“At the beginning of the track, you shouldn’t be afraid, you have to act,” says opera singer Zhang Yu Carolyn
SZTE Alma Mater Magazine
She was born in China, Xian and she graduated in singing and then came to Szeged to study music here. Her voice conquered the whole European continent. She speaks fluent Hungarian, but that is not the only reason why she is regarded as the ambassador of Hungarian Folk Music in China. Currently she is a lecturer at the SZTE Bartók Béla Faculty of Arts.
Who is she? She is Zhang Yu Carolyn, who is the only active Chinese coloratura soprano in Hungary.
Author: KÓSA BOGLÁRKA
– After graduating from China, why did you want to continue your studies, why did you choose Hungary and the University of Szeged?
– Before I came here, I did not know much about Hungary, but my uncle lived in Szeged. He said that there is a very good university and a very good music education there, and if I want to study, then it is definitely worth applying for the University of Szeged. So I tried. Fortunately, I succeeded, though I did not even think at that time that I would continue my career here in Hungary.
– Did you stay in Szeged after completing your master’s degree program at SZTE?
– No. At first I moved to Budapest and then abroad, because I had performances and concerts in China and other countries. Then I came back to Hungary and officially from September 2018 I teach at University of Szeged, Faculty of Music, and from August 2019, I teach at the SZTE Béla Bartók Faculty of Art.
– Didn’t you find it difficult to come to study music in a country which is thousands of kilometers away from China?
– Yes, very much! When I came here, I couldn’t speak a word in Hungarian, I was communicating with everyone in English. At first it was difficult, but I thought if I want to be here in this country, I should learn the language because if I know the language then I can understand the local culture, people’s thinking style. Besides, Hungary is very strong in the music culture and I really wanted to understand the essence of the pieces I was playing. That’s why I started to learn Hungarian.
– What is it like to be a student in Szeged?
– it is definitely a very good experience. My luck was that when I got here, my classmates and teachers helped me a lot, both in my studies and in my daily life. I got a lot of support from them and it was a beautiful time of my life. I still remember that very well. Especially now that I am teaching here in the faculty, a lot of memories are evoked.
– What made the biggest difference between China and Hungary in everyday life? Which oddities were difficult to get used to?
– Actually, I’m the type of person that I can get used to new conditions quickly. The communication was difficult because I tried to make friends, and it was very problematic without knowing Hungarian language. I like hanging out with friends, doing things together, but due to language difficulties there was a time when I felt very lonely. I couldn’t get used to the life without a regular communication with people. But after learning the language, everything changed and since then I had a good time.
– With such a career behind you, what do you say to those who are just starting their careers and are thinking about studying abroad but are afraid and uncertain whether they will start?
“I think every person has dreams, everyone wants to make their dreams come true, and no matter how difficult they are. We have to decide what we really want.” If you want to get somewhere, you have to start; you have to try, without suppressing your thoughts. Certainly, once we set off, we should not give up, because if you give up, then for sure, a day comes which you blame yourself and regretting about the things that you could do but you didn’t. So, this is what I recommend for those who are just starting their careers: don’t be afraid.
From Magic Flute to Gypsy Love
Zhang Yu Carolyn, a Chinese coloratura soprano singer, has won awards several times at various international singing competitions and has repeatedly “judged” as a member of a jury in competitions and festivals. Several famous operas – such as Magic Flute, La Traviata and Turandot – and operettas – such as Pacsirta, Bat, and Gypsy Love – have been featured and heard in the headlines and audiences of Hungarian theaters, cultural centers and events. She has appeared on television several times, including the Ridikül and Fábry shows featuring the talented artist.
Carolyn on the Dome Square stage
Clicking on Zhang Yu Carolyn’s website, www.zhangyucarolyn.com, you can read more about the life of opera singer, musician and teacher. We found out in an article from the Chinese Center for Culture and Art that she brought the name “Carolyn” from China to her foresight parents to make it easier in a foreign language. It is an unforgettable experience when she appeared on stage as a substitute for Andrea Rost, an opera singer, on the Dome Square as a beginner singer in the Szeged open-air festival. Zhang Yu Carolyn’s first CD is entitled “Eastern Lark above the Danube”.