Thursday, October 25, 2007

A rather interesting interview...

Dimitra Theodossiou:

A diva is something that you create on-stage

She thinks that maybe it’s time she returned to Greece. She doesn’t care any longer about singing in famous theatres and she believes that in the world of opera there is too much hypocrisy. The world renowned soprano, talks her art and more

When at the age of six Dimitra Theodossiou visited for the first time the Athens Lyric in order to watch a performance of “Il Trovatore” she took the first big decision of her life. When she would grow up she would become a….Leonora! During the following years she proved that this wasn’t just a childish impulse as the soprano managed not only to become a Leonora but also a Violetta, Odabella, Desdemona and many more of the verdian heroines who-together with the belcanto -are the “crown” of her repertoire.

The role of Leonora is the one that brings her back to our country, 2 years after her last appearance here. Dimitra will sing at the premiere of the new festive production of the Athens Lyric as in 2004, the Greek National Opera will celebrate 60 years of life. We met her in situ last week. She had just arrived from Baltimore where she had once more sung the role of Leonora. Friendly, kind and in a very good mood, she didn’t hesitate to admit that her greek is a bit “left behind”.

-Not only you star in the premiere of the new production but from this year on you ‘re a resident member of the Theatre. How come?

-For emotional reasons. Here is where I watched my first operas, here is where I made my first dreams and wherever in the world I ‘ve sung, here is where I feel more emotional and excited. We had a conversation with the artistic manager of the theatre, I decided it and I feel very proud. I have never done it before, you know. Even at the beginning of my career, I never had the thought of joining a theatre as a resident even if in Germany where I live it is most common. But here it is different, here are my roots. So, I will be in a production, maybe two, annually. I ‘ve also been thinking that maybe its about time I came back home…

-Have you ever really thought about coming back? You really believe that an international career is possible while living in Greece?

-At this very moment yes, why not. My name is known in the world of opera, whoever wants can easily find me, my agent is located in Italy and Athens has one of the biggest airports in the world. To tell you the truth, Greece, even with all it’s disadvantages- cannot be compared to any other place in the world. But I also wanna be in constant contact with the Greek audience which I think has evolved impressively during the past few years.

-Since you have mentioned it, do you believe that there are differences among the audiences from country to country.

-Yes I believe it and it’s a factor extremely important for us artists. I personally believe that the audience of Naples is very bad, something that strikes me as till now I thought that the southern they are situated, the “warmer” they are! I proved wrong. These people never applaud. We give our soul and they stay freeze. It’s something that kills me because I really believe that I give my all for the public, I never save powers. If the director tells me to do the acrobat, I will do it if it is for the public’s pleasure. On the other hand the Danish audience is amazing! I go to Copenhagen and people greet me on the street! This doesn’t even happen here where people are also warm. You cannot imagine how important this exchange of energy with the people is for us.

-Talk to me about Leonora. If I am not mistaken, it’s the role with which you made your debut at La Scala a few years ago.

-Indeed. My first contact with maestro Muti was very hard. You know, all this myth that surrounds him makes you loose your words in front of him. And the conditions were quite odd you know. We had not rehearsed at all and the whole arrangement took place just two hours before the performance. It was a big success! Neither I didn’t expect it…But we “broke-up” in bad terms with maestro Muti. And that’s why when I was invited for the performance of I Due Foscari I was surprised.

-And? Was it realized?

-Yes, last June. After the Trovatore I felt a bit underestimated, I was thinking that my contribution was not appreciated. So, I said that if I don’t meet with the maestro and we don’t talk about it, I don’t understand the meaning of a new collaboration. There s no reason to go back where you ‘re underestimated.

-Even if this place is La Scala?

-Yes, why not? I personally don’t care about singing in famous theatres. I want to sing where I get love. This is what I explained to maestro Muti when I finally met him. He said “What do you want after all?” and I answered “I want you to love me for the reason you invited me”. That was it. We now are in excellent terms.

-But you didn’t tell me about Leonora.

-It’s a very difficult role. She is not the key role. The key is Azzuccena. Leonora is there in order to cover the drama needs and to create the jealousy between Manrico and Count di Luna. And then there is Act 4 which is of extreme difficulty for the soprano. “D’amor sull ali rosee” is one of the most difficult arias of the repertoire.

-So the challenge is mainly a vocal one?

-Indeed, and even if she‘s just 16 y.o. she‘s no kid. She‘s got a powerful personality and she lives her affair so deeply and truly that she doesn’t hesitate for an instance to drink the poison in order to save her lover.

-Generally speaking, the challenge for you is mainly a vocal or a stage one?

-I ‘m always concerned about having “covered” my role at first. If I don’t feel at home with the role I cannot act it. And this happens ‘cause I think acting is really important. If sometime we’re indisposed or sick, drama has to work at 150%. Even if you miss a note it’s no big deal. I remember a Madama Butterfly I had watched at the Athens Lyric as a teenager with Marina Krilovici. I was not impressed vocally but on stage she was so spectacular that during the curtain calls it was like an earthquake ‘cause of the applause. I was so impressed by that performance. I then understood that acting is the key to success.

-Tell me about the verdian heroines. If I’m correct, you had an important presence during the festivities of the composer’s Centenary back in 2001

-You‘re right. I don’t know if Verdi loved his sopranos but he “tortures” them a lot. Especially the first period of his creation is extremely demanding. I think that he was not fair with us sopranos, even if I love him so much and his heroines possess a major part of my career.

-Are there any roles that you find special?

-Definitely Violetta who is the favourite of all sopranos. I also adore Odabella (from Attila) and Desdemona (from Otello). A role I love and I haven’t sung yet is the role of Lady Macbeth (*note, Dimitra sang it in Lisboa in May/June 2007) and I also like Giovanna D’Arco. In general I love heroic parts and the mad scenes. I ‘ve sung Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena and I loved them too.

-What about Norma? It is also a role that you sing all over the world.

-Indeed, and I love it. Recently I sang a Norma in St. Petersburg and I will do it again in Verona. This is gonna be my first time as Norma in Italy. There as you may know they don’t stage this opera a lot. There is all this myth with La Callas. I remember six years ago i had an audition and I sang Casta Diva and someone stood up and said: “Mme, who do you think you are? La Callas?”. No, I don’t think so, I adore Callas but history goes on.

-What is you opinion on modern productions?

-I don’t like them. When I get a proposal I always ask who the director is and what his vision for the staging is. If I am to sing Violetta wearing jeans, I can also stay home and go to the super market or do the grocery. This public relation game is not of my interest.

-But is it an important game?

-I believe I ‘m not as famous as I could be exactly because I’ m not a part of all these. There is a lot of hypocrisy in our profession. Gheorghiu for example and many others are all fakes. They get the poor hairdresser to do their hair and they make her life difficult in order to create a diva profile and a legend. But that’s not the way to do things. A diva is something that you create on stage.

This interview was published @ the greek newspaper "TO VIMA" on November the 2nd, 2003 and can be found here

I tried to do my best with the translation...It's a rather hard task though.


ernani said...

Parsi, e3airetikh idea soy ayto to ar8ro. Eyxaristoyme poly!!! Mhpws omws na ebazes to disclaimer gia thn hmeromhnia ths synentey3hs sthn arxh ths? Eilikrina, diabazontas to keimeno katamperdeythka gia to an grafhke to 2004 h prin... 2 bdomades (Alla3a gnwmh 2-3 fores mexri na ftasw sto telos :) )

mahler76 said...

I Gheorghiu einai mia moufa??? haha ehete polla koina me tin Donna Theodossiou.
Edaxi eglipse kai to elliniko koino legodas pos ehei proodeusei arketa klp.
alla edaxi den eipe kati pou den tha perimena i pou mou fanike paraxeno. Pados efharistoume gia ton kopo pou ekanes gia to arthro.