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Natalia to enchant Poland, London with opera

Friday, May 1, 2015
Natalia Dopwell wants to sing more original music that represents T&T’s culture.

Local coloratura soprano opera singer Natalia Dopwell has been invited to perform in Poland and the United Kingdom. Dopwell received an invitation from the Artistic Director of the ReFermata Festival to debut as a guest of the ReFermata society and the Chopin Society in Gdansk, Poland. Dopwell will be the featured vocalist at two concerts, one which took place yesterday in Ratusz Staromiejski for the Chopin Society and another on May 3 at the annual ReFormata Festival at St Florian Church in Kolbudy, Gdansk. 

This is a performance that has its roots in connections that Dopwell made in Peru over two years ago. “In 2012 I represented Trinidad at an operatic vocal competition in Peru and placed second overall,” she said. “At that competition I befriended many musicians, one of whom was the Polish pianist Dominika Glapiak. When she was touring the area a year later we performed a recital together here at the Central Bank. Now she has invited me to sing a recital with her in Gdansk, Poland as well as with the orchestra of the ReFermata Foundation of which she is Creative Director.” 

Dopwell started formal vocal training with June Nathaniel at age 15. A few months later, she entered the National music festival in the open Operatic aria category and placed third. “The rest is history, I was hooked!” she said. Over the years, Dopwell gained stage performance experience singing with the Love Movement and then later the Marionettes and Enrique Ali’s Diamond Chorale. Her next stop was New York where she pursued an undergraduate degree in classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music. 

“I got that opportunity thanks to the assistance by the Prime Minister’s Sport and Culture Fund,” she said. “After I graduated, I became Creative Director of the Classical Music Development Foundation and we launched the Young Artist Collective to produce full length and staged operas on the local stage.” Dopwell is indeed embracing her Caribbean culture and personifying it on a world stage. 

According to Dopwell, the Classical Music Development Foundation of T&T stepped up and commissioned LeGendre to write ten Songs of the Islands. Dopwell’s set list for Poland features the first two of LeGendre’s songs, both of which are based on settings from poems by Derek Walcott. The end of Dopwell’s tour will be in the United Kingdom where she will be performing a recital. Trinidadian Jacqueline Sealy who works with the BBC Performing Arts, which is hosting the recital, contacted her to perform. 

Dopwell is not just a performer but also a producer, a role that she manages by trusting in the work she has done to prepare beforehand, a strategy inspired by the experience of her vocal training. 

“Over the years I’ve been producer at many of the performances that I’ve appeared in, which means constantly managing many small details as well as the random catastrophic event that is par for the course with live performance,” she said. “What helps to get me centered is the ritual of applying my makeup backstage and I am calm once I know that I’ve done the necessary work beforehand so that I’m not nervous about the music I’m about to perform, and trusting my instrument so I’m not maniacally vocalizing out of nervousness backstage. 

Added to that I’m now a mother to a rambunctious two-year-old who has his own demands!” When Dopwell returns she will be focused on an upcoming two-week Opera Festival at the Queen’s Hall. “The CMDFTT is set to put on this festival at the end of June,” she said. “I will sing the role of Fiordiligi in a production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte.” 

Dopwell also teaches the Providence Girls school choir and sings at events. She maintains that meaningful work which is the key to her happiness. 


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