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Interview with Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka — Bayreuth’s sensational new Senta

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LL: Was it difficult for you to adjust yourself to a different leading man, Samuel Youn, given such short notice?

AP: Samuel was simply incredible and I am full of admiration for him — he sang the dress rehearsal with just a few hours’ notice and was so calm and professional. We then had just one day of rehearsals with him until the premiere. I would have been a nervous wreck myself! But he was so poised and positive. It was a huge break for him and he has a gorgeous voice. I was thrilled for his success.

LL: Who’s the next Wagner heroine you plan (or dream) to play in Bayreuth or elsewhere?

AP: Good question — the jury is out on this one. I do not want to sing any of the Brünnhildes so the only other new role I could do would be Isolde. I do not have an engagement yet for this role but let’s say it could be a possibility.

LL: Do you at all strive to achieve a balanced diet of German and Italian lyric dramatic roles?

AP: Yes, I am striving for this ‘balanced diet’ but it’s not easy. Decades ago, singers could more easily shift from German to Italian roles and audiences accepted and admired this ability. I find today there is almost a skepticism regarding singers moving from one genre to the next. Don’t get me wrong: I adore Wagner and Strauss and feel that, if I had to choose, this repertoire probably fits my voice the best; but I also love Verdi and Puccini, and I feel I have something to offer these heroines as well.

Mine may be a slightly different vocal approach than, say, a pure Verdian, but I hope to continue to sing these Italian roles until the end of my career. Verdi demands that the voice be perfectly aligned from top to bottom. One needs to be able to float those piani notes and use mezza di voce and in this way it is very healthy vocally for me to keep sing this repertoire.

Credits: Enrico Nawrath, Jörg Schulze

Credits: Enrico Nawrath, Jörg Schulze

LL: Both you and your fans are looking forward to your first Aida at the MET in 2014. The Sonja Frisell production is one of the few remaining “grand style” spectacles at the MET. It’s sad that the management has already scrapped quite a few time-honoured sets such as Otto Schenk’s Ring, Zeffirelli’s Tosca and La Traviata. And the next casualties will include Schenk’s Rigoletto and Parsifal. I for one would certainly want to see you looking like an Ethiopian slave in Egypt rather than a modern-day cleaning woman in some drab, nondescript landscape. Tell us about some of the most atrocious (or baffling) productions that you’ve had the misfortune to participate in.

AP: I agree with you. I like the more traditional productions as long as they are vibrant and include good direction between protagonists,. I have sung Otto Schenk’s Der Rosenkavalier in Munich and Vienna. For me, it’s the way Rosenkavalier should be staged, the epitome of perfection. The set, costumes etc. just naturally fit Strauss’ music in every way. Strangely (or luckily), I have not done that many “out there” modern productions. I suppose the Holländer in Bayreuth could be considered a bit controversial, but I had no problems with the concept or staging. I can remember a La Bohème I did years ago in Stuttgart. I was singing Mimì, but Mimì and Rodolfo had practically no physical contact. I had white ghostly make-up with black mascara smudges under my eyes. I looked like a Zombie! I love La Bohème but I felt this staging did little to enhance the story. I am not a fan of a director who wants to go against the story or concept just to “shake things up” or be provocative, or “different”.



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