In the latest of a new series of Q&A’s with some of Wales’s leading artists, musicians, performers, and writers, Julieth Lozano Rolong, star of Welsh National Opera’s forthcoming production of Ainadamar tells us about her experiences of growing up in Colombia and her belief that art can awaken our souls.
Where are you from and how does it influence your work?
I am from Colombia! My work is 100% influenced by my heritage. The open-hearted nature of our culture, the colours, landscapes, people, it is all inspiration for my art…it is from where I draw my creativity and imagination for the roles I inhabit.
Where are you while you answer these questions, and what can you see when you look up from the page/screen?
I am on a train on my way to Cardiff!! We start rehearsals for Ainadamar today and arrived yesterday from Colombia to London. Today is a beautiful day and the journey is filled with greenery.
What motivates you to create?
I feel that people need to be reminded of our humanity and art does that. The world has become numbed and I believe that art can awaken our souls. This is why I create.
What are you currently working on?
Ainadamar is my next opera, but at the same time I am preparing some concert work for the next few months. I try to concentrate in the piece I am doing at the moment but sometimes we have to do lots of learning work at the same time.
When do you work?
Every week my schedule changes so I try to keep flexible and not put a lot of pressure on a routine. I try to have at least 1 or 2 hours per day for my personal practice.
How important is collaboration to you?
Extremely!!! We need other points of view, other lights and sparks. I feel like together we can be much stronger and combine our backgrounds/motivations/experience to create something much bigger.
Who has had the biggest impact on your work?
My family. They keep inspiring me and they also keep me grounded. It is a reminder that the sky is the limit and that all the effort is worth it.
How would you describe your oeuvre?
My art is a reflection of my soul. I can’t truly describe it beyond that…. I share what I truly am and I try to dive deeply into my strongest most honest and sometimes scary feelings. I am not scared to share my vulnerability through my voice.
What was the first book you remember reading?
A children’s book about lice! But in the book the little animal had a name and a whole story. I remember feeling like the was a whole universe I couldn’t understand and wishing I could speak to lice. A bit odd, I suppose!
What was the last book you read?
Explaining Humans by Dr. Camilla Pang. A truly wonderful book about society seen through her eyes.
Is there a painting/sculpture you struggle to turn away from?
So many! Lately, I was mesmerised once more by Botero’s paintings.
Who is the musical artist you know you can always return to?
A few… Toto la Momposina is one I know I can always listen to. But honestly my playlists go from Puccini, Verdi, to Beyonce, Shakira, etc.
During the working process of your last work, in those quiet moments, who was closest to your thoughts?
This might sound repetitive but it truly is my family. My dear grandma that is not anymore with us, my beautiful loving mother, my dad…my sister… They are constantly on my mind.
Do you believe in the power of art to change society?
Absolutely. Art reaches in to our soul in a way that I believe can unite, transform and spread love/empathy. I wouldn’t do this otherwise.
Which artist working in your area, alive and working today, do you most admire and why?
I recently worked with Ausrine Stundyte and she was an absolute inspiration on vocal quality and integral performance. I am a passionate of connecting the voice and the spirit and she was that and more!
What is your relationship with social media?
I try to use it to share my art and also my point of view of the business/career as well as a point of contact for people that are far away that might be interested in what I do. It can be a very damaging world and I feel like I have a responsibility to keep an open door to help other artists and students…at least I wish I had that help when I first started studying.
What has been/is your greatest challenge as an artist?
Being far from my family and friends. It is easy to feel lonely in this business and sometimes that can affect your art.
Do you have any words of advice for your younger self?
Yes. To believe more on yourself. The answers were always inside you and sometimes I didn’t trust it. Discipline will pay back so do not give up!
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more singing! I am also passionate in developing a practice in which I can help others to unlock their potential too. So I hope that can grow next to my performing career.
Ainadamar Osvaldo Golijov plays at venues across the UK from Saturday 9th September until Wednesday 22nd November 2023. Further information and tickets are available via the Welsh National Opera website.