• Opera Lively Exclusive Interview with Anna Caterina Antonacci

    Opera Lively's envoy Luiz Gazzola travelled to London to attend the Royal Opera House / David McVicar / Antonio Pappano new production of Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens, together with two other staff members, sospiro and Soave_Fanciulla. After the opera we had the pleasure of meeting in person backstage outstanding soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, one of our favorite artists. Her performance in the show was her usual extremely compelling work, given that she is not only a gifted singer, but also a spectacular actress who is able to portray dramatic roles to perfection. A few days later she granted us the exclusive interview that follows [click on Read More than scroll down for the complete interview]. Mary Auer, another Opera Lively journalist, also contributed with questions]. [Opera Lively interview # 41]

    © Opera Lively - Disclaimer: this exclusive interview is copyrighted by Opera Lively with all rights reserved, and is not to be reproduced without express authorization. Brief excerpts can be used after consultation (use the Contact Us form) as long as proper credit and a link to the full interview on Opera Lively are provided. Links to the interview can be posted without authorization.



    All pictures are being used with authorization and were kindly provided by the Royal Opera House Press Office, and are to be credited as follows: © ROH 2012 / Bill Cooper for all production pictures, except for Ms. Antonacci's head shot, also provided by the ROH, but credited to Pietro Spagnoli, 2011.

    Singer -
    Anna Caterina Antonacci
    Born in - Ferrara, Italy, in 1961
    Fach - Dramatic Soprano whose dark voice makes her also able to sing mezzo-soprano repertory
    Currently in - Les Troyens, Royal Opera House, in the role of Cassandre
    Next in - Carmen at Opéra Bastille and La Voix Humaine at Opéra-Comique, both in Paris

    Anna Caterina Antonacci is a major artist, and her extraordinary vocal timbre and great acting skills have enabled her to perform a vast and varied repertoire in the world’s most important theaters.

    She has scored notable personal success as Cassandre in Les Troyens with Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the Théâtre du Châtelet, a production that achieved enormous impact and wide-spread critical acclaim, and was released on DVD and blu-ray disc. Also notable were her L'Incoronazione di Poppea at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, and her performances of the title role in Medea in Toulouse at the Epidaurus Amphitheatre, at the Teatro Regio in Turin (released on DVD), and at the Châtelet. Anna Caterina was in a new production of Carmen at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Sir Antonio Pappano which generated another acclaimed DVD alongside Jonas Kaufmann, and she performed the same role at the Opéra-Comique conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

    She has also recently sung La Mort de Cléopatre in Rotterdam and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, both performances conducted by Yannick Nézét-Seguin, and in Hong Kong conducted by John Nelson.

    Her American work has included a recent recital at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, and Ermione in San Francisco.

    Anna Caterina has been awarded the 'Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur' by the French Republic, which is the highest national distinction one can receive.

    She now records for the Naïve label and her album Era la Notte was very well received.

    She lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her 11-year-old son.

    Discography

    Anna Caterina is very well represented on video media with seven complete operas on DVD (and one more coming in 2013), which is great because of her exquisite acting skills. She has also been recorded for one complete opera on CD, and one album.

    To buy her CDs and DVDs from Amazon.com, click [here]; or [here] for Amazon.co.uk.



    Her beautiful album Era la Notte can be downloaded as mp3 from Amazon.co.uk, [here]

    Almaviva can personally vouch for the first five of the DVDs listed below, which are part of his personal collection and are all five extraordinary (the other two are likely to be great as well), and of course the current ROH Les Troyens was sublime and will be an obligatory buy once released.

    DVD - Carmen, title role - Royal Opera House, with Pappano, Kaufmann, Zambello - Decca 2008
    DVD and blu-ray - Les Troyens, Cassandre/Clio - Châtelet, with Gardiner, Kunde, Graham - Opus Arte 2004
    DVD - Medea, title role - Teatro Regio Torino, with Parodi, Farto, Mingardo, Filianoti - Hardy 2009
    DVD - Rodelinda, title role - Glyndebourne, with Christie, Sreit, Chiummo, Winter, Scholl - Kultur 2005
    DVD - Ermione, title role - Glyndebourne, with Montargue, Forbe, Lopez-Yanez, Kelly - Kultur 2005
    DVD - Maria Stuarda, Elisabetta - La Scala, with Meli, Devia - ArtHaus 2009
    DVD - Don Giovanni, Donna Elvira - Wiener Staatsoper, with Muti, Pieczonka, Kirchschlager, Schade, Alvarez, d'Arcangelo - TDK 2005
    CD Album - Era la Notte - music by Monteverdi, Strozzi, Giramo, Sardelli - Naïve 2006
    CD - L'Incoronazione di Poppea, title role - Bayerische Staatsoper, with Bolton, Daniels, Moll - Farao 2008

    Coming soon in 2013, this current performance of Cassandre in Les Troyens with the ROH, Pappano, Hymel, and Westbroek will be released on DVD - and it will be in the cinemas worldwide in November of 2012.

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    Opera Lively Exclusive Interview with Anna Caterina Antonacci

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    OL - Let’s start by talking about the production we’ve just seen of Les Troyens. We loved it, and we also loved the one you did in Paris with Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Would you compare and contrast the two productions for us? Does it make a big difference due to the fact that Sir John Eliot Gardiner uses period instruments? After all, Berlioz is second half of the 19th century, not so ancient as Baroque, so, maybe the period instruments won't make that much of a difference. But still, it's a large orchestra and the period instruments are less loud. Anyway, other than the period instruments, what else would you say to compare and contrast the two productions?

    ACA - First of all, nine years ago with John Eliot was the first time for me and I felt it as a big discovery of this masterpiece. It meant a lot to me because it was a huge success, and I didn't really expect it. It was a big response from the public. Really, I felt a great emotion about that. Everything was new to me. I did know Berlioz before, but just by seeing La Damnation de Faust in the theater, and the song cycle Les Nuits d'Été, this was all that I knew about Berlioz.

    To compare the two productions, the one at the Châtelet was much more classic, maybe. That one was light, while this one at Covent Garden is very dark and much more dramatic. In consequence the characters also felt more dramatic to me this time, I felt an evolution of these characters to me. I was nine years younger. (laughs). You can see things differently when you grow older.



    OL - Do you think you can do it better, now?

    ACA - It's just different, you know?

    OL - What about the period instruments?

    ACA - They sound differently, of course. But I don't think the volume was any less, because anyway the orchestra was huge! I remember that I had a sense of being overwhelmed - positively - by the sound. It was a huge sound, very involving and beautiful. The period instruments were very interesting. I can't really say if I prefer this piece played on period or modern instruments. I think it's a good idea to let people hear what was the sound at Berlioz's period, but of course it is also worth listening to the modern instruments because we are different ourselves now, and it is good to listen to both styles.

    OL - Tell us about the psychology of Cassandre. In the first act she appears to be begging and distressed at the rejection she receives from her fellow citizens. In the second act, she seems regal, she grows taller, becomes imposing as a strong leader. How do you read your character, and are there particular challenges in this striking change in dramatic posture? Do you feel the emotion there, or are you so focused on doing your job that you don't let this kind of thing influence you?



    ACA - In the first act she is considered to be a crazy person, a freak. She knows that she could save everybody if people would just listen to her, so of course there is a very, very strong sense of frustration. Being seen as a fool and a freak generates enormous frustration for her. In the second act everything is done, everything is over, so she can adjust and make the other women follow her example of heroism and sacrifice. That's what gives her all this growth of an imposing attitude.

    It's a natural evolution of the character. I find this role to be marvelously written. To me it is quite a perfect role; the text and the music demand this perfection. It is so challenging and interesting! It's a role in which we can veritably grow and develop, following the character's evolution. There are even my own personal aspects in this role although when I'm playing it I don't even notice this part. For me, I feel it as I'm diving into true emotion when I play this role. It's not just playing the role as a detached professional; there is a bit that comes from *me.*



    OL - What about the moment when the horse comes at you, was it personally terrifying?

    ACA - Yes, I think it was a fantastic idea from David [McVicar] to make this monster! This horse is really a monster, it is not human, and it will destroy the civilization of Troy and all its people. Everything disappears. The horse means death and complete annihilation of Troy's entire past and culture. It's a real genocide!

    OL - Hm, hm. You know, Les Troyens is my third preferred opera of all time.

    ACA - Oh really? Only third? (she laughs - I assume by this that Anna Caterina means that this *is* her most preferred opera although she didn't explicitly say it). Which ones are the first two?

    OL - The Ring taken as one, and Tristan und Isolde.

    ACA - Ah, Wagner.

    OL - I wrote an extensive series on Les Troyens for Opera Lively; I can send you the link. [click here for Opera Lively's In-Depth series of nine articles on Les Troyens]

    ACA - Hm, hm. Please do.

    OL - From the standpoint of a singer, what are some of the hurdles when singing Cassandre? It’s a role for a dramatic soprano according to the score; often sung by mezzo-sopranos, with tessitura generally F4 to F5. Range somewhere in the realm of C#/Db4 to G#/Ab5. Is it difficult to sing?

    ACA - Yes, you can say that. It's a dramatic soprano role, but most of it is written for the low part of the voice. The most difficult thing - and also the most interesting thing for me - is that you absolutely have to make the words understandable. You must throw them out very clearly, in dramatic phrasing. Especially the last part with the Trojan women is very low, but the text is of capital importance so you really need to pronounce it very clearly. This is vocally tiring. The temptation is to chest everything, which of course is not good, so you have to control the register and really speak the text like an actress, because the phrases are so important.

    OL - Other than yourself - you are my favorite Cassandre – no artificial flattery intended, it’s really the truth, I'm not saying it just because I'm speaking to you; you really are my favorite singer in this role...

    ACA - Thank you very much! (laughs)

    OL - ... what other great interpreters of this role have inspired you? Jessye Norman? Shirley Verrett? Someone else?

    ACA - Jessye Norman and Shirley Verrett were always singers that I admired and loved a lot. Jessye Norman was in the audience last time, and I had dinner with her; it was a big emotion to see her there listening to me. Both Eva-Maria [Westbroek] and I were very impressed with her presence there.

    But the biggest inspiration for me was Régine Crespin, when I listened to her recording of Cassandre, even though she preferred to sing Didon. I had the privilege of getting to know her personally in the last two years of her life. She always said to me that she preferred Didon because she was more feminine and she felt more in tune with the role. But anyway she did Cassandre once. I admired a lot the simplicity of her intentions and the purity of her voice.

    OL - In Paris you came back as Clio at the very end.

    ACA - Yes, true.

    OL - Why wasn't it done this time at the Royal Opera House? Did you hear anything about this from Maestro Pappano?

    ACA - John Eliot had the idea of including this line in Paris. I don't really know what version Antonio Pappano chose to perform. It was a really good idea to have Clio there, at the end of the Châtelet version. I had to stay until the end anyway to do the ghost (laughs). Clio, saying that Troy was over and now was the time for Rome, was a good image that evoked Cassandre's prophecies and the cries of "Italy, Italy."

    OL - As an Italian-American myself, I loved this line pointing to the birth of the Italian nation.

    ACA - Yes! Yes!

    OL - The line was actually included by Berlioz himself, in one of his versions. I was a bit disappointed that Maestro Pappano did not include it.

    ACA - OK. I don't think it is usually done. I had never seen that, before or after John Eliot's version.

    OL - Let's move on from Les Troyens and address other topics. Not only you are currently singing Cassandre with the Royal Opera, but you are very well known for your portrayal of Carmen – both roles in the French repertoire. Many people might expect an Italian singer to focus primarily on works by Italian composers, but at least half of the opera roles you sing are by French composers. During your recent American concert tour, the first part of your program included songs by Fauré; you’ve also sung Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été and La Mort de Cléopâtre. Next season, you’ll sing Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. What aspects of the French music particularly appeal to you?

    ACA - It was an evolution of my taste and my sensitivity, I think. Now I feel very happy in the French repertoire. I'm doing it a lot, Fauré, Débussy... The first part of my career I did a lot of Italian repertoire. I think the switch happened nine years ago with that Troyens, because it was such an event for me, not only for my career but also for my life. It changed a lot for me, and then I lived in Paris for eight years, so I really started learning French properly, and I met many people there who helped me and inspired me - André Tubeuf, for example, a writer who is a big friend of mine and taught me many things about the language and the culture. It was a big change, but only in the positive sense!

    OL - The roles you have sung during your career have encompassed those from the Baroque era all the way through the 20th century, and in both the Italian and French repertoires. But aside from a recording of Heinrich Marschner’s Hans Heiling, you haven’t sung any roles in the German language. Richard Strauss, for example, wrote some wonderful roles for lyric mezzos that are sometimes sung by sopranos – Octavian and the Composer in Ariadne of Naxos, to name a couple. Did you ever want to sing any roles in the German repertoire, or did you feel that the music wasn’t right for your voice?

    ACA - The issue of German first of all is that I don't know German. For me it's really unthinkable to sing German operas because I can not properly interpret them. I don't know the language. I'm preparing the Wesendonck Lieder by Wagner for concert, but not opera by him. I don't think I would. Next life, maybe (laughs hard).

    OL - I would like to congratulate you on recently being named Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur by the government of France. To receive the highest award the French government presents to civilians is a wonderful recognition of your talent and the contributions you have made to the vocal arts on the international level. Has the Italian government acted in a similar way?

    ACA - It was a big honor, of course; a big joy, to get this distinction. The Italian Government? No, they won't give me this honor.

    OL - Why is that?

    ACA - They don't consider me as deserving it. (laughs hard)

    OL - So you aren't a prophet in your own land?

    ACA - Yes, exactly. I think it happens to many people. I'm not disappointed or saddened by it. I'm perfectly happy with my title of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur! (laughs)

    OL - Tell us about the crisis in operatic funding in Italy – how can it be reversed, and what do the companies need to do to survive? Is opera losing popularity in Italy? We’ve recently talked to a singer who seems to think so.

    ACA - Yes, things certainly have changed. Until the mid-nineties, productions in Italy were absolutely up to date, and had the same level of quality of the rest of Europe, but then they started to stagnate and stay back and never recovered. Of course the crisis is economic, they have much less money than before, and they didn't use the money they had in the right way; that's the source of the problem. The public is disappearing. The taste of the public is changing, and all that tradition we had year after year is gone; it's a big problem. It's the problem of a deteriorating culture, in Italy.

    I don't have any suggestions to correct that. To recover the public, they'd need years and years of work. The task in this moment is very hard. There are still theaters that do beautiful things, sometimes. But it is true that generally speaking, culture is a bit forgotten there. It's true.

    OL - It's kind of sad, since opera was born in Italy.

    ACA - Yes, it's sad.

    OL - Like you said there are still good things... the Rossini Festival...

    ACA - Yes, the Rossini Festival is an old tradition and is wonderful.

    OL - There'll be the Verdi celebrations next year.

    ACA - Yes... but I feel that Italy is isolated now, in terms of culture.

    OL - When you go back to Italy, do people recognize you on the streets?

    ACA - No. But also not in Paris or here in London. (laughs) Very few opera singers are recognized on the streets, I think. Not me. Not me. (laughs).

    OL - Well, you should. You deserve it.

    ACA - (laughs) Thank you.

    OL - Cassandre and Carmen are both roles which are typically sung by a mezzo-soprano – and you actually began your career as a mezzo. Ten years ago, you decided to change from the mezzo to the soprano repertoire. Do you think you’ve really always been a soprano, even when you were singing as a mezzo?

    ACA - Yes, true, ten years ago I decided to take on soprano roles. Elektra in Idomeneo, Medea by Cherubini... But it continues to be a repertoire in-between the mezzo and soprano roles. But it's OK like this. My voice, it is true that the color is a soprano color, but I can do certain mezzo roles like Carmen or Charlotte or Cassandre. I stay in the roles that I can sing, but also in those that interest me, evidently. It's true that I wouldn't ever try to do a Traviata... (laughs). But I love a lot the repertoire that I sing, it means a lot to me.

    OL - So you very much make repertoire decisions based on what is significant for you?

    ACA - Yes, of course, if I can sing the role without damaging my voice or suffering major problems. I've never done anything that I couldn't afford.

    OL - When you decided to make the change to the soprano Fach, did you work with a coach? Or was focusing and strengthening your voice’s top extension something you did by yourself?

    ACA - No, I've always worked with a voice teacher, but not really in order to change my Fach; just in order to get better, technically. The aim wasn't to start singing Leonora in Il Trovatore, but rather to sing better, generally.

    OL - I think you are one of the most gifted actresses in opera, today. Your dramatic acting is exquisite. Did you have some major background in acting?

    ACA - No, no. I started acting purely as a singer. I developed it. I keep thinking about the differences between acting in spoken theater and acting while singing opera. Somehow, the acting in opera seems deeper to me, more physically deeper than acting while speaking. I don't know if I would be able to be an actress if it didn't involve singing. To me the music is the leading force, it's what leads the work. It's a very special way of acting. But I learned to act on stage, as a singer.

    OL - You once mentioned Verdi’s Lady Macbeth and Bellini’s Norma as two roles that you might want to sing at some point. Do they still appeal to you? And if yes, why?

    ACA - Yeah, for a moment I dreamed of singing Lady Macbeth and Norma, but then I realized that it was just a dream (laughs), and I couldn't do it. Unfortunately. Or maybe fortunately; I accept my limitations, what my voice is, and it's good like this.

    OL - I assume that there is a difference between Anna Caterina the opera lover who loves those pieces, and Anna Caterina the opera singer who needs to make do with the instrument that she was given.

    ACA - Absolutely. But these ideas taught me a lot, because facing your limitations is good for your understanding of many things.

    OL - I believe that one of the most neglected operas in the repertory is Ermione, which I consider to be an absolute masterpiece. I got to encounter it for the first time through your DVD of it. Can you tell us more about your experience singing Ermione, and about that particular production?

    ACA - Ah, Ermione... I also consider it an absolute masterpiece. I used to do it very often in the nineties. I did it in London, in Rome, in San Francisco, and in Glyndebourne which is the one preserved on DVD.

    OL - The one with the dark clothes.

    ACA - Yes, it was a very dramatic production, very black and dark, with the update to the 19th century. It was a very good production. We rehearsed for two months, because in Glyndebourne it is always like this, they do strong work to get the intended results. They are very demanding and very nice. But after that, nobody asked me to do it anymore. (laughs). Unfortunately, because I'd love to do it again, but vocally it is very, very demanding. I don't know if I could sing it today. Ermione is also a fantastic character, so complex! The woman is always changing; she says something and does the opposite. But the public loves her, although she is a bit negative; she is bilious, she is mean, but the public gets to have a deep understanding of her pain and her sorrow. It's maybe the most modern opera by Rossini.

    OL - Right. It's my favorite opera seria by Rossini; I like it more than Guillaume Tell. Maometto II is good too, but I still prefer Ermione.

    ACA - Yes, Guillaume Tell is more traditional but Ermione really went towards the future. Rossini himself said that he wrote it for the future generations, not for the people of his time, because there aren't really arias, there are long scenes, the form and the structure were not the ones traditionally used up to that point.

    OL - What’s wrong with the Metropolitan Opera House that they haven’t asked you to sing there? I believe you’re the most striking current example of a singer of the very first rank and extremely recognized in Europe, but one who is, in spite of enormous vocal and acting talent, still neglected by the Met. Why? I know you can’t respond for the Met, but it is a striking situation and we’d like to hear your take on it.

    ACA - Ah, the Metropolitan... I really would love to sing Cassandre for the Metropolitan, I really hope I can make it before closing my career... (laughs). Yes, the Metropolitan kept changing their propositions to me, and then nothing came out of it.

    OL - So they did ask you to sing there at some point?

    ACA - Yes, we spoke about doing some Mozart but then they couldn't do it. I'm happy with the concert I just did at the Avery Fisher Hall, it was a good success with very good reviews. I was thrilled to sing for that New York public, and I really hope I'll be able to do Cassandre there at least once; who knows, maybe. (laughs)

    OL - Why do you think they did not ask you for other roles?

    ACA - I am not the traditional kind of singer that gets very well known, I've always done a special kind of repertoire, I've always done things on my own, not the traditional career... But let's not speak of it. (laughs)

    OL - Why did you pick this unusual career path?

    ACA - I didn't really pick it. It was my destiny, I suppose. No, destiny is too strong a word. The choice of repertoire in my life has very often been some sort of happenstance. I was asked to do Cassandre in Paris and I did it, and that changed so many things for me... we singers are not always very involved in these decisions.

    OL - You’ve indicated that you will continue performing for the next 6-7 years, and then retire. Many famous singers have followed their performing careers by teaching or coaching. Is this something in which you would have any interest? Or would you do something totally different after retirement?

    ACA - That is true. Teaching is not my strong side; I wouldn't teach, no. Sometimes I like to coach, not really the technique, but rather the interpretation. But I'd like to do things outside of the theater, I don't want my whole life involved in this. I like agriculture. I like olive trees. After my retirement I'll do this kind of thing, outside of the theatrical environment. I also have a son who is 11 and is soon to be 12 years old, and I have to look after him, which of course I've been doing already. Having a son makes you consider all the theatrical stuff as part of your life but not the whole of your life.



    OL - Are you happy with being an opera singer? Apparently you knew already when you were a young girl that you wanted to be an opera singer – you were inspired by hearing Sutherland and Pavarotti singing the duet from Lucia di Lammermoor.

    ACA - No, no, I've always wanted it. It was my strongest passion and I really wanted it with all my will. Even when I was seventeen or eighteen I thought that I would be a singer - a big singer! (laughs). I don't don't know why I had this youthful optimism, but I really wanted to follow my passion and my will.

    OL - But are you feeling tired now of all the hardship?

    ACA - Traveling is always tiring to me. I hate traveling, but still, I do travel. It's a wonderful work because it's never the same routine; every night it's a new challenge. This passion for opera has never changed for me; when I was twenty, or in my thirties, or now that I'm in my fifties, it's been absolutely the same.

    OL - You are a mother. Does your son share your love for opera? How have you encouraged his interest for music?

    ACA - My son and music? He can stand opera (laughs) but it is not his passion. But I think he is starting to love the theater, generally. I bring him to musicals and to stage plays, to the spoken theater. But he's a normal boy, without a special passion for opera. He's into pop music.

    OL - Does he watch your performances?

    ACA - Oh yes, absolutely. He's seen many Carmens in his life, also Les Troyens he watched from the wings and he liked it. I think he likes more to be in the wings and speak with people. He is a very social person. He doesn't like to be seated for four hours but he likes to speak to the other singers, to the crew, to look at the costumes; he's very curious.

    OL - Besides opera, what do you care for?

    ACA - Of course my son, a lot. I have many friends, many many friends. I like reading, I like stage plays, not musical theater. I like cinema, and I like trees. Trees are my most recent passion, and it's a strong passion now.

    OL - What kind of cinema is your preferred?

    ACA - Of course I love the classic Italian and French movies, English and American as well, of course, but I try to be updated to the new Italian and French directors. I'm very inspired by movies for the roles I play in opera.

    OL - Anything else you want to tell us?

    ACA - Just that I'm sorry for my English.

    OL - Oh, it's fine, and I got it all with this mix of languages we've employed [Ms. Antonacci said some of her answers in French and inserted the odd Italian word].

    ACA - What about you, what's your background? [I explain to Ms. Antonacci my background; she asks a few more questions in a friendly manner]

    OL - Thank you for the interview!

    ACA - No, thank *you,* I'm happy that we were able to make it!

    OL - It was a big honor for me; you are one of my very favorite opera artists ever!

    ACA - It's very kind of you.

    OL - You still have one performance tomorrow, right?

    ACA - Actually, today.



    OL - Oh, and you're granting us an interview today, the same day of your performance? Most artists like to rest the voice and don't want to give interviews the day of a performance.

    ACA - (laughs)

    OL - They feel they're using up their voices. Do you have this kind of concern?

    ACA - Oh, it depends. If I don't feel good, yes; but if I feel good, no, I don't mind.

    OL - So you don't go through all those rituals that some singers have the day of a performance?

    ACA - No, you have to eat and drink very lightly when you have a performance - you can not drink alcohol or have a big hamburger (laughs). But yes, it's a quite athletic way of life.

    OL - We've interviewed your colleague Bryan Hymel as well.

    ACA - He is really, really good!

    OL - Oh, one more thing. What about your upcoming Poulenc, La Voix Humaine?

    ACA - It's a very hard role. I'm having a hard time learning it. It's very dramatic.

    OL - I'm sure you'll do well; with your acting skills, that monologue seems to be a good fit for you. I like it. Have a nice day. Ciao.

    ACA - All the best. Ciao.

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    Here we can hear a sample of this gifted artist's voice, singing Cassandre at Le Châtelet with Sir John Eliot Gardiner:





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    Comments 14 Comments
    1. sospiro's Avatar
      sospiro -
      What an interesting and intelligent woman. Wonderful interview!
    1. Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
      Soave_Fanciulla -
      Oh great interview Alma. I really love this woman, intelligent and down to earth. And as you say, the best Cassandre ever. She should get more recognition.
    1. Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
      Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) -
      Well, she's got plenty of recognition in Europe. Being a knight of the Légion d'Honneur is no small potatoes (it's the French equivalent of being a Sir like they have those knighted conductors), and her performances in all the major opera houses are always received with great reviews and sell out; also, her presence on DVD is impressive. I do feel that the Americans barely know her. And yes, she is just spectacular, isn't she? I'm still up in the clouds, a bit star-struck, for having interviewed one of my very, very favorite singers. The memoir picture we took together will find its way right next to the one I took with Anna Netrebko, as one of my two most cherished possessions in my "opera shrine."
    1. Aksel's Avatar
      Aksel -
      I LOVE this woman! Really, really good interview, Alma.

      And although an ACA Lady Macbeth probably would have been one of the most thrilling things in just about ever, I am very pleased that she is so aware of her vocal limitations that she won't sing it, lest it damage her voice. Truly a remarkable singer, this one.
    1. Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
      Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) -
      It's interesting to see that she seems to be abandoning her Italian identity in favor of a French identity. One aspect of it is that although I told her that I understand both Italian and French, when she was struggling with English she'd switch to French, not Italian. And she referred to the Italian crisis and troubled opera houses as "they" not "we." But backstage when I met her in person, she was distressed with the fact that the Italian national football team was losing the Euro 2012 final 0-2 to Spain at the time (final score later that night was 0-4) so I guess her Italian identify is not lost.
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      Well, you never know. As the French national football team has already lost to Spain in the Euro (2-0), perhaps she was still hurt about that one....
    1. Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
      Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) -
      Hm... I've just re-read ACA's interview for Opera News Magazine in the June 2011 issue, and hey, ours is better!
      I love her cover picture there, though.

      The one detail she started to tell us but explained better there, is that she actually owns an olive tree field and presses olive oil.
      Another interesting point is that she's been passionate about the story of Troy since she was a child. She added a good insight there: that Cassandre's capacity to foresee the future is like an illness for her.
    1. Aksel's Avatar
      Aksel -
      That cover photo looks almost laughably green-screened.
    1. MAuer's Avatar
      MAuer -
      As I understand it, the Met offered her the role of Donna Elvira -- then changed their minds and decided they wanted Gheorghiu instead. When they tried to pacify Anna Caterina by offering her something else, she essentially told them "thanks, but no thanks." I admire her for not putting up with the shabby treatment. And it's been the Met's loss, not hers.
    1. Aksel's Avatar
      Aksel -
      Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
      As I understand it, the Met offered her the role of Donna Elvira -- then changed their minds and decided they wanted Gheorghiu instead. When they tried to pacify Anna Caterina by offering her something else, she essentially told them "thanks, but no thanks." I admire her for not putting up with the shabby treatment. And it's been the Met's loss, not hers.
      Excuse me, but WHAT? How on earth could they pick Draculette over ACA for a role like Donna Elvira? Sure, the woman is completely batshit in everyday life, but generally not on stage.
    1. Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
      Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) -
      What do you mean by this, Aksel? Who are you talking about? I hope it's Draculette, not ACA.
      "Sure, the woman is completely batshit in everyday life, but generally not on stage."
      Well, if it's Draculette, then, the problem is, one can't know if she'll *be* on stage.
      If it's ACA (can't be), the woman is very solid and well anchored.
    1. Aksel's Avatar
      Aksel -
      Yes, I was talking about Draculette. ACA seems like a perfectly wonderful woman, although her characters have a tendency of being rather on the wrong side of crazy. I just can't imagine Draculette singing a role as dramatic as Donna Elvira. Nor Mozart at all, really, but that's another story.
    1. Dark_Angel's Avatar
      Dark_Angel -
      I was instantly drawn to AC Antonacci because of her bold dramatic stage presence, defiant full of spirit and passion, the desire to fully express her character is never in question

      We deperately need her at the MET and would love to hear more Italian Bel Canto work from her, the Maria Stuarda DVD performance is so great
    1. jflatter's Avatar
      jflatter -
      Great interview with a supremely talented artist. Her performance at Les Troyens will be one that will never be forgotten.


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