Part I - Music and pure emotion with Angela Gheorghiu. Interview on Radio Romania Muzical
The interview realized by Luminita Arvunescu was broadcast on December 24, 2011 on Radio Romania Muzical. I enjoyed it so much that I thought many of you would feel the same. So here it is, translated from beginning to end. Great choice of arias. Hadn't listened to Ave Maria in a while. The main topic of conversation is "Homage to Maria Callas", with comments on some of the arias. Lots of "whys" and all get an answer. In between the q&a's there are the arias they have previously talked about. And many others (including some carols), as you'll hear. It's two hours long. But you'll see that time flies faster than you want to.
One sound was enough and lots of opportunities showed up, as you well know. Nowadays only one syllabus she utters is necessary to turn a lock into dust. And only one gesture, her famous movement of the right hand that hundreds of opera goers love, can make armors fall, royalty wait for her and head of states appreciate her. And most of all, it can get standing ovations from a packed venue, thanking for everything she gives, music and pure emotion.
What singing means to Angela Gheorghiu, what her expectations from the audience are, how she feels like when she cancels a performance or she makes mistakes, what kind of music she listens to when she’s not listening to opera and where she’s going to spend the holidays, you’ll find out from this interview. Not only she offered this interview exclusively for you, my faithful listeners, but it turned from a conversation related to the release of the latest album with EMI, “Homage to Maria Callas”, new projects and the reconciliation with Roberto Alagna (a topic I tried to approach but she quietly stopped me) into one remembering the Christmas time in Adjud. She confessed that it’s a very dear memory to her.
No matter where I am I try to recreate the Christmas spirit from Adjud for myself, my family and my friends. I try to bring somebody to sing a Romanian Christmas carol for me. She doesn’t have to wait too long for somebody to sing her a Romanian Christmas carol. Roberto can sing the most beautiful one. Any idea? (n.r. “O, ce veste minunata”)
If I have the opportunity to participate in a Christmas concert, for sure I’ll sing a Romanian Christmas carol. Last time I sung a carol was two-three years ago when I was in New York for La Rondine, the first opera broadcast in cinema in Romania. It was a concert at St Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue in New York. I agreed to sing Catholic music on one condition to sing “O, ce veste minunata”. If they let me feel good in my own way, then they’ll have an enjoyable evening too. Tonight we’re together. Because Angela told me that holidays should be spent with friends. And here she’s always among friends.
I’ve been listening to you for years and all the time I feel you tell me much more than the story of the character you’re impersonating. Many people feel the same. I couldn’t say what overwhelms me. Maybe you can help.
I hope that every time you listen to me you feel my emotions. I’m nervous both on stage and in the recording studio. I want to make you believe in what I believe. With each character I give a part of me. I pay a tribute for this. I share my life with everybody else. I’ve been packing and travelling for 20 years, people are waiting for me as if I was born yesterday. I’m 46 and I have nothing to hide. Everybody knows when and where I was born and what my mission is.
And you’re fully aware of this.
Is it true that pain, defeat, joy and dream can all be seeded in a tear? Sure, if it springs from pure emotion and express the endlessness in music.
When I was young I never thought of the future, what I would do, where I would be. I just did everything without asking myself questions.
And you’re still not making plans
No. Well, sure that I have a schedule for the next four – five years. This is how it works.
So many years ahead…
Yes, I need to have a schedule. All the artists with an international career have the oblivion to know for sure that in four years they have to be in a certain place at 10am to start the rehearsals.
But you don’t think of what will happen in four - five years
When I decide singing a role and it’s there, in my schedule, then I have no doubt I’ll do it.
It happened the same with Angela’s latest CD, “Homage to Maria Callas”, recorded last year. No doubts, no reservations. Sure as all her decisions. It has the great virtue of inviting to audition not with respect or admiration as it happened with other CDs, but with total acceptance. Because it was created out of love for Maria Callas and for the public.
From the beginning I said that “Homage to Maria Callas” represents Angela Gheorghiu best. I think that it represents your past, present and future. Is it correct?
In a way, it is.
Let’s see what past, present and future mean.
It all started with Maria’s “Habanera” and for the first time it was possible to create such a duet in opera. We’re colleagues at EMI and this counted a lot. There were many things that supported the idea. When I first heard the idea, it seemed unreal. I had initially started working on a CD of Romanian music and had already recorded four or five song. Then this Maria Callas idea showed up.
Was it EMI’s idea?
Yes. They didn’t give too many details. Only that they wanted something related to her. I thought it shouldn’t be something too dramatic. It should be something that we could sing together. We knew there would be a video too so we wanted to present a feminine imagine for both of us. We like to cry when watching opera. It’s an endless source of tears and emotions. I accepted to do Habanera and it was technically possible. And the fact that we are colleagues at EMI was another reason. The result was impressive and I’m glad I did it. When Maria was my age she had already stopped singing so I wanted to bring a true homage to her. That’s why the repertoire is eclectic. I didn’t want to record songs she performed only on stage or only on recordings. Each aria had its own story. There was a reason for choosing them.
We’ll speak about each aria you included on the CD. And we start with La Boheme.
La Boheme is the story of my life.
What I liked most is that it’s not the first aria but the amazing “Donde lieta”
It’s my first successful aria. At my audition at Royal Opera House I only performed this aria. And I persuaded them. For me La Boheme means London, Covent Garden, my private life.
Listening to this aria I figured out that this CD totally represents you. La Boheme was less important for Maria Callas but it meant a lot to Angela Gheorghiu.
It was a curious moment. In order to sing La Boheme you need…
Warmth and simplicity…
And a certain way of living. I lived La Boheme. It means my falling in love, my second marriage. For sure I was in love with my first husband, Andrei, but La Boheme brought a change in my life. I made my debuts with La Boheme. I’m so connected to this opera.
Let’s move on to the second aria, Marguerite’s aria from Faust. What does this aria mean for you?
It’s typical French music.
And the Jewel Song?
Marguerite is a very difficult role. Many of my colleagues, Maria included, avoided it by all means. Because you have to be able to advance from this aria in the second act towards the final act and the most dramatic moment of the opera. It’s an endurance role. Sometimes the opera seems endless, same as Romeo et Juliette. And because French composers love to have ballet in their operas, it is even longer. So you have to be prepared to watch all of it.
** to be continued **