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On the cover of Das Opernglas - interview and review

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The latest issue of Das Opernglas features an interview with Angela regarding the debut with Adriana and some other staff such as the photos (previously published in Viva Magazine) included in the article. Some excerpts from the interview can be read online, on the website of Opernglas (click on "interview"). The translation (or, better said, the attempt) is below. There might be some mistakes (blame Google!) but I gladly accept a correct version.
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Lady G. - Not Gaga, but pure glamor. Diva Angela Gheorghiu in conversation with Richard Erkens over Berlin, verismo and cool photos (Excerpts from the interview)
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Ms Gheorghiu, you have come to Berlin to sing at the Deutsche Oper the title role of "Adriana Lecouvreur," a role debut. How did you experience the Berlin premiere audience?
A great audience, I was very impressed. It was a real triumph! I’m now for the third time in Berlin, […]. I performed in "Roméo et Juliette" and I have sung “L’Amico Fritz” by Mascagni two years ago . But this time it was very special because it is debut in such a large role and with such a wonderful team of friends and colleagues. Together with Marco Armiliato on the podium and the great and so friendly orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, we had an unforgettable evening. It’s important to have such colleagues because Cilea’s score is not easy.
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This opera will be staged in November at the Royal Opera House in London. Was the performance in Berlin a sort of public dress rehearsal?
No, not at all. Opera in concert has a completely different and distinct atmosphere that can not be compared to the staged productions. And it really doesn’t matter if I have sung the role previously, or not. As a singer you have to invest the same in a role. I have to say that concert performances are even more difficult for me because there is not too much space to move. Especially for a character like that of Adriana, you need independence on stage and the role is very difficult when you can’t move. The possibility of movement is very limited and this creates a very different theatrical atmosphere. It is difficult also because in the third act I have to deliver a monologue. I need to talk. I do that only in “Traviata”, when I read the letter from the pere Germont. But in “Adriana” I am a real actress with a spoken monologue - I love that! In London there will be a new stage production. It is important to me when I sing a role for the first time. I have a very good experience with director David McVicar, as we have worked together for "Faust". He's incredibly talented and one of my favoritedirectors. Therefore, I asked him if he wants to direct the production. […]
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You already mentioned a special feature of this role, namely the Parisian actress Adriana, who is a historical figure that died under mysterious circumstances in1730s. At that time there was a veritable social scandal. What attracts you to this role?
I was surprised when I discovered that over half of the music for Adriana […]. I thought it would be a role for a spinto soprano. But it is not! The text is very much in the foreground. This is a feature of the role that is very important. In addition, I am fascinated by the clear distinction of the female vocal subjects: the mezzo part is clearly my competitor, Principessa de Buillon. Cilea distinguished voice types and characters very well.
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Is there a need for a special vocal technique to perform verismo? Is it vocally different for you when you sing Violetta or Adriana?
No, there is no difference. But now you remind me of my first verismo-roles I'm singing with Plácido Domingo, namely "Fedora" by Umberto Giordano. At that time I realized that you have to deal with this repertoire, just more careful with the voice. I’m careful not to get to my limits, even if it is required. Verismo is not the healthiest repertoire, it should not be sung too often. It helps if you’re a bit selfish and can behave with restraint. But then when I'm on stage, I forget all these concerns.
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You have already mentioned "L'amico Fritz" already, and "La Rondine," that was just released on DVD, now "Adriana Lecouvreur" follows. Are you specifically looking for less-known operas in this period?
I simply like these operas, this is my motivation. I have to dig a program, unknown opera for its own sake. I love opera and listen to many things. When I find something that suits my voice and my character, I bring it to the stage. This is actually very simple. But when I went for something, I'm very much into them, and leave nothing to chance. This starts with the selection of colleagues ...
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... as it was the case with Jonas Kaufmann
Yes, exactly. I know Jonas for a long time. My manager gave me a video with him and Cecilia Bartoli. They sung in 2002 in Paisiello’s "Nina." I was looking for a new tenor for "La Traviata" at the Metropolitan Opera, and recently we needed someone for the "Rondine" at Covent Garden. I told Peter Katona, "Let’s get this young tenor!" And he made his debut in London and later in New York and also at La Scala. I have driven his career and convinced him to leave Zurich and to make a big career. Even as we recorded later, "Madama Butterfly" for EMI, it was not so easy to convince the record company to commit to such a role as Pinkerton […]. I am happy that I had the right ear and the right feeling! Incidentally, it was similar to Roberto Alagna: I notice quickly if someone has a special voice.
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The photos present you in an unusual […]. You obviously like to play with your options?
I love it! I like to surround myself with beautiful things, and why should I not show that? If I have the opportunity to introduce myself as well and I want different outfits, then show me this way and not apologize for me.
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Can this side of an opera star also help to address a larger, perhaps even foreign opera audience?
All singers in the history of opera have been trying to reach a large audience. But why? We all know that especially today, classical music - specifically the opera - does not interest everyone. But not because the opera would be the entertainment for a social elite, but just because this music is not always easy to hear and it's hard sometimes to approach it. It takes often a lot of time, not everyone has. It is not always a question of lack of training: Also a good Mathematics teacher at school does not manage to get all enthusiastic about Mathematics. Some light classical music appeal to all certainly, but the art form of opera is not made for everyone. This is a simple truth. Even the most tasteful thing in life is not for every day and not made for everyone. If it were, it would lose its appeal immediately.Of course, I try with my art to reach a large audience, but I'm mainly with crossover projects, so with lighter things. We can not have the largest audience in Wagner. And man needs both pop for the body and classical music for the soul!
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And then the review
of the premiere of "Adriana Lecouvreur" at Deutsche Oper Berlin (click on "Premieren" then on "Berlin"). This is just an excerpt (as it is mentioned on the website). The writer agrees that both Angela and Jonas made e very good impression, that the parts fit them like gloves and that they delivered the music with emotion and deep involvement and because of this nobody really missed the sets and costumes (I think I said that too, didn’t I?).
If there’s more in the magazine that we all should know about, please let me know.
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Claudia, thanks ;)
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8 comments:

  1. Very interesting interview.
    I´m surprised to find out that it is the decision of a soprano,not the decision of the music director of an opera house or its management, who will direct a new production or will sing the tenor leading role ;)

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  2. Angela is a real Diva, not just a soprano and many productions were/are/will be built around her.A.Pappano has recently declared in ROH magazine that 2 new productions are built around Angela.On the other way, it is well-known that Angela is recognised as a fantastic connaiseur of voices.
    For me there's no surprise.Chris

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  3. Built around her, as the Met-production of "Carmen" was supposed to be built around her, until it finally became the huge Elina-Garanca-Show? (still with the same director!)So, what does this term "built around an artist" really mean apart from promoting a production? Opera companys need to sell the tickets, so they use famous names, which they replace by other famous names, if necessary (and often by not-so-famous names, who than have the chance to become famous).
    It´s okay for a Diva (btw, generally, this term has negative connotations nowadays) to do some self-promotion, but please in a reasonable extent.

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  4. Hello everybody! I'm here quite new but read this blog regularly. Firstly, I love these photos with Jonas from Berlin. Lovely... lovely couple. Secondly, sth is bothering me. Angela said that back then she had a very good experience with David McVicar. Well, do you remember the article from 'Opera News' titled 'Angela Assoluta'? And what we can find there? That the cooperation between these two certainly wasn't a bed of roses:

    "Even her critically acclaimed performances don't always have an easy birth. Take, for instance, the sold-out run of Faust at Covent Garden in 2004. When asked about his working relationship with Gheorghiu on that production, director David McVicar chooses his words carefully: "I'm trying to put this into words that you can publish in something where you want to speak well of Angela. Presumably this is a positive profile you're doing of her." Silence. Then … several more minutes of silence. That was the end of the interview."

    http://www.operanews.com/operanews/templates/content.aspx?id=3472

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  5. I totally agree with Angela about the popularity of opera these days. They can only do so much and will only ever reach a more limited number of people. Why does everything need to be marketed like pop music? Opera is opera, and most people don't have the attention span or don't want to give the time required to listen to a complete work. You can't force opera on people; people have to come to it themselves naturally. Opera is not like a Hollywood movie and should not be marketed as such but many opera companies seem to think that they can get more people to show up if they advertise it that way.

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  6. The reference to the Met-production of "Carmen" was just a mean thing from Edda.You know the circumstances of that moment so I won't comment more on that.What I cannot understand is what bothers you so much, or what Angela said incorrectly.I do not see anything wrong with building a performance around a person who can offer a beautiful approach of the role, artistry,good acting,beauty,uniqueness and why not glamour,promotion and money.
    Of course any Diva's choises are supervised by directors,management,etc.Without them not a single performance would be possible.
    Angela probably has as many flaws as any human being but she has such an immense talent and is extremely gifted.Because of her I became close to opera as a listener. And I thank her for that. Disclosing the ravishing beauty of Opera means a LOT.
    Chris.

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  7. Personally I think Angela has earned the right to request repertoire and casts that she prefers. Things don't always work out. Sometimes people cancel. But you need to aim for something, artisically, in the first instance. There may be compromise eventually but you have to aim high to start with.

    It's true that opera cannot appeal to all (or be afforded), but it is still important to educate and share information. To benignly sit back and say "why bother...if they don't like it, who cares" would be a death knell for opera. But I think the abstraction of designs and the bizarre productions currently fashionable are impossible for novice audiences to fathom. That outs more people off than anything else.

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  8. @James. I agree. The right was earned after years of hard working. And who knows what's better for her than Angela herself? The Management knows that it's always better to get together people that match aritistically and vocally than making all sorts of weird combinations hoping to be successful.
    Cancellations is a tought topic to talk about. I personally dislike it especially when I have tickets for that particular performance. It happened many times. And I said it. But we should try to see this from the other point of view. What happened with Carmen was based on personal reasons as far as it was written in the press. Would you feel like singing when you suffer? No. Don't forget that all what Angela and the others do on stage make us feel in a certain way. Negative vibes would be extremely unpleasant. Many people detect imediatelly that there's something wrong and the opera doesn't flow as it supposed to. The artists don't want this to happen.

    @James. Again. Sharing.. this is what I'm trying to do with this blog, and with the other one with photos. I share my emotions and hope that other would be curious to experience it in an opera house.

    @Newbee. Welcome, and thanks for reading the blog :). Everybody has ups and downs. Two strong personalities colide sometimes. But it seems that they get along very well now and Adriana will be a hit.

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