translated by: Ana Mikatadze