Hi Christina, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi VENTS! I am great thanks! Keeping busy and excited about the release of my debut album ‘Blessing’ and coming back to the UK!
While many young fellows feel attracted to rather modern sounds – what is it about classical music that fascinates you that much?
I love all genres as long as the music makes me feel something. In classical music it really is an escape, a peaceful escape. One that allows you, to relax and close your mind. I believe there is a time for all genres and sometimes I love to be up jumping around to Above and Beyond (trance group) and other times sitting quietly relaxing to some Mozart. This is what I want to show young people, that it doesn’t matter the genre as long as it makes you feel something or stirs up something in your soul and for me a lot of classical music does that.
From all the songs out there, what made you to cover “Queen of the Night”?
I dreamt of singing since I was little! The “Queen of the night” aria is one of the most demanding arias for any singer. Most singers can’t reach the notes let alone have the control you have to have with all the runs. I love it because of that, I like any music that pushes my ability and pushes me to work harder and achieve it. It is also just a fantastic song!
What was the approach you were after with this rendition?
I was working with a manager at the time and we were doing a tour around Czech Republic & Slovakia with a small orchestra and an electic band and the tour was called “Queen and the Queen” songs from Queen the band and classical pieces. We all had an idea of using the Queen of the night aria and doing something modern with it, after all Mozart was the biggest “popstar” of his day and ahead of his time. So we tried to make it sound different for our modern generation.
How was the film experience?
Extremely cold! We filmed it at a castle in Czech Republic which had a huge forest of deer (friendly deer!). It was a cold March day (about 5 degrees!) and I had to sing live along with the track, in between drinking hot tea and wrapping in a blanket! But I really enjoyed it, creating something visual was fantastic for me.
The single comes off your new album Blessing – what’s the story behind the title?
I have been truly blessed with the ability to sing and when I sing I want to be a blessing for people. I have always wanted to be that innocence the world I believe, is sometimes lacking. I have often been described in Czech Republic by people including the President as an “angel” and I wanted the title of the album to represent who I am. I was lucky that my producer found this stunning piece called “Blessing” which I fell in love with and the title just seemed appropriate.
How did you choose what songs to pay homage?
I chose songs that meant something to me, that had touched my heart at some point. I was captivated by Caccini’s Ave Maria by Vavilov from the first time I heard it and every time I sing it there is something very powerful about it. I had no other choice but to include it! I also chose Laudate Dominum and Lascia Ch’io pianga because again I always feel they touch my heart and people’s hearts whenever I sing them.
How was the recording and re-imagination process?
The recording for the album was intensive and hard work as all of it was live with the orchestra. The re-imagination process for all the songs came long before the recording as I needed to know exactly what story I am telling, why I am telling it and what emotions I am trying to portray to the audience through the mics which is difficult as the audience can’t see you looking sad or happy, they have to hear it. Luckily being a coloratura there are lots of places to make embellishments and make the song really your own.
During the recording sessions there was a fantastic atmosphere and it was exciting each day walking into the sessions knowing we would be performing a “concert” for the mics! The conductor, Richard Hein, who is my teacher at Prague opera house was amazing and kept us all in check! The orchestra were fantastic to work with and all became like friends to me! It was a team effort and I loved every second of it!
Where, besides the original tracks, else did you find the inspiration for the songs on this album? Did you draw inspiration from any other composers or singers out there?
Music I had sung before or pieces I heard that made me feel inspired gave me inspiration. I am a huge fan of French Coloratura, Natalie Dessay and also of the French coloratura, Mado Robin (died in 1960) and I always listen to what they have sung as both of them have voices similar to my own. On this album I not only wanted inspirational music but also music that can show what my voice can do, that will push my voice to another level.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes I am so excited to be doing my album tour, which is called ‘The Miracle of the Voice UK Tour’
beginning on Spetember 23rd the day after the release of the album. I will have 10 concerts to begin with, all around the East of England from Aldeburgh to Chelmsford to Norwich to Peterborough. Tickets can be purchased at: www.ticketline.co.uk/christina-johnston
What else is happening next in Christina Johnston’s world?
I am back in the theatre in Prague on Octboer 19th for “Amadeus” singing as Katerina Cavalieri with the Prague Shakespeare Company, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (who feature on my album) and British conductor James Shearman! It is a fanastic broadway production in which for the first time ever includes live orchestra and singers on stage with the actors! I absolutely love it!
I am also moving back to the UK so there is lots to do there but hopefully I will be singing more and more in the UK! I would love one day to sing for Her Majesty!
Christina Johnston’s debut album ’Blessing’ – is released September 22nd on Tadlow Classics.