Welcome back to our series celebrating Women’s History Month! This time, let’s meet award-winning Greek soprano Maria Kostraki.
By: Athina Pantazatou
Women’s History Month: Maria Kostraki
Happy Women’s History Month! Continuing in our series highlighting several contemporary Greek women who are blazing trails in their field, let’s meet award-winning soprano Maria Kostraki.
Maria Kostraki: Sought-after soprano
Maria Kostraki is an outstanding Greek soprano, currently residing in Munich, Germany. She was born in Veria, Greece and trained in Munich and Wuerzburg by Birit Nickl, Krisztina Laki and Prof. Cheryl Studer. The young singer continues to hone her skills attending master classes with Dimitra Theodossiou, Renato Bruson, Aris Christofellis and Mariella Devia.
Since her debut in 2005, the international award-winning singer has appeared in numerous productions. She’s garnered awards at 12th International Competition for Lyrical Singers “Giuseppe di Stefano” in Trapani (Sicily), and at the 22nd National Chamber Music Vocal Competition “Città di Conegliano” in Conegliano (Treviso). She also earned honors at the 2008 European Community Competition for Young Opera Singers by the Experimental Lyric Theatre “Adriano Belli” in Spoleto (Perugia); in 2012 at the 5th International Opera Singing Competition “Arte in Canto” in Basciano (Teramo); and in 2014 at the 6th International Opera Competition “Ruggiero Leoncavallo” in Potenza. Meanwhile, she’s been awarded scholarships at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall (in 2007-08) and at the Athens Concert Hall (in 2010-11).
An impressive repertoire
Over the years, she’s appeared as Norina in “Don Pasquale” Despina in “Cosi fan tutte” and Servilia in “La clemenza di Tito”, Belinda in “Dido & Aeneas”, Clorinda in “La Cenerentola”, and Echo in “Ariadne auf Naxos”, all at the Munich Chamber Opera (Kammeroper).
As a member of the Nuremberg Theatre Company (Opernhaus-Staatstheater Nürnberg) she played the role of High Priestess in “Aida”, Juliette in “The Dead City”, and Countess Stasi in “The Gypsy Princess”, while being a very successful understudy for Mimì in “La Bohème”.
Until October 2010, she also had a permanent engagement with the Gian Carlo Menotti New Theater in Spoleto, Italy. There, she performed as Adina in “The Elixir of Love” and Micaela in “Carmen”. Another notable moment was her participation in the opera “The Journey to Reims, or The Hotel of the Golden Fleur-de-lis” at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro when she was chosen by the famous conductor and musicologist Alberto Zedda for the leading role of Madama Cortese. In 2015 she was distinguished for her role as Hanna Glawari in “The Merry Widow” in the theaters of Giglio Piazza in Lucca (Tuscany) and Goldoni in Livorno.
Other than Alberto Zedda (renowned for his research on vocal ornamentation) her collaborations with internationally acclaimed conductors include Alessandro de Marchi, Andrea Battistoni, Nicola Paszkowski, Giovanni Pacor, Christoph Perick, and the artistic director of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, Georgios Vranos.
In 2010, she released her first album of chamber music by composers like Rossini, Puccini, Catalani, Zandonai, and Leoncavallo for the Asian market. In 2015-16 she released two records, “Deësis” and “Stimmen”, with Cavafy poetry set to music in Greek, German, and English by composer Athanasios Simoglou.
Talent + hard work = success
But Maria Kostraki’s massive talent is not the only reason for her success. When asked about what it takes to be established in her field of work, she was very particular about how diligent one needs to be to meet utmost high standards.
“A voice on its own is not enough to ‘build’ an artist! Technical vocal studies are also necessary, studies on the styles of every era in music, theater, and dance as well as general studies in literature, poetry, and philosophy—the lyric singer is an amalgamation of artists!”
She stated that the latest economic conditions in Europe have generally not helped artistic professions. For women, she said family obligations also come into play. It takes great love and dedication to juggle a career and family life and women are often called to find balance between the two. This balance is important because mental calmness directly affects an artist’s work.
“Classical singing is a kind of championship. You need to be careful with your health and physical condition, keep a clear mind and be vigilant.”
The soprano has just finished a production in Munich, where she played Pamina in “The Magic Flute” and has already begun her next project with the Greek National Opera in Athens, playing the first of the Three Ladies in a new production of the same name. At the same time, she’s preparing an opera gala in Schleissheim Palace in Munich and an anniversary concert for G. Rossini with the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra.
Maria Kostraki: Greek soprano taking the world by storm
Maria Kostraki has already forged an impressive career, but definitely look for more exciting things to come from this award-winning Greek soprano!
Athina Pantazatou has studied English & American Literature and is an EFL/ESOL Teacher. She combined teaching and working as an executive secretary, in a big advertising company and a law firm, for several years. She is currently a freelance feature writer, technical translator, and copy & content editor. She started blogging on Kicking Back the Pebbles, in April 2012 as a creative outlet for her to express her love for all things food, homemaking & traveling. Passionate about nature & culture, she’s happy to take you on a virtual tour of all the places she visits.
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