Operathon, Chicago, 18. Oktober 2008
Am 18. Oktober 2008 sendete WFMT eine 16-stündige Sendung über die Produktionen der Lyric Opera. Hier nur ein Teil des mit den Sängern und dem Dirigenten nach der Manon-Aufführung geführten Gesprächs (Natalie Dessay war nicht anwesend).
Audio: Operathon

(Alina war so nett, vielen Dank!)

Presenter: and we have with us the tenor, Des Grieux, Mr Jonas Kaufmann

Jonas Kaufmann: (very upbeat and energetic) Heeeello!

Presenter: I understand you have had a good show tonight!

JK: Yes, I have to say, we are very happy, the audience was very warm and welcomed us, like it should be on a Saturday night ( tongue in cheek ;-)) giggles, laughs...No, no, we had fun! Absolutely!

Presenter: I must say I think this cast is so perfectly balanced, from top to bottom , beautiful conducting in the pit, and the level of French! Emmanuel, you could speak about that, the French is very very high level.

Emmanuel Villaume: yes we worked very very hard on the French and it is not because we know that all people in Chicago speak French fluently (tongue in cheek!), but (presenter adds: I think most of them giggles) ... even if you don't speak the language you understand when it is right and when it's wrong, you know. It gives a flavour that is going to make it sound totally authentic. So we had a French coach for this and I worked on it, I must say everybody was a very good sport about it, because sometimes it is a little bit annoying.

Christopher Feigum: why are you looking at me? We are on the radio? (Giggles and loud laughs from Jonas.)

EV: but it is important, every French in the audience should understand every word of it.

Presenter: Jonas, this is the first time you have sung this role? Isn't it?

JK: Yeah (with emphasis), Eeexactly!

Presenter: You are enjoying it, aren't you?

JK: (with enthusiasm) oh yess!! Absolutely! I have to say, I love most of the French repertory, just because they have such a variety in vocal challenges, let's out it that way, in each part. It is not like, let's say, if you have a Verdi, it is the same type of tenor from the very beginning to the end. But in the French repertoire it always changes, they always demand for at least 2 or 3 different vocal types. And that gives you really a chance to... show off... and try to give all the...

Raymond Aceto: (interrupting) Sooo thaaats what you're doing, you’re showing off!!

JK: (buoyant laughter!) (Everyone giggles) welll, I think that's what we're all paid for, thank God! (More deep laughter!)

Presenter: once Laurence Olivier was asked why he became an actor and he went very close to someone's face and said: look at me, look at me, look at me! (More laughter) I suppose that's what drives all of you here

JK: aha!

CF: that's why singers are so conceited .mimimimimi... (More laughter)

Presenter: This is such a wonderful musical, dramatic production too, I mean the music and the drama is so closely interconnected, that's what I think makes it so powerful. Of course, Mr Kaufmann, you have to do a lot of rolling down the stage in this production, (giggles) which might be kind of fun!

JK: yeah, I mean, it iiiiis, especially with that kind of partner. Natalie Dessay is an absolute dream comes true. She is the perfect match for this 16 year old girl. Well, I am even having fun carrying her around all day long, all evening. (Giggles) That says something! (He giggles)

Presenter: it is remarkable, as we were talking earlier when it all works, there is nothing really quite like it. And it all does work in this production. We have 4 more performances left, so I hope that those of you who haven't seen it will get a ticket. Go online, buy…. (Ticket hotline or whatever)  I wonder for each of you, is there a moment in this opera which is special to you, wonderful, that you feel strong about, particularly? That is inspiring, some moment in this opera that you love particularly? Mr Kaufmann?

JK: ohhh, welll... hm, I think there are several, I mean, there is not only one. There are some, of course, most of us would say it is St Sulpice, this scene 3-2, in the church, when Manon is trying to convince, and actually she does succeed in holding him back from becoming a priest and being locked away from her and other women for the rest of his life. And she does that pretty well, and I have to say, it's, yeah, it comes very natural, (giggles) his decision (he laughs again).

Presenter: how about from the conductor?

EV: There is lot of variety in the piece, and it shifts from one atmosphere, from one mood to the other. But, of course, St Sulpice is amazing. I must say the end of the 2 act, when you know you have two of the best arias of the French repertoire coming up: the petit table with Manon, who is alone and knows she is somehow betraying her lover. And she is saying good bye to that little, small table where they were just very simply being next to each other and there is a moment that is incredibly simple and intense there. And when you arrive there you have that aria and then you have the next aria, which is the dream of Des Grieux. Sung absolutely stunningly by Jonas, who is the person in the world you can now sing that the best! Very simply! And when you know you have those two arias you just get very happy. You can feel the orchestra as well: ahh here is the moment that's coming. ( JK giggles) I love the moment when the daddy comes, also in the gambling scene, and there is a big concertato, a big ensemble, where everybody is singing and it's kind of very grand and passionate. And musically, purely musically this is a nice moment, but this is the kind of piece that is so well written, and so rich that every performance there is a little corner, a little bridge musically that you say: oh, there, here there is an interesting idea, maybe we can develop that and you discover new things that are absolutely stunning. So the piece is strong enough to let you decide to give a little more importance to one moment than another and it can be different according every night depending on the way you feel. But each act builds magnificently till the end.

Presenter: Raymond Aceto, I think I know what your favourite moment is in the opera.

RA: well, when you are done (JK giggles), when you are done! (General laughter) Mon ami... actually it is my favourite, but surprisingly enough it is not a musical moment. My favourite moment is after I sing my aria and Jonas and I have a really dramatic dialogue, in which I basically after trying to convince him in the aria to marry the right girl, do us all proud, like you are supposed to - he say no, I say there is no way you can change your mind, he says no and I write him off, I disown him pretty much. But it is one of my favourites because of the dramatic of it, as singers always musical singing comes first, but this is a moment where it is nothing but dialogue, beautifully underscored, but it is a great acting moment. It just gives us, gives me a chance to do something that is not vocal, not musical. We don't get a lot of those as singers.

Presenter: How about for Lescaut?

CF: I have 2: my act 2, ironically, I love the piece in act 2. I think the way it was composed lends itself to, it grabs you attention, from the very beginning when the baton goes down, to the end and it pulls you through and I love act 2 for that. And I love act 4 for the same reason. It grabs your attention right at the beginning and pulls you through to the very very end. He was a mad master in composing this way, as many of the greats were. But in this piece in particular, those 2 are my favourite moments.

Presenter: How about Bretigny?

Jake Gardner: I think mine is when Natalie sings the Gavotte and, as it is staged in this production, she directs it all towards me and I am having a very proud moment as Bretigny (JK giggles) and I really enjoy connecting with her during that moment.

EV: I actually tonight I did one thing, which is what sometimes you do. When the audience applauds, sometimes as a conductor you applaud also (JK: mhmm) a singer on stage. I was applauding in the direction of Natalie and she was looking the other direction, not towards the audience. And you were there and you took the applause for you, so (everyone is laughing). It was as if you had done it all!

JK: he diiid, he diiidd!

EV: he did!  (JK is laughing)

Presenter: sometimes people react to what is going on on stage and the reaction means as much as the action and the singing. And when you get a performance like this when everybody is so committed to the theatrical elements of it, and everybody on stage... this is a production so beautifully directed that everybody, the chorus, the ballet, the actors...there is a sense of everybody being in the moment at all times, and this is what makes it such a thrilling, dramatic as well as musical experience.

RA: you are right; there is an improvisation, every performance, within certain boundaries.

JK: I mean that is how it should be, actually. That is really the dream come true of having the basics, let's say the fundamental blocks, everybody knows where he enters and where he exists and the rest is play. Everyone tries to slip into his character and the rest is something that naturally develops while we are on stage.

Presenter: or sometimes it happens because something goes amiss. Now the other night, at the end of the St Sulpice scene, Natalie is supposed to run...

JK: ohhh, yeah...

Presenter: and she stopped...

JK: veeery, veeeery funny! (He giggles)

Presenter:  and she couldn't, because...

JK: her heel got stuck in something, I don't know, under her skirts, and she was kneeling on the floor and instead of blocking me from going away, I realised: she's not following me! What's going on? So I turn around and I see her eyes almost popping out ( giggles) : pleeease help mee!( He laughs) So I really said ( continues laughing) that was really mercy that time, that held me back and not something else. (Laughs)

JG: Actually watching I thought, OMG! She's broken her leg or something! She can't get up (JK still laughing). So I rushed back stage and was very happy to find out it was only the heel and the skirt.

JK: yeah! (Amused, with a smile in his voice) We got nailed in that spot until the curtain came down (buoyant laughter).

Presenter: That's what makes it so exciting!

JK: Eeexactly!

Presenter: when you can take that moment and turn it into something that still works dramatically. And I think everyone in this cast is capable of doing that and that is what makes it exciting to watch. Briefly what's next for each of you?

JK: After this I am going directly to Paris, I'm going to do in Garnier Opera there a new production of Fidelio and Florestan. So this is pretty much the next 2 months, apart from having many concerts and recitals and things like that (giggles) squeezed in between. (He laughs)

EV: I have a Carmen in Los Angeles, with a very good Escamillo (everybody is laughing)

RA: and I also have a Carmen in LA with an amaaazing conductor... (Everyone laughing)  

Thanks from the presenter for being there and the magnificent performances of Manon and THE END!


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