What can propel a young gifted artist to stardom? Talent can be found anywhere in the world, from huge metropolises to the globe’s most remote corners. Wealth and connections are usually what make the difference. Take Oscar-winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis (daughter of ’60s film stars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh) who, after being cast in her first feature at the age of 19 and over 40 years of working in Hollywood, has unapologetically declared herself the “OG Nepo Baby”. 24-year-old Armenian baritone Grisha Martirosyan has had nothing but luck on his side to match his extraordinary talent as an opera singer. Now in his second year at Mascarade Emerging Artists here in Florence, a programme designed specifically for the world’s most promising young opera singers and répétiteurs, Grisha has already caught the global opera industry’s attention after winning the first prize, audience prize and the Dame Joan Sutherland Prize for the singer with the most potential aged 25 and under at the 2022 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin, adjudicated by an esteemed jury including renowned conductor Richard Bonynge AC CBE, as well as the second prize and audience prize at the 2022 Concorso Lirico Magda Olivero in Milan. These and other achievements have already won the budding performer a contract with global talent agency TACT Artists Management.
Julia Lynch, Head of Music at Mascarade, thinks his talent sings for itself. “Grisha is one of the most receptive young artists I have encountered in my 30-year career helping to develop singers. He brings such an open mindset to each session, such a thirst to develop, so that he can practise the art he lives for.” Those who have seen him in concert at the Palazzo Corsini al Prato have described Grisha as an “intensely compelling performer”, an artist who “combines a thrilling voice with a profound stage presence” and “can move audiences to tears or laughter with equal ease; this alchemy is rare and important.” We caught up with Grisha to ask him a few questions while he is still here in Florence before his imminent move to London, where he has been offered a place on the Jette Parker Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
When did you first recognise that you had a talent for singing?
I first discovered my voice only after graduating from school. I was admitted to the Yerevan State Conservatoire in my homeland of Armenia and started to consider a career as a classical singer while I was at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as an Erasmus+ exchange student.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as a singer?
Singing in the world’s most beautiful theatres with the greatest musicians is a dream I share with many of my colleagues, but it wouldn’t mean anything without my conviction that the art I make, the music that finds a new life through my voice, is a chance for people to reconnect with exquisite masterpieces.
What have you learned from living and training in Florence and what’s next for you?
Florence has allowed me to connect with Italian opera and culture. My time at Mascarade has been the happiest time of my life so far and it has proved to be the foundation of my career. I am looking forward to the Mascarade Emerging Artists showcase at La Fenice in Venice this May. This summer, I am making my debut at Salzburg Festspiele in Verdi’s Macbeth. From September, I will be living in London and working at the Royal Opera House. Exciting times ahead!