Eurovision star excitedby first trip to China

AT 1.8-meters tall and slim, 27-year-old Elina Nechayeva may not fit the normal image of a soprano, but her voice has always, without question, proved her identity.

Elina Nechayeva

AT 1.8-meters tall and slim, 27-year-old Elina Nechayeva may not fit the normal image of a soprano, but her voice has always, without question, proved her identity.

“I may look slim, but I am not weak. My vocal cords are powerful, and that’s my best instrument,” she said says.

The Estonian singer demonstrated her power at the 2019 New Year Concert at Shanghai Grand Theater. She collaborated with Estonian conductor Neeme Jarvi in works that included “Der Holle Rache” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Boheme,” “Doll Song” from Offenbach’s “Les Contes D’Hoffmann,” as well as her signature song “La Forza” performed at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Born in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, Nechayeva’s gift for singing was discovered early. She was recruited by a children’s choir at 4, and took professional lessons from the age of 14. After gaining her bachelor’s degree at Tallinn University, Nechayeva furthered her studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater.

Nechayeva made her name playing Giannetta in Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” in 2015. And her singing of “La Forza,” with lyrics by herself, at Eurovision spread her fame further afield.

“It was a big singing contest with more than 22 million people watching at the same time,” said Nechayeva. She remembered taking more than 150 interviews in different languages during a two-week period, and feeling at home with singers from many different countries.

“Though we came from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds and languages, all the barriers just amazingly disappeared the moment we stepped on that stage,” Nechayeva said.

She was just as excited about her first trip to China.

“I wanted to have a great view from the tallest building in Shanghai; I wanted to travel around all the colorful streets, and as an art fan, I was much looking forward to visiting the museums in the metropolis,” Nechayeva said.

She said that she might soon collaborate with Australian-Chinese tenor Wang Kang, who she met last year at a concert in her home country.

“His interpretation of traditional Chinese music at the concert was very impressive. I am very looking forward to our collaboration,” she said.

To perform at her best on stage, Nechayeva practices for up to 4 hours a day. In addition to vocal training, she also spent much time studying the backgrounds and details of particular works, so as to help her better understand the lyrics, character and melodies.

Yet singing is not the soprano’s only interest.

Nechayeva is a sporty girl who loves yoga, jogging, horse-riding, diving, rock climbing and skiing. She is also a big fan of Disney and Hayao Miyazaki, especially the Japanese animator’s “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away.”

“I was so attracted to Miyazaki’s animation that I studied the Japanese language for three years at school,” said Nechayeva. Apart from Japanese, Nechayeva can also speak Russian, English, French and Italian.

“It is a basic skill for a soprano to know a few different languages, as it helps you understand the lyrics and music better,” she said.

During her first visit to China, Nechayeva was enraptured by the language.

“With different tones, there is a sense of melody in Chinese language, which is so beautiful,” she said. “I might start learning Chinese sometime in the near future.”

Ti Gong

Elina Nechayeva with Estonian conductor Neeme Jarvi in Shanghai. 

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