The model approaches the fulfillment of her childhood dream of becoming an opera singer in a unique way. | Face to face

Born in Poland, Monika Spruch started out in local beauty pageants, and in 1999 she won the Polish Model of the Year competition. This sent her to runways in Warsaw, Berlin and London. Spruch received the Mademoiselle Mannequin Elite Club Award twice before moving to Los Angeles.

“I felt that I had achieved a lot in Poland and I was ready for the next step,” she says.

While in LA, she was involved in acting. Between 2003 and 2005, she played the role of a permanent member of the science department crew for the last three seasons Star Trek: Enterpriseand worked as one of the stand-ins for Jolene Blalock.

Spruch moved to Carmel in 2015 and began working at a local spa. She describes Monterey County as “such a beautiful and peaceful area.” Thanks to her work in the beauty industry, she found time to fulfill another childhood dream. She started taking singing lessons and was soon good enough to participate in competitions. Spruch has honed her voice at workshops including Angels Vocal Art at CSU Los Angeles, Manhattan Opera Studio in New York, and Bel Canto in Tuscany.

In 2019, she launched Catwalk Opera, in collaboration with the local company eLab Communications, run by her fiance Will Elkadi. The project combines Spruch’s runway skills and her singing talent in one unique show. So far, Spruch has been featured at local events, such as the 2019 Big Sur Fashion Show and composer Mark Governor’s Dusk Show, also in 2019, as well as several shows in Italy. “There aren’t too many models who are trained sopranos,” she says.

Weeks: Which dream came first, modeling or singing?

Spruch: Modeling was the first. I started with beauty pageants, and then I got hired by a big jeans company. My pictures were in shops all over Poland and that’s how my modeling adventure began. But I always wanted to sing. I remember the crystal mirror in my house and my grandmother’s wardrobe. As a five-year-old I wore her clothes, her fox fur and her pearls. I guess I always wanted to be an opera diva, because I used to sing to the mirror as a child.

When did singing take over?

After I moved to Los Angeles. I started with pop and American classics like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. My father was a big fan of American culture. At first I wasn’t sure if opera was a possibility for me. I found great teachers and started practicing. Then I started going to vocal competitions, with good success. It turned out that it was possible for me to do this. I continued with vocal competitions of opera singers. I worked with Roger Malouf, assistant conductor at the Met [Metropolitan Opera], maestro Giovanni Reggioli and Beatrice Benzi, an associate pianist at Milan’s prestigious Scala. It’s only been a few years since I started, but it just keeps getting better and better.

Tell us how Catwalk Opera was born.

It was a joint idea. In 2019, I participated in the local Twilight show and I shared my idea with Mark Governor, who is a film music composer, for example for The Hobbit. He thought it was really good. I basically combine my experience as a fashion model and opera skills. Catwalk Opera is basically a fashion show, but then, all of a sudden, I start singing. I am open to cooperation with all designers, and the show can serve as the opening or closing of many events.

What repertoire do you sing?

I adapt to every event. One of the popular choices is the diva’s song from the 1997 film The fifth elementwhich is real Il Dolce Suono by composer Eric Serra. It is very popular among fashion designers. I have several versions of “Ave Maria” that I sang at the opening of the Big Sur Fashion Show. I work with a pianist or a DJ. I sing in seven different languages. Sometimes I mix modern music with a touch of opera.

How do you like it in Carmel?

It’s different from LA. Since there are less people, I can really concentrate on my craft. Community involvement is important to me. I respect local businesses and always think about how I can give back to this community. My fiancé runs WhatsUpMonterey and SeeCarmel, which are local guides, and we’re thinking about starting a fashion show. We have big plans for this community.

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