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Joy is also exhausting - interview in The One, in English

The interview is published in the April issue of One Magazine. As many asked "what is she saying?", here you go. About enjoying life, about singing for pleasure and about how stardom can be both burden and excitement. For copyright issues (the interview is not available online), I only translated parts of it.

The ONE: What are your future plans?
A.G.: The schedule of an important artist is set years in advance, as mine is ready until 2016 – 2017. In a few days I’ll be in Los Angeles for a recital, then I’ll go to Covent Garden, I’ll have a concert at Royal Festival Hall… I want to be healthy, to have strength because I’m not machinery. I always say I don’t wake up like this, with the make up and hairdo, each step I make is carefully prepared.
All I do is to be an artist on the stage, very well prepared each time, and I like to be always surprising. From my point of view, the repertoire can surprise the audience and I’m also to prepare pieces of music for those who might not have heard of Angela Gheorghiu. I want to make people aware of the gift I was given, my voice. I consider it a perfect instrument coming from my soul and I share it with you, my audience. But the road of my voice to your hearts is preceded by the work of the composer and librettist. The singer is also important, without him or her works lose their value.

The ONE: How does your family life go together with your fame and the fact you’re a diva?
A.G.: I’m in peace with myself. All the appellations from your question are part of who I am. It’s not an extra effort, everything comes out natural either I’m a friend, lover, colleague. When I’m home I don’t ware make up or fancy outfits, and everybody loves me for who I am. When I go out I’m fully aware that people might be curious as they recognize me. If I see somebody coming towards me, if they want to have a photo taken with me, I don’t feel awkward. I feel confortable. People are looking at me in a certain way and I got used to it. I had to. I don’t know how it is to be a person like any other, I always felt special. When I was young I was Angela Burlacu and I started to sing at 17, my first concert with an orchestra took place at the Romanian Athenaeum. Starting 18, I have been performing with professionals and even if I was still a student, I was considered a professional too. I was very hard working and I felt I was meant to do something.

The ONE: You felt that from the beginning?
A.G.: Yes, I’m not making any effort. But I feel all the eyes watching me. It’s a kind of stress, right? When you know you’re being watched you control yourself, you’re stiffen or you feel this energy everywhere around you. Joy is also exhausting. All these daily emotions… It would be interesting if a journalist could spend a few days with me, or one day only. I have a ritual that exhausts me, from agony to ecstasy: the performance and people’s happiness, the awareness that I have to do my best, to fight the emotions; all these things are energy consuming. If I think of what we did here today, I could say it’s not easy to be Angela Gheorghiu. My mother once told me she would need two hearts to stand the joy. I can imagine what a mother can feel hearing her child asking her all the time to get her the music high school, to do this or that, to listen to her singing all the time. For me Angela = emotions of all kind.

The ONE: Are you still nervous before entering the stage?
A.G.: More and more! I think that all the artists accept that experience does not decrease the nervousness, on the contrary. I’m aware that people have expectations. People coming to the performances know what they’re about to listen to, they have expectations and if I’m not as good as they want me to be, their reaction is obvious to me. Going back to the point when I explained why I don’t want to disappoint anyone, when I’m not well I prefer to stay at home. I admit that I don’t feel well on that precise day and I don’t want the audience to suffer with me.

The ONE: Are you nostalgic? Do you have regrets?
A.G.: Yes, I’m nostalgic. I was nostalgic even when I was 10! I have beautiful memories from my childhood. For example, we had lunch at a three legged, round table with small chairs around it. One of my grandmothers used to put a huge, steamy polenta on the table. I have the feeling I live in a fairy tale and I’m the happiest child in the world. It was an immense joy to decorate the Christmas tree and I felt my home was the most beautiful and the tidiest, that I was the most elegant, I thought I was the center of the universe! Sometimes I was that happy that I needed to go outside, in the garden, to be by myself and enjoy that happiness.

The ONE: What else is to check on your list of accomplishments?
A.G.: I never thought like that. I’m atypical, I don’t ask for contracts, I’m being asked and I can say yes or not. I’m the creator and I can choose the projects. There are fans, people I know, hundreds, even thousands of them. Any artist needs to be admired. That’s for sure. Usually the person in from of me knows who I am. It’s been like this forever, I don’t know who it is like not to be Angela Gheorghiu!

The ONE: What kind of music are you listening to?
A.G.: Music offers me balance from early morning; it’s like a vitamin to me. I listen to all sorts or songs. I like to listen to classical music in the evening. I also enjoy listening to traditional songs from everywhere in the world. But I couldn’t live without classical music. The one who understands and feels the need to listen to classical music is an accomplished person. It is like meeting God and being aware that angels and saints, strong and sensitive people do exist. I remember I was once in New York at lunch honoring Franco Zeffirelli. Jeremy Irons was seated next to me and he joked saying “Make me cry!”We laughed but guess who cried a few days later? He did!

The ONE: Is faith important to you?
A.G.: It is very important, it’s essential. I don’t agree with faith for fear, I don’t do something for fear God will punish me; I genuinely want to offer joy. I’m a very positive and optimist person, I’m not part of those who suffer in order to create.

The ONE: Do you think that for women tolerance comes with age?
A.G.: The key word is harmony. But I’m aware we’re different. In a couple, when you start changing the person next to you according to your ideas, you might be surprised. You must accept and get used to his personality. I like people with strong personalities who know how to live the moment and have something to say, people who can teach me something.

The ONE: What are the indulgences you can’t live without?
A.G.: I can’t live without, I like to be spoiled. I’m not among those who deny it.


  1. I don't mean to sound rude, but I find it strange that when asked about her future plans, Angela doesn't give any specific information about her ambitions, repertoire she'd like to learn, projects etc. doesn't she have anything she'd really like to do - a dream role?

  2. Well Anonymous I think she's given us many dream roles! And for once an interview is about Angela the person more than the performer and I for one am delighted. The most insightful and interesting I have read in many years. Many things I have wondered about are answered here and what an amazing and wonderful mother she has 'I need two hearts to withstand the joy' No wonder Angela is such a joyful optimistic person. Thank you Irina this was such a pleasure to read. Anne D

  3. Dear Anonymous, just live the moment! Buy tickets, go listen to her every time you have the opportunity. Interviews are not interrogatories so don't look for specific info. Appreciate the person, love and respect the artist.

  4. With all due respect, the question she was asked about was her future plans - her career. I think it would be perfectly normal to offer some more specific information. I love Angela's singing, I just find it a little disappointing that she either doesn't want to divulge her plans or doesn't have anything new lines up. She used to have a list of future roles in her biography - Lucia, Elisabetta, Alceste, Donna Elvira. These have now vanished - so does that mean she doesn't plan to sing them?