Marta Swiderska Mezzo-soprano, Poland «I had my first singing lesson at the age of 23, right after finishing my master studies in engineering.» What inspired you to become a singer? It is quite a long story. I played the violin from the age of 9, but after finishing primary and secondary music school I quit music all together and started studying engineering. After I completed my Master, I realized I was missing something in my life and it was music. It was way too late to pursue a career playing the violin, and the only possibility was opera singing. I hadn't been singing at all before that, but I thought I would give it a try. I found a private singing teacher and after a year I was a student at the Music Academy in Katowice. It was a coincidence, but I fell in love with singing and I am very happy that I did. What’s your dream role and why? Dalila from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saens. "Mon coeur" was one of the very first arias I learned and it touched my heart instantly. Dalila as a person is complex, delicate and cruel at the same time. This music is beautiful and the story is very touching. Ever since I started singing, I have dreamed about performing this role on a stage one day. Who is your favourite singer and why? Dolora Zajick. She has a wonderfully dark, full and big voice, but she does not sing forte all the time. She can sing beautiful melodies with great musicality and in the most dramatic places she shows the full power of her voice. What do you hope to achieve by participating in The Queen Sonja International Music Competition? I’m hoping for a chance to present myself in front of a great jury and a big audience. Meeting new people and performing in front of them can create new opportunities in the future. Tell us something surprising or unexpected about yourself! I have a PhD in Material Science (engineering) with a specialisation in ceramic materials. I had my first singing lesson at the age of 23, right after finishing my master studies in engineering. After one year of preparation I enrolled at the Music Academy and during the next 5 years I studied singing and PhD engineering studies simultaneously. Is there anything else you would like to tell us, which might be interesting to the public? I am really looking forward to singing for the public and I really hope that I will be able to share my emotion with them during my performance.