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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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Part 1, in ENGLISH - The interview at "Vocea umana" on Radio Romania Cultural

The interview Angela Gheorghiu gave to Mihaela Soare for "Vocea umana" was broadcast on Ester, on April 16 and 17 on Radio Romania Cultural. The main topic was "Homage to Maria Callas" but there are many other musical topics brought up.

For all those writing to me asking "what is she saying?", here you go. This is the first part. The rest of it is coming soon.

The audio below is in Romanian, featuring arias from "Homage to Maria Callas" and not only.  


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The Easter Holidays are emotionally profound. They’re a period of reflections, of joy. “The Human Voice” fits in the context perfectly. Singing means praise to the gift received, to the people. On this occasion I brought you not only the voice I know that you love very much but also the artist’s thoughts during a conversation we had in Bucharest, in winter.  I waited longer to broadcast this dialog because I needed a special moment. So here we are, during the Holidays.

We talked about the CD dedicated to Maria Callas, the main reason of our meeting. But the words, the ideas rolled towards other topics. This resulted in a singer talking about singing, an artist talking about art, sacrifices and happiness, a diva talking about what’s hiding behind this supreme image. It was an evening full of emotion and curiosity on my side, full of patience, openness and the wish to be clearly understood by the audience on her side. In front of me there was a woman even more beautiful that I had known her, fresh, joyful after many hours of interviews. And we talked. For you, on these holy days, Angela Gheorghiu.

“Opera is a battlefield and the weapons are the technique and the voice” said Maria Callas almost 50 years ago. After tens of years another prima donna of international opera, Angela Gheorghiu, says, “I want to fight for opera, to be taken seriously. Pop is for the body, opera is for the soul”. Half century later, do you think that Opera still need knight-like, female defenders?

I don’t feel like a knight. The word “fight” is a little too much. Better said, I try to persuade, I try to make people discover, to discover me, to make them curious, to make them understand classical music, generally speaking, and opera music particularly. We speak about a very complex form of art. Many people have no idea what it is about, meaning that they don’t know where it comes from. Lots of ads use opera music. Certain pieces seem so familiar that sometimes people are misinformed. If they are not lucky enough to step into this world they are mazed. I do my best to make all those who meet me think that I'm a normal human being, that she portrays a character on stage that could be your own reflection, as in a movie. Many times I contradict myself but I have to. When it’s native, the human voice must be prized.

Nowadays we listen to opera with our eyes. We’re not having this conversation now because I look good or I wear a beautiful dress.  The reason is my gift or as I call it, my mission. Since the beginning I understood what I had to do.  I want to make people understand certain phenomena but at the same time I must admit there has been a progress in the world of opera. It’s not always legitimate, but you can’t deny it. During auditions, directors and opera managers pay more and more attention to those who have a pleasant appearance, leaving the voice in the background.  

We’ll make a loop in our conversation because you brought up a topic that I want to talk about later. It is said that in the present opera needs good-looking, intelligent artists, on top to the divine gift. They need to be good actors, to have appropriate gestures and many other qualities that, in theory, were not required to such extent some years ago. 

You know the reason. From this point of view they’re not right. But don’t forget that in the past 20 years, everything I did onstage was filmed. So I’m an example of the previous statement. And because of filming the situation changed. If you’re an opera manager, you have to think twice. And many times the one that has a sensational body wins. For a certain repertoire the physical appearance is not very important. But for leading roles portraying young characters that have to make the story believable, I tend to understand this phenomenon. Also in my generation there was a Wagnerian soprano criticizes for her robust appearance. It was so stupid. Sometimes I’m furious about this. When I can change things, I do it. This is a trend and it’s very difficult to fight. 

Of what I have heard live so far, there are interesting artists, beautiful women, handsome men but not at the high vocal standard required by important theaters. Going fifty years back again, Maria Callas said that you need experience in order to sing at La Scala. 
This statement makes me laugh and I don’t agree. It’s not fashionable anymore.

It’s not fashionable but you could notice the reactions in some performances…
I don’t agree. Talented artists already sing in big theaters. La Scala is a phenomenon. They have a serious problem and something goes wrong there. I didn’t care if I sang at La Scala or not. I still don’t care. For sure this theatre is not what it used to be. It’s not about the building because it’s a beautiful opera house. It’s about where it is.  I agree with what Roberto did. More than that, I believe that this reaction of the public towards someone who made an undesired mistake is similar to physical or verbal aggression at someone in the street.  After such a reaction the police should come. And one more thing, which artist in this world would go on stage to make mistakes on purpose? It’s not civilized. In figure skating the audience supports the skaters who make mistakes. You’re entitled not to like the performance. Nobody made you come. The audience knows the cast. If you came to listen to me, you must support me and love me even more. If you don’t like something and I make a mistake you have two options: either leave the venue or don’t applaud.  

The virulence of the Italian audience is well known, without any particular reason.
In a civilized world these reactions should disappear. It’s tragi-comic and not normal. It should be dealt with quickly. 

We should be aware that each artist lives in his/her own time.  I didn’t have that mentality, on the contrary. I always wanted to sing in big theaters, to have only important roles; I didn’t take into consideration old-fashioned ideas that said you should start from small theaters, to be an apprentice first. Today all young and talented people have opportunities if they want. There are so many good singers that win competitions.  They speak all the important foreign languages, they studied music, and they already know the roles.  The progress is obvious. Further on, those who make a career need many other things such an agency. Problems might appear, but it’s normal.

I don’t want to plead for something I didn’t like because I’m here with an artist that I like so much that it would be strange to insist on the topic. You mentioned the young singers and this connects perfectly to my first question. I said on purpose that you fight for music as each great artist does. I see how thrilled you are when speaking of artists, of colleagues. I find it elegant and important. You’re an artist who defends her guild. 

On the other hand, this leads to another question related to your passion when speaking about talented young singers. If you were in front of a hall full of Romanian young people, young ladies that dream of being like Angela Gheorghiu one day, young men that dream of reaching the top of the pyramid, what would you tell them?
I’ve never done a master class, not yet. I refused the invitations. Next year will be my first master class in the memory of my beloved friend Georg Solti, in Italy, with the BBC.  I have a long list of things to say. I don’t want to abridge a destiny in an interview. 

I understand perfectly.
These young people should have the luck to find the proper teacher. There is no ideal teacher. I don’t believe in this idea. I believe in the ideal meeting.  

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much Irina, it is very interesting !

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