Ilona Revolskaya

Revolskaya photo by Peter M. Mayr.jpg

Course Studied: Postgraduate Diploma in Music (Performance)

Year of Graduation: 2016

Top Career Achievements:

  • Performance for the opening of the Russian Revolution exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vovka Ashkenazy, and Vadym Repin.
  • Singing for the opening of the Susie Sainsbury Theater at the Royal Academy of Music in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal Chancellor, the University of London, and Royal Academy of Music president HRH the Duchess of Gloucester.
  • Concert Performance of Peter Schmoll by Carl Maria von Weber with ORF Radio-Orchestra under the baton of Roberto Paternostro, with live CD production at Theater and der Wien.

Hailing from Russia, Ilona Revolskaya made her operatic debut as Brigitta during a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta at the Moscow Conservatory Opera Studio. Since then, Ilona has forged a successful career as an opera singer. In 2018, she joined the infamous Theater an der Wien, located in the Austrian capital, as a young principal soloist.

A former student on our postgraduate diploma, Ilona discusses her experiences of the operatic world and studying internationally: 

What made you decide to study music in the UK?

It is always beneficial to dig in and to understand a different culture. I had this idea for a while before moving to the UK. I am very glad that I made this decision because it expanded my boundaries – both personal as well as professional. 

How does the approach vary to that in Russia?

There is a colossal difference. Russian education in general is more conservative. I found that studying voice was more straightforward and concentrated mostly around performance practice, whereas in England there are always new ideas explored and more attention is given to details such as style, technique and language.

What opportunities did postgraduate study at Leeds Conservatoire provide?

I had a unique opportunity to meet and collaborate with many great musicians during my time in Leeds. I had the chance to participate in several masterclasses with top professionals in the music industry. We were also encouraged as students to work together and overcome potential barriers between different genres - for example pop, jazz and opera. 

Also, Leeds Conservatoire provides amazing professional facilities: recording studios, performance venues, digital resources, practice spaces and a well-equipped library.

The most important lesson I learnt was being carefully guided by great lecturers on how to apply knowledge learnt in the context of real life. 

At what stage did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in operatic singing?

I always had a passion for singing, as far back as I remember. However, there was time when I hesitated between choosing a career in opera and pop music. As you can imagine, opera won! 

What is your favourite opera and why?

It is difficult to pick one. For now it would be “Aleko” by Sergei Rachmaninov. I love its freedom of spirit against tyranny, and there’s some hauntingly beautiful music!

You’ve participated in many competitions (e.g. Pietro ArgentoOperetta-Land) and received many accolades for your studies and work. How important is this for securing future roles?

I have had experience of participating in competitions. However, I don’t think it is important - because in the end it’s what you have to express that is what matters. Competitions are a big part of classical music and the operatic world today, but winning them does not guarantee a successful career. 

How did the opportunity to become a young principal soloist at Theater an der Wien/Wiener Kammeroper arise?

After sending my recording in I was chosen for a live audition. I took a plane to Vienna, spent half a day there, sung for a panel, and returned to London. A few months later I received a call. It was unbelievable to have been chosen from almost 500 other singers! 

What does this role involve? 

This is a two-year fixed full-time position, which includes at least four fully staged opera productions per season, as well as extra concerts, participation in events, and more. All this helps provide a kick-start in the industry and a great deal of invaluable professional experience.

What advice would you give someone wishing to pursue a career in opera?

The advice would be the one which the great conductor Sir Richard Bonynge gave me: “Don’t aim to be famous, aim to be a good musician”. 

Leeds Conservatoire has recently announced a partnership with Opera North. How do you think this will benefit the local operatic scene in the North of England? 

I think it is a great idea and a fantastic opportunity for the development of opera in the region. Partnerships like this are extremely important for developing future talent, and I hope it will provide many students and local alumni with an opportunity to enter into the professional world! 

Discover more about Ilona’s work via her website.

Find out more about our partnership with Opera North.

Or why not learn more about our Postgraduate Diploma and MMus Creative Musician programme

Find out more about what our successful graduates have been up to in our Alumni Profiles

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