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Micaëla Oeste, Soprano, since October 2021.
The Limburger, July 1st 2023. By Ronald Colee. Soprano Micaëla Oeste of the Johann Strauss Orchestra. On the recommendation of Plácido Domingo, Micaëla Oeste was allowed to audition with André Rieu: 'The best moment is when you can hear a pin drop on the Vrijthof' Soprano Micaëla Oeste is part of the Johann Strauss Orchestra for the second year in a row. The singer, born in Pforzheim in Germany, is very much looking forward to the Vrijthof concerts. “Under that blue sky at that setting sun, something magical happens.” With a father and mother who were opera singers, it was clear that music would be the common thread in Micaëla Oeste's life. Very early in fact. “When I was born, I was given the name Micaëla. Without h. Just like in my mother's favorite aria from Carmen.” She was six years old when she first took piano lessons, followed four years later by the Waldhorn. “That has always been my main instrument until my father once conducted La Bohème and there was a shortage of singers for the choir. From that moment on I knew: this is it. That stage, those sets, those costumes, that light and then that story in that foreign language that you get to convey to the audience in three hours. That is different from sitting with your horn in the orchestra pit. Although I still think it's a beautiful instrument. When Lars Wachelder found out here in the orchestra that I used to play horn, he immediately wanted me to try again. But I haven't dared to do that yet.” Micaëla Oeste has been singing with André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra since October 2021. Plácido Domingo. 'Here in the orchestra' is André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra, of which Oeste, who emigrated from Germany with her parents to the US at the age of five, has been part of, as a soprano since October 2021. “After high school, I studied singing in Arkansas, after which I received my master's degree in Chicago. During one of the many summer schools I attended for singers, a consultant from Plácido Domingo heard me sing, after which he invited me to participate in Plácido's two-year training program for young talents.” There she learned all the tricks of the trade and also discovered her love for concert performances. “A completely different kind of sport. In an opera you have three hours to convey your story to the audience, as a soloist during a concert only four minutes. That means you have to be right there. Evening after evening. While you often only perform an opera once every three or four months.” Letter of recommendation The Spanish opera singer who, together with José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, made a splash as one of the Three Tenors in the 1990s, took her under his wing. “I traveled the world with him for over ten years. And we still have good contact. For example, last October I was on stage with him in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (Germany). But I wanted to perform more than a few times a year, but yes… Plácido is already 82.” It was a personal letter of recommendation from her world-famous teacher that eventually opened the doors for Micaëla to the Johann Strauss Orchestra. “He wrote to André: ‘Just listen to her once. She can really do anything.’ A few months later I got a call: can you come for an audition next week?” Pianissimo The rest is history. “I sang O mio babbino caro by Puccini and I think that André and Frank then fell for my ability to sing very softly – pianissimo – and to adjust my phrasing, whereby I breathe very short and silently, so that it seems like I can hold a note for a very long time. A week later I was asked again to come to Maastricht to sing with the orchestra and see if I would match, not only musically but also socially with the other members.” In total, Oeste spends about 25 minutes on stage with the Johann Strauss Orchestra every evening. “I sing a song with the two other sopranos, Madieke Marjon and Anna Majrchzak, one with the sopranos and tenors, then I sing another aria – Caro Nome from Verdi's Rigoletto – on my own and finally two more encores with the whole orchestra.” Because she is now on-stage night after night, she can also try things out. “To see what works best. If I am a little sad, I try to put that emotion in my singing.” Horse riding The blonde is not afraid to fail, thanks to another great hobby: horse riding. “I love being out in nature and galloping through the woods on horseback. That is quite dangerous, because if the horse panics for whatever reason and I panic along with it, it could well end fatally. So, it's important to always stay calm, no matter what and move with it. I also call that the art of letting go: the art of letting go. A skill that also comes in handy when you are on stage with sixty musicians behind you. Then you also have to be very flexible, be aware of your surroundings and keep a cool head at all times and, for example, not get confused if a mobile phone rings in the middle of your performance.” If that succeeds, it will also transfer to the public, according to Oeste. “The strength of the Johann Strauss Orchestra lies in the fact that the audience also feels that it can leave everything behind for a while. Being in the moment where joy is the common thread. There are all kinds of stories hidden in the orchestra so that everyone in the audience can experience a pleasant evening. Be it a lawyer or a nurse. André feels that flawlessly. He knows his audience like no other. Then he says, for example: try this out tonight. Then I think: would that really work? And yes, then it works. Always. His feeling has never failed him.” Micaëla Oeste found her love Dave last year in Manchester among the audience. Current friend She experienced herself in Manchester last April, that an evening with the Johann Strauss Orchestra can lead to special moments. There she met her current boyfriend in the audience: rugby player and landscape gardener Dave. “After a concert I always browse Instagram on the hashtag André Rieu to see how the audience has experienced our performance. Then I came across a photo of Dave from Oxford who had come to the concert with his family for their mother's birthday. Well, I thought, that's a handsome man. So, I liked the photo and Dave responded and we haven't stopped emailing.” Laughing: “When we met for the first time, he showed me the videos he had made with his phone during the concert. It turned out that there had been some interest on his part during the concert, ha, ha. In the meantime, he has become a kind of groupie of the orchestra. What a story huh. And André loves it.” Oeste has been living in Maastricht since February, where the Vrijthof concerts start on Thursday July 6th. An annual highlight, not only for the audience, but also for the members of the orchestra. “Singing under a starry sky, where the sun has just set and you feel the wind brushing through your hair is special. Especially on this beautiful square with the beautifully lit churches, the full terraces. You get the idea that you are not only performing for the public on the square, but for the entire city. There's something magical about that." Micaëla Oeste sings 'Caro Nome' during the Vrijthof concerts. “Getting twelve thousand people silent for three seconds with your singing is the best thing there is.” Best friend This year, her best friend Vanessa is also in the audience. “She has already been to a concert by André Rieu in the United States, and loved it. Those balloons that came down at the end, waving along on Adieu, mein kleiner Gardeoffizier. And then we take it a step further here – bagpipers, gospel choir, fireworks – making it a kind of holy grail.” Oeste herself hopes to contribute an extra bit to this with her aria. “Caro Nome is very technical. So, I have to make sure to get in the right mood, to feel completely free and calm. When I take a little longer break between two notes and you can hear a pin drop, I know I've succeeded. Making twelve thousand people silent for three seconds with your singing is the best thing there is.”
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