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Interview on TVR Cultural - part II - 15.10.2009

This is the audio of the second part of the interview on October 15th, broadcasted on TVR Cultural. Thanks to the anonymus who sent it to me. The contribution is highly appreciated. Maybe you have the video too?


Below there's the translation.
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Marius Constantinescu: I’m waiting for something else from this interview. Maybe more pauses, maybe some denials, maybe some rephrased question that could pass the star’s censorship. But it wasn’t like this at all, I have to confess. As spectator, I applaud the charismatic character on stage. As journalist, I have to let Angela Gheorghiu be herself. She proved no restrain in front of a genuine curiosity.
Angela Gheorghiu: Only those who performed with me can understand the strong connection that we have. And you can ask them about this.
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* Fragment from “Carmen” – ROH – Placido Domingo as Don Jose, Angela Gheorghiu as Micaela
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* I’m sure that back than when you started your international career you were appreciating some “gods” of the opera. I was curious if those “gods” remain gods when you performed with them on stage. Always. There are only a few exceptions that I don’t even want to talk about.
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* You, opera singers, are very discreet. When you have bad experiences or less enjoyable ones never say anything. Now that you said that, I’ll tell you something. After 10 years or so I met Montserrat Caballe. I worshiped her and I still do. She knew very well who I was. I was in Vienna and I went to listen to her at Musikverein. At that time I was singing at Staatsoper with Roberto and everybody was talking about us. After the concert I went backstage to congratulate her. And she asked me “You’re a singer too?” “Yes, in my spare time”.
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* Have you actually told her that? Yes. After that she apologized. But that was her first reaction. This was one of the experiences. I have others. One of them connected to a great Romanian soprano who welcomed me with open arms. It was my first appearance at “Do you like opera?” and I performed Addio del passato. One day later I went to see Traviata with Eugenia Moldoveanu. I was very nervous. When she opened the door and saw me and opened her arms towards me. She invited me at her place and she gave me a dress. She treated me exceptionally. After that I met another great person, Virginia Zeani. Now we’re so close that I call her “mama Virginia” and she calls me “my little girl”. I had another great experience with Renata Tebaldi. Before meting her, she had listened to my first recital CD with DECCA. And she sent me a marvelous letter. Imagine how I felt. So, besides that first experience with Montserrat Caballe (who’s famous for her humor so I guess for her it was a joke but I was shocked) I’ve never been disappointed when meeting someone.
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* Do you like comparisons? Yes. Because it proves people can make the difference. We’re talking here about a large family of singers. Those from the past, present and future. From this point of view I was never afraid. When I have a new project, a new role, I never think of somebody else. During a performance I don’t care if the audience is formed of singers. When I have something to do, I do it. I often laugh with the directors that say that I have emotions. Of course I have emotions. At the premiere we go on stage to take the applauses or boos. Some directors don’t even have the courage to come on stage knowing that not everything was fine. Usually when a show starts, the director stays at home. Their work has ended and mine just begins. Some opera singers complain about the directions. I went through all the stages of refuse, rejection. Those who know me say I’m the “black sheep”. But the evolution exists.
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* fragment from Faust – ROH 2004 – Angela Gheorghiu as Marguerite, Roberto Alagna as Faust, Bryn Terfel as Mephistopheles
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* You give the impression of a artist that knows herself very well and knows what’s best for her. I’m curious if during Angela Gheorghiu’s career there were uncertainties or maybe wrong steps. No. I trust my instinct. I had two negative experiences. Once I didn’t agree with Riccardo Muti when he said “I don’t do accompaniment”. But this is what you do. If you don’t do it you might change your job. He also said “I build the character”. “So you don’t need me anymore” I said. There was this conflict from the first meeting.
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*In Ravena? Yes. In that moment I understood we can’t communicate. We rehearsed once, twice, he hasn’t showed up for 3 weeks of direction rehearsals. He came in the last minute. He was raising his hand to the right; we were on the left side. Ok, these things happen, maybe he had something better to do. When I felt there’s something wrong I said “signori, addio, io me ne vado” (gentlemen, good bye, I leave).
The other bad experience was in Madrid. We started the rehearsals for Traviata. The director set the action at the beginning of the Second World War. There was something connected to the SS. I trusted him because we had worked together for another Traviata and it was ok. His new idea disturbed me. I couldn’t find myself in it. I didn’t know how to build the character. I was lost. And I said “I signed a contract for Traviata… you know, Verdi, Dumas…. I can’t find anything from it in here. I’m sorry but I leave”. And I left.
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* Have these happenings cost you anything? No, on the contrary.
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* Reputation, trust, money… The negative ones brought me opera sheets written for me, publicity I didn’t want. But they all hurt me. I suffered for all of them. Because of them people see in me a different person, opposite of what I really am. It doesn’t mean that if you want something you’re a difficult person. These things get mixed up. I learned a lot of what I told you about now. The first lesson I’ve learned is that when I have a new production or a revival I want to know everything before starting. I want to know the direction, to see the costume, to know about everything. If I accept and the first rehearsals start, it’s too late. You can’t simply disappear. The tickets are already sold, people want to see me, they have expectations. It happens to cancel the show due to illness. But when I take part in a production I feel extremely responsible, same as the theatre manager, the director, the conductor. We all want to make a good performance. I don’t remember going to the theatre and saying “today I’ll sing badly”. I don’t get there to get booed. I don’t go there to make fool of something or somebody. Everybody on stage must be looked up because they give everything. The fact that I’m on stage is the result of a continuous study during the lifetime.
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* Fragment from Traviata – La Scala 2007 – Angela Gheorghiu as Violeta, Ramon Vargas as Alfredo
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* Do you consider that you reached that stage in your career when you do the best for you? Yes.
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* There’s no obligation, no restraint. No.
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* You’re privileged. Yes. And I’m not ashamed for this. I think that everybody has this freedom. I tell these things to my colleagues and they say “You can afford doing this”. It’s not exactly like this. Everybody has the right to know what happens to him or her. Nobody forces you to sing a role. I take the liberty to find out why I have to sing in a certain production and not in another one.
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* Pictures from different productions
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* These days your name is first on the cast list, you’re the star, you’re the last one at the curtain call. What would happen when you won’t be in the spotlights anymore? Where do you see yourself in 20, 25 years? I really hope to exist 25 years from now. I love life very much. I was thinking if He says tomorrow “Angela, it’s over”, I’m happy and I thank God for what I had so far. But if He gives me the happiness of life, this would be my first joy, to sing. I love more things in life, such as nature, art. You asked me what I’d like to do. I receive a lot of suggestions: to establish a school, to teach, to direct. I remember now of Placido. He too has this passion of doing different things as long as they’re connected to the theatre, which can be like a drug.
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* I was thinking precisely of this drug when I asked you what would happen when years pass. Names of divas from the past that had a hard time giving up this life come to my mind. They wanted to be divas even when it wasn’t the case anymore. Will you have the wisdom and courage to step back from the spotlight? This is a Romanian way of thinking. Mirella Freni sung a lot, Montserrat Caballe too. Maybe when they started the career they told themselves “I’ll give up when time comes, I’ll do this and that”. Well, it’s not that easy. I try to imagine what Montserrat Caballe tells herself when she’s invited to sing. People want so much to see those they adore that they would be happy just to see them walk on stage, maybe to sing whatever they like using the key they want. Who can do it… why not?
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* fragment from La Fille de Regiment with Montserrat Caballe
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AG: It is difficult to understand that there are people, especially in classical music, that are very happy that a certain person exists and still can say “I went to see X or Y”. Also 30 or 40 year old singers can have bad nights. This can happen to anybody. When we buy a ticket we know that the person we’re about to see is 70 years old. It’s a convention. Theatre is a convention. Opera is a convention.
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* I enjoy this when what I listen to matches my expectations, to what I was used to see and hear. This might be a mistake. We have the CD and we want to listen live, on stage, what we have listened to at home. People who come to opera have a certain age, it was proved. There are also young people coming to opera but most of them are elder. And they set their minds on certain recordings with people in the past.
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* Montserrat Caballe came to Bucharest about 2 months ago. And I was one of those who raised and applauded when she entered the stage because she’s who she is and I wanted to listen to her live all my life. And after the first bars I was very, very sad and the feeling remained till she left It doesn’t matter.
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* Not for her. It mattered for me. You had both happiness and sadness. I would have liked to ask at least 100 people in the audience if they liked or not.
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* Maybe they liked it. Yes. If that artist makes so many people happy, why he/she shouldn’t accept the invitation? You’re right in what you say. It should be like that. When you feel the slightest uncertainty you should say “that’s enough”. I think it’s very difficult. And if you ask me what Angela will do, I don’t know. I want to have the strength to say “enough”, move on and enjoy what’s left.
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The next and last part of the interview will be broadcasted next Thursday, October 22nd, on TVR Cultural at 10:30pm, local time.

3 comments:

  1. Very nice and interesting interview. Angela seems to be relaxed and in the pic at the top she looks great.

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  2. Yes, interestig. Different too.
    Only that last part is tricky and debatable. It's a huge pleasure to see the person you admire on stage but the voice is also important, especially that it's not the first time when you attend an opera or concert. I experienced this situation in the past and it's exactly how Marius Constantinesc said. I was sad.

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  3. Linda Smith19/10/09 9:29 PM

    I think if you go to see an older singer (past their prime, as they say) and expect to hear them sound like they did in their 30's or 40's you are being a bit unrealistic. As Angela said, you must have the sense to say, "that's enough" and be content to listen to the old recordings. On the other hand, if you just want to see them walk out on stage in order to applaud them for their past achievements, then you should go without those expectations. People went to see Maria Callas when she could barely get a note out simply to "see" her. Watching those films is difficult but the audience treats her as if she were 20 years younger. This alone must have meant something to her or she wouldn't have done it.

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