Audience at the opera often overlook the countless rehearsals and arduous trainings a singer has to go through in order to deliver a pitch perfect performance day after day. The exacting demands of opera singing is well known and frequently ‘superficialized’ on films. In this issue, Ms. Fujiko Hirai has kindly agreed to a short interview about her life as a Soprano. On stage Fujiko executes her performance in a high level of vocal control and with a natural flair in dramatic acting, but off stage she is soft spoken and down-to-earth . Her almost shy and short replies to my questions made me realize how wonderful it would be if we could all let our (only pitch perfect) singing do the talking. When did you realize that opera singing is the profession for you? Since young I was very fascinated with stage costumes and I have a strong interest in performing arts. Pursuing opera singing seemed to me a very natural process. Who inspired you? Who led you through the door of this magical world of opera singing? Maria Callas. For me, she is my God. It is a tough profession. The quality of your performance is not solely dependent on the technical training of your vocals...there’s emotions and sentiments. How do you manage physically and emotionally? Yes it is indeed a demanding profession. Each opera singer has his or her approach in keeping themselves physically and emotionally fit in order to deliver a good performance. As for mine, it is a secret. Which is your favourite opera? It has to be Puccini’s Tosca. For some unknown reasons, this opera makes me tremble with emotions. What is the key to delivering a good performance? To deliver a good performance, first you need to be confident of yourself. And your advice to aspiring professional opera singers? Never stop training and studying the fine art of opera singing. Graduated from the Musashino University of Music in Tokyo, Ms. Fujiko Hirai continued her study of lyrical singing at the Opera Studio of the . In 1994 she was selected to sing in the final concert at the Vittorio Veneto open theatre as well as in a season of Rigoletto at the Ljubliana opera theatre in Slovenia. Ms. Hirai resides both in Florence and in Rome to further improve the art of lyrical singing under the tutorage of masters such as Tadahiko Hirano, Hiroaki Kanno, Paride Venturi, Pieralba Sorog, Steven Roach, and Antinori Nazzarena. Ms. Hirai made her debut performance at the Melbourne City Opera Australia in 2002 and in a theatre in Rome in 2007 singing Tosca. Stage performance aside, she also appeared in some singing scenes of various TV dramas and musicals in Japan. In 2001 she performed at the Royal Festival Hall in London for “Nôshi wo Koete” (Beyond the Brain Death), produced by the Tokyo Chamber Opera Theatre as part of the event “Japan in UK”. In the same year she was appointed as “Furusato Taishi”, hometown cultural ambassador, where she organizes lyrical singing courses for citizens in her native town Sabae.