As a child I developed an early interest in music and my history with music began. At this stage I never thought of singing. Playing cello at first, I joined piano classes. It is the moment when everyone was convinced, Joanna was going to be a virtuoso. Decision to take vocal classes was unexpected and shaped my entire life.
Looking back in time, I believe that was the right choice. Through singing I can express myself and fulfill entirely as an artist.
It is difficult to say, though, what my life would be like if I had become a pianist...
To me, there are two kinds of singers; those who rise through ranks of success by hard work, strenuous practicing and great determination, second group comprises of the 'lucky ones' - gifted so much, that even knowledge of scores is not required...
I fall into first category. Years of studying, hours of arduous exercises every day, listening to records of renowned artists, discovering the details of their craftsmanship - that was my day-to-day routine. Finishing my studies I knew my strengths as well as weaknesses. By that time I had been awarded first prize in the International Vocal Competition in London and second prize in Rio de Janeiro. My international career developed rapidly and led me to contract with Covent Garden in Liu' and long-term contract with The Grand Theatre (Teatr Wielki) in Poznan. I knew, however, I mustn't stop learning.
Still today, I cherish the knowledge of my tutors, and in spare moments I visit professor Irena Galuszko from Wroclaw, Poland. Together, we prepare for new performances and her constructive criticism is extremely precious to me.
Every opera singer should shape their career carefully. The art of theatre must be learnt; tricks of the trade must be discovered. One cannot underestimate the importance of minor parts, as they encompass vital elements of professional experience. I am convinced that many people in Poznan still recall my performance of Annina in La Traviata or Mi in "The Land of Smiles"...
Singing is vital. You sing to and for your audience wherever you perform. Power of will and respect for the audience - every audience, is indispensable. And remuneration is not of great magnitude for an artist with vocation for singing - passion and determination is.
Performing in renowned opera houses, however prestigious, is not always more rewarding than being part of less famous theatres, which are unfairly considered to be small-town, provincial establishments. The major hindrance in getting small theatres into big world of opera is money. Being a luxurious art in lavish surroundings, making performances inevitably requires vast amount of funds.
Nevertheless, financial situation is not the only factor that determines success of world-famous opera houses - it is their established ethos of how production takes place and the way rehearsals are organized and carried out. Prominent theatres allow as much as one month for rehearsals - time that is spent to the second for preparation to make this one, special piece of art.
Only some make it to the top...no one can answer the question how...
At the beginning of your career vocal competitions play an important role. Winning prizes facilitates future success - finals always attract directors of theatres, agents and others that can 'spot' you. However, this is just a start - it is vital not to let emotions take over. Most importantly one should never take appraisals for granted. We all are well aware of one-night stars in a limelight, phenomena on opera scene that appear as quickly as they vanish.
It is essential to choose repertoire wisely. Interests of singers, directors and audiences are rarely in agreement. Can a middle-age lady be a convincing 15-year-old Butterfly? I guess it depends on the point of view. The ideal would be a young soprano capable of performing that part. That is nonetheless idealism. The reality is that this particular part is not only extremely demanding, but can also be disastrous for young voice.
I had to learn to say 'no'. Great majority of divas including my favorites, Mirella Freni and Leontyna Price always stressed the importance of it.
Relationship with your agent is of paramount importance. The ultimate cooperation is when your agent is prepared to 'invest' in their artist, understands them and protects from inappropriate parts, not insisting on taking on all offers.
It is great art to take criticism, but even greater to be able to learn from it.
Never loose heart, we are only human beings that are vulnerable to mistakes.
We are captains of our own ships - we must know where we are heading for and how we are getting there.
Translation Pawel Janicki
“... not less praise but, on the contrary, more – should go to the delightful Tatiana by Joanna Kozlowska /.../ Her voice – broad, bright and uniform in every register, her excellent concentration on emission, her ability to shape the tone as needed, her fervent passion – all this makes her unbelievably convincing, both in her girlish joy at the beginning of the opera, in the 'slalom' of emotion during the letter writing scene and in the great final scene.“
"The gallery of female characters has its climax in the figure of Joanna Kozlowska, the Polish soprano who creates Dona Elvira with a magnificent voice capable of expressing all the wealth of this dramatically complex character..."