Interview in Forbes Romania - English translation - Part 1
This interview entitled "Angela Gheorghiu: The Story" by Sorana Savu was published in Forbes Romania at the beginning of May. I wanted to translate this because I liked it a lot. It took me a while because it's very long but now it's ready.
It's among my favorite interviews ever because of the approach (and you'll see it's not a regular Q&A), of the atmosphere, of the tone, of the personal touch, and most of all because it's well documented offering me new info. Congrats to Mrs Savu and thank you very much for allowing me to translate and post it!
The Romanian version is available online, on the website of Forbes Romania.
Enjoy the first part (out of three)!
Angela Gheorghiu: The Story"
By Sorana Savu
You don’t need to read too much about Angela Gheorghiu or talk to her at length to realize she lives a life of luxury. And I’m not talking about the beauty of stages she performs on, the level of the fees she receives, the value of her personal brand or other material goods. In the world of opera, being yourself has its own price. It’s a luxury. Colleagues of hers say that after years and years of career they still can’t say no to directors or conductors, preferring to hide and cry in their dressing rooms.
Whenever she says no, Angela Gheorghiu is taking full responsibility for a lot of things – not only the nasty nicknames randomly given by journalists who have no idea where Romania is on a map, nor the disappointment of the audience that bought the tickets months in advance and find out that she cancelled at the last moment, but also the probability of losing some future engagements. It’s a tough perspective in the world of opera where nothing lasts forever.
Some say she doesn’t know humility. But if she were any different (which is out of question for her, anyway), she would be accused of hypocrisy. Being internationally famous and having such a strong character, you are bound to have both fans and detractors. It’s hard to find the middle way and to keep it.
She admits that sometimes her stories do seem arrogant but since they are true, there’s no other way to tell them. After all, she is not the only talented person who found her calling at a very young age and is willing to talk about it.
Every now and then such people do appear – they are discovered early and those around them witness their talent and energy during ever so early as elementary school or high school. They are appreciated and guided. All the doors open for them, good things happen to them. Angela Gheorghiu is among those people for whom the stars have been aligning for almost 25 years.
If you judge the situation through the eyes of a regular person who has worked for each step of his or her Co, who has faced drawbacks and hasn’t been able achieve the goals despite the struggle, it’s frustrating to hear things like this. But still, they’re true. Her 20-year career proves it and for the skeptics there are always the videos on YouTube, the DVDs and CDs as well the possibility of listening to anything and comparing her to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
“If you leave aside the words – that I, or the journalists, or my friends, or my fans say – there’s something that will remain true beyond all conversations, and that is the result of my work. Our work is what remains after all of us - when everything has been said and done. My legacy is my art. I took a lot of time to create it, I had time to prove myself”
As she said, knowing very well that her statements may sound arrogant, Angela Gheorghiu didn’t have time to wish for something. She was, she did. She accomplished.
Before 1989 she often appeared in TV broadcasts. Young Angela Burlacu, a soprano like no other – full of life, emotion and character – shining in a dull, somber and stiff environment. As a freshman student at the Music Conservatory in Bucharest, having graduated from the Music High School under Mia Barbu’s guidance, Angela Gheorghiu had already achieved (and was merely polishing) her vocal talent and self-confidence.
The formal or informal feedbacks of those close to her regarding her performances, made her quickly understand that her gift was special. Besides the criticism and shy compliments that we share with an artist, the music has the tendency of revealing the most genuine and spontaneous emotions.
These reactions taught Angela Gheorghiu how high she could aim and she was not afraid to do it. Legendary Romanian TV producer Iosif Sava told her before a TV broadcast, that she would become famous one day. “I was 18, it was my first month at the Conservatory and there was a live broadcast with Iosif Sava. I remember him saying: all you have to do now is to practice, but in good time you will sing at the Metropolitan, no worries about that”
The simple remark was not a trifle – considering that this happened in times when it was difficult for Romanians to have a passport, let alone get a US visa. When a career was equal to “being appointed there”, “being sent somewhere else” with or without consent; when traveling abroad or having a career were not among individual freedoms.
“Iosif Sava’s words meant a lot to me even if back then he might have said them with a smile. Without false modesty, I understood what I had to do from the beginning, judging from the reaction of my colleagues; people came back to Romania after performing abroad, all those big names of the Romanian music. I knew I had a destiny, a course to follow and beautiful people around me from whom I had a lot to learn”
The live broadcasts, the constant proximity of the world of theatre and television added to the velvet voice with a unique timbre (a rare thing in opera) and to her undisputed charisma, the experience of working in front of a camera and a full understanding of acting and its limitations.
We know that she performed in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, President Barak Obama, but not too many know that Angela Gheorghiu also performed in front of Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1986. At 21, unwillingly, she had already become the unofficial ambassador of Romania.
To be continued