«Our university supports its students in whatever interests or initiatives they have.»
I met Rita during IE’s Week Zero in 2015. Since then, she has excelled in BBA and been highly involved in university life, as founder and president of IE’s Padel and Business Insights Clubs. At the same time, she has somehow managed to lead a double life, training to become a professional soprano. Rita Fernandez Gasalla has already been featured in a TEDx talk and her most recent performance was reported on the front page of the daily newspaper, La Opinión A Coruña.
How did your passion for opera start?
It all started as a hobby. As a child, influenced by my parents’ tastes, I loved music but also loved tennis and chess. I was very competitive and always wanted to take these passions as far as possible. Over time, it became clear to me that music, piano, and opera were my true callings. I had to give up tennis and then chess, even though I was progressing well and classified third and second in Madrid in the last two years I competed.
How have you balanced academic excellence at IE with your musical career?
I try to be organized and consistent, dedicating time to both my academics and music on a day-to-day basis. Regardless of whether I have exams or am on vacation, I try to play the piano for two hours a day and study opera for another two. Unfortunately, opera is not just singing. It also involves studying sheet music and librettos, and thinking analytically. Fortunately, there are some commonalities between opera and business. For example, French, German and English language skills are a must in opera and also very important for a prosperous business career.
I also think that studying at IE has played an important role in my ability to manage both things at the same time. Our university supports its students in whatever interests or initiatives they have. IE has offered me tremendous opportunities in both fields: I was invited to the Milken Institute London Summit last December, recently had an article published on the IE Law School blog, and was invited to do a TEDx talk. Opportunities such as these help us advance our careers and for that I am very thankful to IE.
What are your next steps and performances?
I am very excited about my upcoming debut at Teatro Colón in La Coruña on May 23rd. I will perform in O Paseo das Esfinxes by Luísa Villalta and it will be a very special occasion because this is the first time that the play will be performed on stage.
Then, in August, I´m going to Sciences Po in Paris for my exchange semester, to work on my French.
Do you have time to have fun?
Well, I guess I am happy by default, but balancing my social life with my academic life has been a challenge. Being an opera singer means that you have to give up some fun things that are natural for most students during their first years of university. For instance, going out late; being in crowded, noisy places; and drinking alcohol are off-limits for me.
What advice would you give future IE students wishing to pursue their dreams?
I believe that we have to give ourselves the opportunity to believe in ourselves. Then, we have to work hard to make it happen, committing and knowing that it will mean sacrifice but also special moments of joy. Finally, it is important to know that you are not alone: when you believe in yourself, others will, too.