“Do I miss my family? Yes. You miss everything. You miss birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and Christmas. All those occasions. You’re not there. That is really hard.”
Country of Origin:
Canada & Portugal
Country of Residence:
Year of Birth:
Cassandra Lemoine is a sophomore student at the Danish Opera Academy. She is disciplined, focused and talented. Her virtues have brought her far. But ambitions have consequences. 7,000 kilometers separates her from her family in Edmonton, Canada. “Do I miss my family? Yes. You miss everything. You miss birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and Christmas. All those occasions. You’re not there. That is really hard.”
Cassandra feels at home in the long and dark corridors of the Royal Danish Conservatory. She greets her fellow students with friendly warmth and she falls effortlessly into conversation with teachers and staff in the beautiful halls of the old building. "When I'm visiting family in Canada I have started to feel Danish. It has become harder for me to talk to strangers as I usually would have done," Cassandra laughs. Cassandra Lemoine's father is Portuguese, and with a dual citizenship she is entitled to study at any EU university under the same conditions as nationals. She has already finished a master in singing at the Danish Music Conservatory. Now she is a sophomore student at the Danish Opera Academy.
"When you start to crave very strange food you didn't grow up with—that is some kind of assimilation."
No Land Without Stones
"I think it's really important—when you live abroad—that you learn the local language. When you're in a meeting or sitting around the lunch table, that not everyone has to switch language on your behalf. I think the hardest part of living in Denmark—and wanting to stay in Denmark—is that the Danes are really good at English. And so it took a long time for me to get into speaking Danish because everybody wanted to speak English with me. It's been hard to really settle into the Danish culture because everyone sees you as the outsider. And they want to see you as the outsider. It can be difficult when you try to speak the language and it doesn't go fast enough and then you think: 'Ok, I'll say it in English instead'. It might have gone faster if English wasn't my first language. But at the same time, I feel really privileged that I can communicate in my first language. So I always have the option to switch from Danish to English."
Cassandra enjoys living in Denmark and it is clear that she will rather not say anything negative about the country she plans to stay in after finished studies: "One thing I really love about living in Copenhagen is getting out the door and up on a bike. They are not used to that in Canada. The cities are spread out and they wouldn't imagine commuting by bike. I love that daily difference. I love it."
Where is the rye bread?
"When I was home last summer I made Danish sild (sweet marinated heering, red.) for my family. When you start to crave very strange food you didn't grow up with—that is some kind of assimilation." Cassandra has been in Denmark for five years, and is planning on staying in the country after finished studies. "I still have a year and a half left of my studies. And already I'm looking for apartments to make my stay more permanent. I think that the concept of home can be a lot of different things. Home also changes. It depends on who I'm with, and where I am. Sometimes when I'm here I think of home as Canada. And sometimes I've been in Canada and I think 'Copenhagen, that's my home!' I have spent five years of my adult life in Copenhagen so it is my home. Home is also about getting up everyday, to come to my job or my studies or a project that I'm working on. That sense of purpose, and that sense of a job and a work I want to be engaged in gives me a sense of belonging and tells me that this is where I'm supposed to be. That can really give a sense of home. This is the direction you should take. This is the path you should take."
"My father's family immigrated from Portugal to Canada in the early 70's. What's wonderful about Canada is that it is really a country that celebrates its cultural diversity. I remember growing up everyone identified with so many cultures. On their mother's side, on their father's side, their great great grandfather side and so on. It was always a part of the conversation where people came from. Whether they were born in Canada or born somewhere else. They were really free to talk about their heritage. Whereas here in Denmark it's really Scandinavian. Everyone I encounter in my daily life is Scandinavian. I live with a Swede, half my class is Norwegian. It's different." ¶
What is Cassandra singing in the portrait film?
Reinhard Keiser (1674 – 1739) was a popular German opera composer based in Hamburg. He wrote over a hundred operas. The Passion Jesus Christus ist um unsrer Missetat willen verwundet originated in the early 18th century. Johann Sebastian Bach produced three performance versions of the Passion. It was performed in at least three cities in the first half of the 18th century: in Hamburg in 1707 and 1711, in Weimar around 1712, and in Leipzig in 1726 and around 1747.
The Royal Opera Academy
The Danish Royal Theatre and The Royal Danish Academy of Music collaborate through The Opera Academy on the educational training in opera. A two-year Master’s degree in opera is being offered as well as a two-year soloist class in opera on the highest level. The Opera Academy is situated at The Opera House on Dokøen, and classes take place at both The Opera House and at The Royal Danish Academy of Music.
Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók Bluebeard's Castle is a one-act opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. The libretto was written by Béla Balázs, a poet and friend of the composer, and is written in Hungarian, based on the French literary tale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault. The opera lasts only a little over an hour and there are only two singing characters onstage: Bluebeard (Kékszakállú), and his new wife Judith (Judit); the two have just eloped and Judith is coming home to Bluebeard's castle for the first time. Bonus info: In Hungarian the opera's name is A kékszakállú herceg vára