Lilly Jørstad — the mezzo-soprano who was strangely considered ‘unsuitable' to continue her studies at the La Scala Academy — has gone on to demonstrate what a bizarre decision that was. She has been called by the La Scala opera house several times to sing the lead role in their production of Cenerentola for children, Rosina (after her success a year ago at La Scala) at the Bergen International Festival and Nordnorsk Opera, next month she will sing Siébel in Faust at Opernhaus Zürich, and she will debut as Meg Page in David McVicar's new production of Falstaff at Wiener Staatsoper under the baton of Zubin Mehta in December.
Now the country of her ancestors, and where she has lived for most of her life, has awarded her an important grant to support her early years.
The Arctic Talent 2016 scholarship amounts to Norwegian krones, or €43,000 ($48,000).
It was a total surprise when I heard about the scholarship. It was absolutely amazing and I had to fight back the tears. In a way, I feel as though I'm a little closer to Norwegian citizenship.
As her name suggests, the Jørstads were from Norway, and her family returned to Norway from Russia when Lilly was a child. However, she has been unsuccessful in applying for citizenship.
For me, this means more than other awards, because I have received this attention as a Norwegian person.
I have no funding from the state, only Innovation Norway, because I'm not a Norwegian citizen – yet I represent Norway around the world.
The grant has been awarded by the Varangerfestivalen which opens today. Director Robert Lundgren said,
Eni Norway has financed the grant.
Lilly Jørstad adds,
It is incredibly difficult to get further without support. This money is like a breath of fresh air.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.