The life of Kishani Jayasinghe can only be described as hectic.
Whether she is performing at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden or flying to and fro to opera houses across the world, Kishani was, is and always will be, a very busy girl.
“And I love every moment of it!” she exclaims. One of Kishani’s guiding principles is to live life to the fullest and not have any regrets. A brief glimpse at a day in the life of this young opera singer would tell you, however, that she takes the concept of living life to the fullest to a whole new level.
Currently attending the Royal Academy of Music, Kishani is also the first Sri Lankan to have performed at the Royal Opera House.
Kishani is to perform for her audience at home, on January 9 at 7.30 p.m. at the Lionel Wendt. (Doors will close at 7.25 p.m.)
“Singing for an audience that comprises my friends and family is something very special to me,” she says. “Yet, it is also a little nerve wracking, in that I feel there is far more pressure on me to pull off a performance that everyone will really enjoy.”
This, in fact, is part of the pleasure and joy Kishani gets from her singing. “A golden rule I have set for myself,” she declares, “is that as long as you sing, you must have that incredible joy of singing – that sense of knowing that you are putting your best into the performance, as well as knowing that your audience enjoys what it hears. For me, if that joy is not there, there is no point in singing.”
The joy has always been there for Kishani from the time she, as a five-year-old knew the entire musical score of the Sound of Music.
“Singing always had a special place in my life from then on,” she recalls. Always an active student, Kishani not only sang but was heavily involved in athletics and other extra-curricular activities, in addition to being Head Girl at Visakha Vidyalaya.
Trained by Mary Anne David, Kishani never ceases to appreciate the impact her teacher had on her life. “Not only did she bring out the best in me as a performer; she protected my voice and also taught me valuable lessons on the more practical aspects of a performance such as appearance.” Appearance, according to Kishani is an important consideration because unlike a performance by a musician – where focus is mainly on the instrument, a singer’s “instrument” is inside, and therefore appearance is important to complete the whole package.
Describing herself as something of a stability girl, Kishani’s first career choice was to be a lawyer. All went well until, while enrolled in an LLM programme at Nottingham University, she was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. “It was a huge decision for me to make at the time; I was very keen on the idea but was a little apprehensive of the stability of the job.”
Having consulted her family who were extremely supportive right from the beginning, she made her decision- to set aside five years in which she would dedicate all her time and effort to singing. “I resolved that if nothing spectacular happened within that period, I would go back to my career as a lawyer.”
Something spectacular did happen though – a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform where classical music greats have performed, and to perform some of the opera’s favourite roles. Her favourite by far though is that of Mimi in La Boheme. “Her role has everything a role could ask for, and I absolutely love the music! My voice is not mature enough to do Mimi justice right now though.”
Her upcoming concert -- An Evening with Kishani -- will be in four parts…..music from around the world, songs by the operatic heroines of Mozart, Puccini and a surprise element to close the show. Kishani will be accompanied by Christopher Glynn, a brilliant and prolific accompanist.
Tickets for the show have already been sold out, and it is safe to say that Colombo now eagerly awaits Kishani’s next performance.
Singing for the Prince
A recent highlight of Kishani’s career was singing at Buckingham Palace at the birthday of Prince Charles on November 23.
“It was one of those experiences where you really appreciate the sense of being an ambassador for your country. I was the only one there who was dressed in a saree and the Prince was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sri Lanka has opera singers! And I feel that we have a vast untapped source of talent here that not many people know of,” said Kishani.
All about the accompanist
Christopher Glynn is recognised as an outstanding pianist and accompanist, performing regularly with many leading singers and instrumentalists in concerts, broadcasts and recordings throughout Europe and further afield.
He is described by Kishani as having the flair and ability to play almost anything to perfection.
He has performed in recital with singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Matthew Best, Claire Booth, Susan Bullock, Sine Bundgaard, Allan Clayton, Ronan Collett, Lucy Crowe, Michael George, Darren Jeffery, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Jonas Kaufmann, Julie Kennard, Andrew Kennedy, Yvonne Kenny, Rufus Muller, Robert Murray and many more. Chris has also partnered many well-known instrumentalists.
Chris made his debut at Wigmore Hall in London in 2001 and has since performed there many times as well as in all the main UK concert halls and in major concert venues and festivals throughout Europe and in the Far East.
His many awards include the piano accompaniment prize in the 2001 Kathleen Ferrier competition and the 2003 Gerald Moore award.
He is a Professor at the Royal College of Music and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music; he is also an official pianist for the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels and has an ongoing association with the Samling Foundation.