Your concert on February 14th at Musikverein…
…It's a big celebration for me and I don't want to miss it.
How did you decide to combine Schumann with Spanish songs?
The main themes of the evening are love and life. In a song concert, you are basically your own director. The best thing is to try something in so-called sessions with a pianist. Helmut Deutsch is an encyclopedia in itself. I think he's played almost everything before. Our idea was to tell the story of the musical duo Schumann. You know their life story. Clara was a superstar at the piano, which is also evident in her very distinctive composing style. Robert encouraged her. We conclude the set with songs by Clara and Robert with “His Dedication,” the song he gave to Clara at her wedding. Then come the Spaniards, because my heart beats for Spain.
At the Met Gala in New York, she danced flamenco as Rosina in Rossini's “The Barber of Seville.” What awaits us?
You will hear flamenco miniatures – and you will have something to laugh about with these songs, because they are bold but also invite you to dream. Fernando G. Obrador transformed popular songs into true art songs. You can hear the Spanish spirit, “Amor y vida” in Spanish.
Schumann's cycle “Woman's Love and Life” tells about a woman whose life is centered on her husband. With what feelings do you sing this day in a time of equality?
I just imagine the guy feels exactly the same way. This is pure love. It's not about morals or being social, it's about real feelings.
This season they only offer concerts. Are you retiring from acting in opera?
No, but I just want to spend more time with my kids. They are 11 and 13 now and need me. A maximum of two productions per year is enough for me. I also need more time for myself to learn new things and to clarify: What is important to me? What belongs to me? Where do I want to go? Now I do passion projects. Next year will be a great first role.
Is the Queen of Coloratura looking to change the subject?
There will be more German repertoire, more Mozart and Strauss.
Is the marshalin present in the “Rosenkavalier”?
maybe. I'm working on scheduling a new concert with Jonas Kaufmann, and at the moment I'm looking forward to the next concert at the Musikverein, “Spring in Vienna”. I sing Poulenc's “Gloria,” which has been on my list since I was a student.
Audiences yearn for beautiful productions, Jonas Kaufmann said. They are becoming increasingly rare. Is that why you rarely appear at opera?
I have to say, I feel the same way. I don't want to have to constantly transform things into something that no longer has anything to do with beauty and perhaps has nothing to do with the piece at all. You don't always have to like everything, that's not the point. The production has to have depth and convey something. There are interesting recent productions that look at a piece of music from a different perspective, such as Willy Dekker's “La Traviata,” which I sang at the Metropolitan Museum. But it doesn't always have to be ugly and/or violent to reflect something about our society. Like constantly running around the stage in an undershirt: I don't really have to give myself that!
Many of your colleagues believe that directors are taken more seriously than singers. do you agree?
This is correct. We have to connect the director's ideas and transform them with the music and the piece. The funny thing is, people think we're replaceable. Of course we are to some extent. That's a good thing, but we do a huge amount of work, and if it goes well, it's a credit not only to the director, but also to the singers, who have to bring his works to the stage every evening and put them in place. The hearts of the audience. Why do you have to put something on the story? We are not drawing on Renoir!
The operetta genre is not easy on yourself. This music is difficult to explain.
Operetta is the most comprehensive form of musical theater because it requires all talents. Clear dialogues, everything has to be perfect, we have to be very present, sing, dance and play equally. And: Operetta always had something disreputable about it. This was musical theater cabaret, think of the frog in “Fledermaus.”
Are you planning something in Vienna for Strauss Year 2025?
Yes, but I won't reveal what's next.
What would you say to those people who say you shouldn't play “Gypsy Baron” anymore? On your album there is an excerpt from the song “Zigeunerliebe” by Lehár. When this “Z-word” appears in opera, as in “Carmen,” it is often paraphrased in translations.
You have to see it in the context of your time and culture! This is world literature! Take Prosper Mérimée's “Carmen”: gypsies are not a negative thing here. If you talk to Carmen: This woman comes from Andalusia and makes her own decisions. All of these works mentioned have the right to appear in the original, such as “The Magic Flute”. It's good to have both, and also introduce people to opera and do something good for us, the artists and creators of these pieces. Then you can follow along and interact with these pieces further. But one thing is clear: we need beauty. We need harmony. For me, music is medicine. Making music together is the most beautiful thing you can do. This is what you should try. We must convey this. Sure, times are tough, but music is the universal language, and we work together creatively on “the beautiful, the true and the good,” as can be read at the Frankfurt Alte Oper. You join a global group and work towards one goal: to deliver something to the audience at home and in the hall.
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