In Life & Style Magazine, March 2007 issue
Joseph A Cachia talks to Ruth Sammut Casingena about her love for all that makes art
Is she a pianist? Is she a singer? Is she an actress? Ruth Sammut Casingena is all three, moulded together to form the complete artist. In ‘Cin Ci Là’ at the Manoel Theatre last month she proved her worth in singing and acting, and nobody would have been surprised had she played the piano if there was one on the stage.
Turning on the tv set on a Tuesday one is also bound to see her regularly on two of Net TVs drama series. She is playing Madalena in ‘Pupi’ and Julia in ‘The Inheritance’, two totally different characters which shows her versatility as an actress.
But how does she cope with all these artistic traits? With her typical smile Ruth explains that she is an an extension of her piano.
“My artistic life started off with me as a pianist for a good number of years,” she says emotionally. “The piano is my soul. It taught me discipline, understanding of life, spiritual knowledge! I can never separate myself from it in any way. So I’ll always see myself as a pianist. When I play the piano, the keys, its timbre, the touch, its music, this takes me to an ethereal plane, another world from which it is always difficult to come back to this one!”
But back to earth Ruth passed through a heart-breaking experience in her love for the piano. Repetitive strain injury back forced her to dedicate more time to her voice, which in turn continued to consolidate her singing career which had already taken off two years before.
When talking about singling Ruth cannot be but emotional. “Singing touches my heart immensely, ” she says. “Here I am the musician as well as the actress. Through singing I study the music, I go through the score in detail, I play the piano to study. To interpret my music I am directly in touch with music, and I’m making music all the time. So that aspect of myself as a pianist has never stopped being in the forefront which actually has refined my singing and artistic skills.”
As happened also in ‘Cin Ci Là’, Ruth through singing interpreted characters and emotions all the time. Ruth just loves acting. It’s something which has always been inside her since childhood. Both during theatrical work and filming she really enjoys herself exploring and being those characters and delving right into the heart of them!
“Really, it’s a thrill interpreting characters. Yet I cannot do this alone without having my music. I guess singing incorporates the three together and makes me feel whole,” says the complete artist.
Ruth started her musical journey in piano when she was nine and her vocal training when she was 20 with Antoinette Miggiani after having been a chorus girl, throughout her late teens, in various operas staged in Maltese theatres. Between 1990 to 1993 Ruth furthered her studies in piano and general musicianship with Mro. Pawlu Grech, meanwhile achieving the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music Diplomas in piano and voice, namely Fellowship Diploma of the Trinity College of Music in voice as well as the Licentiate Diplomas of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music in voice and piano. In 1996, she graduated in musicology at the University of Malta. From 1997 till 1998 she furthered her music studies at the De Singel Music Conservatory in Antwerp, Belgium where she successfully completed the first of three years Master Degree in voice.
A lead role as Milly in ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ in 1999 at the Manoel Theatre, which she says is her favourite acting role, triggered off her love for musical theatre. Critic Dr Paul Xuereb was full of praise for her performance. Writing in ‘The Sunday Times’ he said that he shall always remember the production for Ruth’s impressive performance whom he already knew as a well-trained and accomplished singer but who turned out to be an excellent all-round performer.
Ruth then started teaching voice at Stagecoach which led her to the magical world of musical theatre. Two years after joining Stagecoach as a voice tutor she created the idea of joining all the Stagecoach schools into one huge vocal show, becoming Vocal Aid (previously Mega Concert) for which she was music director for three consecutive years at the Mediterranean Conference Centre.
Apart from enjoying main parts in musicals and being voice coach and one of the mains in ‘Slice for Saturday Night’, at St. James’ Cavalier, she landed a couple of acting roles, as Sharon in ‘Play It Again Sam’ and took the lead role in Goldoni’s ‘La Vedova Scaltra’ at the Manoel Theatre.
Playing Bridget in ‘Slice for Saturday Night’ was her least favourite role as an actress. Bridget was a snobbish character who thought she was god’s gift to men and to the rest of the world. That’s totally the opposite of Ruth. It was a great challenge for her and it took a while before she could accept the character and interpret it. “To add insult to injury that was one of the worst periods of my life, when my dad was dying,” she confides. In fact her father passed away a week and a half before the show started.
Ruth stepped in television when she was a resident singer on Saga in 2003 and a vocal coach and judge of Bravi. Ever since she has been invited to sing in various local shows. Her TV filming experience now includes ‘Il-Pesta’, ‘Ghada Jisbah Ukoll’ and ‘QalbinNies’. ‘Pupi’ and ‘The Inheritance’ rounds up her acting repertoire.
Last December Ruth was guest soprano at Palais Pallavicini in Vienna at a Charity Banquet organized by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
But how does she manage to be a mother and a career woman?
“‘Manage’, you can say that again,” she smiles. “I think I just manage because it’s very difficult. Loads of daily sacrifices and a very hard life. It’s very rewarding though, because I can say that I have the best of both worlds – having a child, my dear four-year old Jake — is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Having a career is also very rewarding. But of course, bringing up a child entails great responsibilities and it is no joke: you literally have the life and well- being of another human being in your hands! Keeping a career going is pretty tough too especially in today’s competitive world! And having both! Actually being successful in both at the same time is the ultimate challenge!”
The artist is blessed with all the qualities that make her who she is. These include hardheadedness, stamina, being a free spirit, totally independent, courageous, persevering and believing blindly in herself and her talents. Being positive and having a great sense of humour have also been a great help!
Ruth’s has always dreamed of going to America and to own a sportscar. With all her qualities there is no doubt that she will make all her dreams come true. Her future beckons!