I was born in Estonia. The greatest passions in my life - classical music, especially opera, and foreign languages, date to my early childhood. These two passions have merged in my current profession, which continues to fascinate and astonish me every day.
I was introduced to music by my grandparents, who had a piano at home and who were classical music lovers. My grandfather used to make me listen to symphony and chamber music concerts on the radio, and especially operas. It was with them that I first put my hands on the piano. As my studies progressed, I realised that I actually had little interest in the purely piano repertoire. I didn't like performing alone and I was always looking for someone to make music with. So, I often found myself accompanying my instrumentalist friends and even the choir of my school.
SINGING AND OPERA
When I was 11, my grandfather gave me my very first opera recording - it was Giuseppe Verdi's 'Aida' conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The combination of orchestral music, dramatic action and the human voice immediately seemed to me to be a mysterious world that needed to be explored. Since then, I have never stopped loving this art form.
Although I was studying piano, my passion for the human voice and opera did not vanish. I was lucky enough to meet teachers who always respected my preference for chamber music and especially opera. Even, with one of them, there was a "secret agreement" - if I had played a Mozart Sonata well, at the end of the lesson she would make me sight-read Tosca or La bohème. And so, we made our way through practically all the basic operatic repertoire - from Mozart to Verdi and Puccini. Once at home, I listened to the recordings of these operas and tried to imitate them on the piano. With hindsight - my good sightreading skills probably developed right around that time.
But this was not enough for me. Opera attracted me so much, that I decided to study singing seriously as well, eventually graduating from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with a degree in Opera Singing.
In 2000, I moved to Rome, Italy. The birthplace of opera and especially the Italian language had always been in my dreams. Even as a young boy, I had begun to study Italian from Verdi's librettos. In Italy, I studied singing at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and then continued privately with soprano Adriana Giunta in Rome.
My singing career was short but gave me much satisfaction. I have sung in the most important Italian institutions, such as the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Teatro del Maggio Fiorentino, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, under the direction of conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano, Zubin Mehta. For my training, this was a very fruitful period; every rehearsal, every concert was a great music lesson for me.
I debuted some roles such as Alfredo in Traviata, Tamino in Zauberflöte, Ramiro in Cenerentola and others, but in the end I realised that this was not the kind of career for me. I didn't have the right character, I didn't like being in the spotlight and I was increasingly attracted to working behind the scenes.
I've always liked languages. I don't know if I can call myself a polyglot, but I currently speak eight languages, four of them fluently. Currently living in Rome, my daily language is Italian, but I use at least three others every day: Estonian, English and German.
In Estonia, I attended a language school where I studied Russian and Finnish, among others. In Rome, I also studied French at the Institut Français Saint Louis.
In addition, for two years I have been studying Japanese.
After more than twenty years of living in Rome, Italian has become my second language. As soon as I arrived in Italy in 2000 I felt the absolute necessity to deepen my knowledge of this language. So, I studied first at the University for Foreigners of Perugia and then at the University of "Roma Tre" attending the three-year course of Italian Language and Literature. It was a very stimulating time - getting into the folds of the language, its phonetics; learning about the poetry and literature of this country made me understand many things about the genre I love: opera.
PIANIST AND VOCAL COACH
Throughout my vocal studies, I continued to work contemporaneously as a pianist. My first 'official' experience as a piano accompanist dates back to 1995: at the age of 19, I was one of the pianists in a summer course for singers.
During my years of study at the Academy of Music and afterwards, no matter which theatre I went to, I always ended up at the piano, helping fellow singers to practice. They told me I was a different kind of pianist, that I understood them, and that I was able to offer them exactly what they needed.
So, I decided to 'surrender' to my destiny and go back to the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where I graduated as 'Maestro sostituto e Korrepetitor' with top marks, honours and an honourable mention. I had finally found my place.
After graduating, I decided to devote myself entirely to my work as a pianist and musical assistant, specialising in opera. I have collaborated on numerous singing classes, accompanied many master classes, and played in various opera productions. In 2019, I was the piano accompanist for singing classes at the Conservatory of Latina.
I have prepared singers for productions of many theatres, some of them amongst the most prestigious in the world: Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Teatro Real de Madrid, Oper Graz, Portland Opera, Oper Bonn, Teatro Regio di Torino, Estonian National Opera, Grafenegg Festival, Teatro Regio di Parma, Festival Aix-en-Provence and many others.
Since 2017 I have been the musical director of the opera studio Opera Veto in Tallinn.
Since 2020 I have an ongoing collaboration for the preparation of singers with the theatre "Vanemuine" in Tartu (Estonia) and I regularly lead the courses for Collaborative Piano students at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
MASTER OR PUPIL?
Today I am called Maestro, but as soon as a rehearsal or session ends, I become a student again.
When I am contacted by a singer to practice a role or piece of music, I immediately go to the piano. I read, I study, I play - it always seems to me that there is still so much to discover. During rehearsals with voice teachers, conductors or directors, I am constantly discovering new details.
After many years in the business, I am still as fascinated and curious about my profession as I was when, as a boy, thanks to that 'secret' agreement with my teacher, I discovered this infinite, universal world of sounds.