Knowing Me, Knowing You — Dr Conroy Cupido
Date of appointment:
1 January 2011
Vocal lessons, Singing Methodology, Repertoire Studies, Italian and French diction, Opera and Choral projects
Mozart opera; German, French, Italian and English art songs
Diction for singers, opera and art song performance practice, Classical singers’ well-being, singing pedagogy and methodology.
Who are/were your professional mentors/inspiration?
Mentors: Peet van Heerden and Nina Schumann (Stellenbosch); Vetta Wise; Prof Barbara Hill Moore and Martha Gehart (Dallas, USA); Prof David Sundquist and Prof Jeff Snider (Denton, USA).
Inspiration: Joan Sutherland, Renee Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Bryn Terfel, Luciano Pavarotti, John Elliot Gardiner, James Levine.
Top 5 must-hear music:
Five is way too limiting!!!
1. Vier Letze Lieder (Richard Strauss) sung by Jessye Norman, select songs by Strauss, Schumann, Brahms and Berlioz, and select piano sonatas by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart.
2. Act three of both La Bohéme and Tosca (Puccini); Ch’il bel sogno from La Rondine sung by Renee Fleming, and Aida Act 2 and 4 (Verdi).
3. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat major D899 No.3, and Mozart’s Divertimenti for Strings.
4. Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) and most Mozart and Verdi operas.
5. My bubble-bath iPod playlist including: I can’t fight this feeling anymore (REO Speedwagon), You’re the Inspiration (Chicago), Alone (Heart), Whitney Houston’s Top hits, Death Cab for Cutie, Landon Pigg, the Carpenters, and many more!!
Which personal music experiences are most memorable to you?
1. Watching many of my icons perform at the Met, Covent Garden, Chicago Lyric Opera, Dallas Opera and other opera houses and various recitals: Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson.
2. Performing opera with a great cast and orchestra, especially Mozart and Donizetti. I would love to perform Verdi, but would probably have to wait till I’m 60!
3. Being a part of the world première of Moby Dick by Jake Heggie at the Dallas Opera while singing next to Ben Heppner on stage with me, and performing Italian opera in Italy at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival.
4. Performing art song recitals on the rare occasions when I’m unhindered by concerns of my voice, technique or what other people think. Getting lost in the poetry and music and collaborating with an incredible pianist.
5. My very first experiences on the stage will always be special, like performing in the Cape Youth Music Festival with the CPO, also with Mimi Coertse in “Debuut met Mimi” at the State Theatre in Pretoria, and my first Mozart Requiem with the CPO and Cape Philharmonic Choir. Also my first international opera productions in the USA.
6. Seeing my students perform and excel.
Top 5 must-read books:
1. Clash of the Titans
2. Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave
3. Shakespeare plays and sonnets
4. I mostly read non-fiction, like biographies of famous singers and about English monarchies like the Tudors, House of Windsor and House of Hanover.
5. Books on aromatherapy, dogs, herbology and botany, gardening, alternative healing and spirituality, satire and humour.
• “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt
• “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Meade
• “Love is the pure energy of God; pray for it ardently. Be grateful when it comes into your life: give of it generously. Lavish it on others: even the undeserving ones. Cultivate friendship with care: it is the best love of all.” — Sister Helen Prejean
• ANYTHING Maggie Smith says on Downton Abbey as the Dowager Countess, or in her numerous other roles.
• From The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
Carol: You haven’t met anyone?
Madge Hardcastle: Single by choice. Just not my choice.
Sonny: Everything will be all right in the end … if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.
Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
Muriel: Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
• From Priscilla, Queen of the Desert:
“Oh Felicia, where the f@#* are we?”
• “Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.” — Oscar Wilde
• “The difference between listening to bad recorder music and panpipes is that recorders make you want to kill other people while panpipes make you want to kill yourself.” — Conroy Cupido
Top 5 must-see movies:
Anyone who knows me, knows that this question and the next one will be THE hardest to limit myself, but I’ll try:
1. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
2. The Harry Potter series
3. X-Men, Transformers, Avengers, Stargate and Star Trek franchises, The Fifth Element, Armageddon
4. Hocus Pocus, Stardust, Brokeback Mountain, Elizabeth
5. Maurice, Sense and Sensibility, A Room with a View, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Shelter
Which television shows can you watch over and over again?
Charmed, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, The Golden Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, Ab Fab, many shows on the Home channel and my vast collection of 80’ cartoons: Thundercats, He-man and She-ra, Bionic Six, etc.
Steak, Lamb Curry, Lamb Chops, Lamb Roast, Shrimp, Pickled Fish, Biltong, Slap chips, Sushi, Gnocchi, Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Meringue
Mojito, River Café’s Double Vodka Martini, a good Merlot, Port, Whiskey, Bourbon, Guinness on tap, Boddington’s Pub Ale, Erdinger Kristall, Tea from Teavana in the USA. And I cannot start my day without a cup of black strong coffee.
How do you relax?
Working out at the gym, a day at the spa, traveling to a new destination when I can afford to do so, watching series or movies from my couch, hanging out with friends and the list of drinks mentioned above, a long bubble bath with my iPod playlist, taking walks in Kirstenbosch gardens and lying on the beach in Cape Town when I am home; going to an art gallery, the opera, theatre or the symphony or reading the latest edition of Homeowner or Garden and Home magazine.
Which places would you still like to visit?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, my dad in Switzerland, Amsterdam, Germany, Barcelona, Madrid, Majorca, Thailand, Seoul (Korea), Tokyo, the Napa Valley in California, and San Francisco.
What is the ringtone on your cell phone?
The second Queen of the Night aria (Mozart) sung by Edita Gruberova. Although, I have various other ringtones for specific friends such as the Looney Tunes Theme Song (I won’t mention their names).
What is your favourite moment of the day/week/year at the Conservatory?
• When classes are over and recess begins
• When my students practice and they have a breakthrough in their technique or interpretive abilities and seeing young singers develop into artists.
• When I get a chance to practice and have my own breakthroughs in my own singing.
• Hearing some of the witty, cynical, hysterical comments in our staff meetings.
• When it is summer and the athletes are practicing outside.
• Seeing my students and choir perform with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra during Aardklop. It was a truly marvellous event.
• Also seeing my students experience what it is like to sing in an international context in the USA and in Germany out of the Potchefstroom bubble. Seeing the realisation on their faces when they realise that their dreams and goals are within reach.
• I love my job, have fantastic colleagues and I wish that everyone could find their passion and make a career out of it.