Mere Oliveira: Award-winning mezzo-soprano, wows international audiences with her vocal prowess

Mere Oliveira: "Singing to alleviate the hardships of life has always been my motto"
Mere Oliveira: “Singing to alleviate the hardships of life has always been my motto”

When she was only two years old, Mere loved singing regional songs with her mother that she heard in Taubaté, São Paulo, and the neighboring region. Another style she sang were the gospel songs that were heard in the evangelical church with her father, a pastor. “I never had any prejudice with any style of music, I liked to sing, whatever it was. I learned early on that music frees us, puts us in other sensory stages. Singing to alleviate the hardships of life has always been my motto,” says Mere Oliveira, laughing. A serious teenager serious and very dedicated to the church, Glacimere would one day assume the stage name of Mere and found in song the best way to express her personality.


And the hardships she faced after he decided to pursue a career as a classical singer were many, to the point of her sometimes thinking about quitting. And there was good reason, because the uncertainties and mishaps were huge. Raised in Taubaté, São Paulo, in a black family without much instruction and poor, her horizons were restricted further by having established a career as a civil servant and with an education in teaching and social communication. The simple fact of liking and having a voice suitable for classical music were not enough to try that route. “I remember the people who worked with me in city hall always supporting me and even more so when I won a contest of interpretation in 2001 in Argentina. But to have a chance in this difficult and highly contested career I had to dedicate myself. I knew my limitations in both techniques as well as what I would have to learn. To become an interpreter of classical music I would have to leave my job and take courses to become qualified. And it is not easy to leave a job and a certain salary to try something so distant at that time, which was being an opera singer,” she explains.


Mere remembers that once she came home and said to her father that she sang classical music. He didn’t even know what it was that, didn’t understand and didn’t motivate her to move forward. But following her dream and her intuition, she went after her dream. She left a job as a technical assistant at city hall in Taubaté and began to perfect her craft. She began to take courses such as vocal technique at the Escola Municipal de Música, Artes Plásticas e Cênicas Maestro Fêgo Camargo (Maestro Fêgo Camargo Municipal School of Music, Plastic Art and Performing Arts). Despite receiving encouragement and admiration from her friends, when she left her job at city hall, everyone thought she was crazy. With the little money she put together, Mere actually began to devote herself to a career as an opera singer. She won awards for interpretation in Argentina and Uruguay and began feel secure. But fear still persisted. “I didn’t know any person in Taubaté and nearby towns who made a living as opera performers. It made me fearful to the point of often thinking about quitting.”


The awards were bringing her work and the contests that she would win helped to correct imperfections and technical gaps. In 2008, along with nineteen other students, she won an international course of two years, held in Teatro de Guaíra (Guaíra Theater) in Curitiba (southern state of Paraná) and, among the professors, were two who were paramount in her training, the Chilean professor and mezzo-soprano based in Germany, Graciela Araya, and vocal coach Vitor Philomeno. Then in 2010 came tours of Europe (Hungary, Germany and Croatia) and invitations to interpret Carmen, one of the greatest and best characters in the operatic repertoire. The opera Carmen was composed by French composer Georges Bizet and had great foreign interpreters. “These teachers helped me to have security as an opera singer and fight for this career that is so difficult and uncertain. Interpreting Carmen was a challenge and I think I became specialized in that character.” Mere has played the character five times, twice in 2012. In 2004, while still working at Taubaté city hall, she decided to take a crack at putting on the famous opera. She hired professionals, designed the costumes, reserved the city theater and played nine scenes from the opera Carmen. “Since I was young, I have been an entrepreneur. If there wasn’t an open door, I would open one (laughs). When I decided to do this little spectacular, I did everything, including public relations, taking advantage of my knowledge in media. It was three days of a crowded theater and people loved everything, it was crazy at the time, and with pleasure I would do everything all over again from that learning experience. I think it helped me to respect all the people involved in a grand opera. With this experience, I learned the importance of everybody to make it to happen, so that everything is carried out in a satisfactory manner,” she recalls. For having left her job at City Hall, Mere went after a job in which she could conciliate with her profession of opera singer and found in the Projeto Guri (Guri Project) (developed by the Department of Culture of the State of São Paulo) the perfect job. “It’s a great project for music socialization that the Government of São Paulo has  put on for years statewide. I love teaching because I participate in the realization of the dreams of poor students who see in music a chance to have citizenship. I give classes at Taubaté and Pindamonhangaba, and I am enjoying it a lot because I see the dreams that I sought with classical music projected in those students, mostly from very poor families. I am currently teaching for children of ex-convicts and it’s very nice to see the joy stamped on their little faces and the importance that classical music comes to have in the life of each one,” says Mere.


Future works?

At the moment the singer is discharging her batteries in a well-deserved rest. For the next year, Mere anticipates having some projects for the first half of 2013, but still can’t reveal them so that she doesn’t “put a jinx on it.” About possible characters who she want to play in the operatic repertoire, she claims to have a strong desire to do Amneris, Aída, Giuseppe Verdi, and Delilah, of Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns. “They are great characters for any female opera performer and I am very greedy, but at the same time I am aware of my vocal health. There are wonderful characters that I am not able to interpret, since it would require much of my voice and we have to think about the future not to wear it out because of wrong choices,” explains Mere, whose dream is to sing in the Sala São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra (Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado or OSESP). “For whoever began singing at two years of age with her mother and dared to chase their dreams in a small town in the interior of São Paulo (state), I can already imagine raising my voice in a great opera aria in the Sala São Paulo, and why not, in the great concert halls of the world?”

Source: Raça Brasil

Mere Oliveira mezzo soprano


Mere Oliveira – “Ogni rumor di passi” – Maria Tudor – Carlos Gomes

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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