• The Exclusive Opera Lively Interview with Julie Fuchs

    This interview is part of our Central Europe coverage trip in the summer of 2018, when we visited four countries, seven cities, and eight opera companies where we attended sixteen performances in as many days and interviewed twenty artists. We gathered this material in a portal with links to all articles and interviews. Click [here] to consult the portal.


    Meeting in person the charming and intelligent French soprano Julie Fuchs was a pleasure. Even more impressive was attending her phenomenal rendition of the title role in Calixto Bieito's new production of L'incoronazione di Poppea for Opernhaus Zürich. As our readers can see by consulting our review [clicking (here)] (numerous production pictures are included), we granted to this gifted singer a score of A+++, which is above our usual maximum of A++, and issued this enthusiastic comment:

    "I have her CD "Yes!" (highly recommended, by the way), and I've seen her on DVD and some video clips, and already enjoyed her voice very much, but the experience of listening to her about 9 yards from my seat was out of this world. I have already mentioned that she is very pretty and very sexy... and then, her voice is agile, pitch-perfect, also very well projected, technically accomplished, and oh so beautiful! It doesn't get any better than that."

    Julie Fuchs began her musical and theatrical training in her native Avignon. She then went on to attend the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, where she received first prize with honors in singing. Julie has twice been a prize winner in the ‘Victoires de la musique’ competition (awarded by the French Government for outstanding contribution to the music industry), firstly in 2012 for Best Opera Newcomer, and in 2014, Opera Singer of the Year. She was also awarded 2nd prize at the 2013 Operalia in Verona.

    Her discography among others includes a recording of early songs by Mahler and Debussy with Alphonse Cemin, and a disc of Songs for Piano and Voice by Poulenc (Atma Classique). She is featured in a delightful DVD / blu-ray disc in Ciboulette (FRA Musica - Opéra Comique). In 2014 Julie signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, with her first solo album ‘Yes !’ released in 2015.

    Some of her notable appearances have included operatic roles and concerts in these prestigious houses, among others:

    - Opernhaus Zürich
    - Bayerische Staatsoper
    - Opéra-Comique
    - Opéra National de Paris Palais Garnier
    - Opéra National de Paris Bastille
    - Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
    - Hamburg Staatsoper
    - Teatro Real de Madrid
    - Théâtre du Chatelet
    - Wiener Staatsoper
    - Festival d'Aix-en-Provence
    - Chorégie d'Orange
    - Grosser Saal Mozarteum, Salzburg
    - Philharmonie de Paris

    Photo Sarah Bouasse

    Important roles, among others:

    - Title role in L'incoronazione di Poppea
    - Contessa de Foleville in Il Viaggio a Reims
    - Leila in Les Pêcheurs de Perles
    - World Première, Esther in Trompe-la-mort
    - Angelica in Orlando
    - Musetta in La Bohème
    - Title role in La Fille du Régiment
    - Nanetta in Falstaff
    - La Comtesse Alèle in Le Comte Ory
    - Pamina in Die Zauberflöte
    - Giunia in Lucio Silla
    - Eurydice in Orphée aux Enfers
    - Morgana in Alcina
    - Suzanna in Le Nozze di Figaro

    Visit her website by clicking [here]; you'll find links to her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts there, as well.

    Photo Sarah Bouasse


    The Exclusive Opera Lively Interview with Julie Fuchs

    This interview done in July 2018 is copyrighted to Opera Lively and Opera Lively Press, all rights reserved. Reproduction of short excerpts is allowed as long as the source is quoted and a link to this article is provided. Extensive quotes or reproduction of the interview in its entirety is not allowed unless permission is asked by using the Contact Us link on the bottom of our pages. Questions and translation by Opera Lively Chief Editor Luiz Gazzola. Some photo credits are unknown, fair promotional use. We will be happy to include the credits if we are told what they are. This is Opera Lively's interview #253.

    Luiz Gazzola for Opera Lively – Please tell me about the psychological arc of your character Poppea.

    Julie Fuchs - Poppea’s psychological arc during the opera is essentially unchanging. From the beginning of the opera, she is obsessed with and driven by her desires. She starts of wanting both power and Nero, and ends the opera with the same motivation. The only small variance is at the very end of the opera, when she realizes that the game she played was a dangerous one, and could have big consequences.

    Julie Fuchs as Poppea at Opernhaus Zürich, photo credit Monika Ritters

    OL – What are the vocal challenges in performing this role?

    JF - This role uses a much lower and has more limited range of my voice than many other roles that I sing, so using only one part of my range was a unique challenge. This role is also written in a style that is close to speaking. I worked a lot on adding colors and deciding when and where to use more air in the sound, or to use a more full operatic voice. The Italian text was another aspect that I spent time on; I really wanted it to be very clear and expressive.

    OL – This is your role debut for Poppea. How do you relate to her, as a modern woman?

    JF - I relate to Poppea as someone who is not afraid to express her desires and create her own destiny. She is connected to her femininity, and not afraid to express it.

    OL – Tell me about Calixto Bieito’s production. What are its strong points? What kind of concept is being proposed?

    JF - The set is like an ellipse which gives it a spiral energy that circulates between the characters, and makes us closer to the audience. The video screens also invite the audience into the show, and create a sense of being close to the performers. Calixto Bieito spoke a lot about Shakespeare, and how his “bad” characters and the “bad” characters in this opera can be fascinating and complex.

    OL – How is the experience of working with Mr. Bieito as the stage director?

    JF – I really wanted to work with Calixto Bieito because I love to explore intense propositions. With Calixto, the work goes on with surprising joy and simplicity. The result is certainly intense, but the process is very light, finally, and above all, very respectful of the artists. Calixto for example asked me very delicately if it would bother me to show my pregnant belly at the end of the opera, explaining to me that the true power of women is to hold life inside their bellies; but if it troubled me, he wouldd very much understand. Evidently, I followed him with enthusiasm in his proposition.

    Julie Fuchs as Poppea at Opernhaus Zürich, photo credit Monika Ritters

    OL – You had several notable awards in recognition of your talent, such as Best Opera Newcomer, Opera Singer of the Year, and second prize in the Operalia. Please tell us about the satisfaction of seeing one’s work recognized.

    JF – I feel very much honored for having received these prizes but I think that they do not define the artist that I am. They are different experiences compared to each other, and discreet moments in my carrier. Their value resides for me in the opportunity that they afforded me to meet stage directors and to reach a larger public.

    OL – I really, really loved you album “Yes!”. It has a very interesting sexy side. Please tell me about your musical selection for this album, in terms of justifying your beautiful choices so that our readers will be curious about this excellent recording.

    JF – Thanks! It is such a personal album! It contains a very particular repertory that is not approached very often by operatic singers: French operetta. There are evidently other more classical choices such as Les mamelles de Tirésias or L’enfant et les sortilèges. But the set of arias done in this disc mirrors my love for this period of musical history in France and the history of arts in general, when a grand wind of freedom is blowing, and with it, effectively, delicious text and music, in which my personality rather liberated and spontaneous was able to get expressed with lots of pleasure.

    OL – I am delighted that Zurich confirmed your contract while pregnant, but now I’m a bit curious in terms of whether or not Mr. Bieito made any sort of artistic modification given this fact of a pregnant Poppea. Did he? [This question was asked before we realized by attending the production that yes, he did; see her answer above about exposing her belly]

    JF – He immediately told me on the phone that he could not see the issue of questioning whether or not I’d be able to interpret Poppea while pregnant. Calixto wants life on stage; he wants to see the personality of his interpreters, their bodies, whatever they are, with their strengths and weaknesses. And you know what? Being pregnant gives me unbelievable force.

    OL – Regarding your career so far, please tell me about a couple of productions you consider to be your best artistic accomplishments, of which you have the fondest memories, and why.

    JF - La Fille du régiment for my beginnings at the Wiener Staatsoper, because in minutes I felt in total harmony with the role, the staging, and even the theater.

    Le Comte Ory at the Opéra Comique because in there I found the perfect mix to express my love for theater (and comedy) and Rossinian virtuosity.

    I think that a common point in the productions that impressed me is the team spirit of all artistic elements. I am very sensitive to that. In this regard, I think that this Poppea will be part of my best memories.

    OL - Do you also have an interest in contemporary opera?

    JF – Definitely! I sing for example regularly with the Le Balcon ensemble. Notably, we have performed Les quatre chants pour franchir le seuil by Gerard Grisey, which for my taste is one of the most beautiful pieces in the entire history of music. Last season I also created the role of Esther in Trompe-la-mort by Francesconi at the Opéra de Paris.

    I find that having the opportunity of working side by side with live composers is formidable, and it always enriches one’s technical and artistic limits. Contemporary music is a great game field for that.

    OL – Please tell me about your path for becoming an opera singer. What made you choose this profession, and how did it happen, growing up?

    JF – I studied violin since the age of seven, and then theater. Naturally, opera, a total art form, interested me very early. After having sung French chanson, in a choir, and in a vocal quintet a capella, I decided to seriously embrace operatic singing. Very fast, it became my profession and my passion, almost without my noticing it.

    OL – What is good about being an opera singer, and what are the downsides of it, if any?

    JF – I love to question myself, technically, humanly, and artistically. Being an opera singer is a wonderful means to do all that. We are in touch with masterpieces every day. Isn’t it wonderful? To travel, to discover new places and new people can be at the same time exciting but also sometimes fatiguing. This is why it is necessary to know how to surrender oneself with family and friends, and to look after one’s life hygiene. This profession ultimately taught me to take care of myself, without waiting for others to do it for me.

    OL – What is your vision of the challenges for the art form to continue to survive strongly in this technological day and age of small screens and smartphones competing for people’s attention?

    JF – I think that there is a lot of good things to take from this technological evolution that also touches our environment. We need to trust our art. A Caravaggio, a poem by Verlaine, or a Magic Flute, will never disappear. Much the opposite, I think that social media or YouTube for example can be formidable means to bring art to places where maybe it does not go. This is why I particularly like to share my journeys of an opera singer over my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. I meet other artists there, and I am in touch with a dynamic public eager to know more about opera and classical music.

    Certainly, the heart of our art is not on screens but rather on stage, but I believe that well-utilized technology facilitates and encourages the arrival of the public into concert halls and theaters.

    OL – Tell me about you as a person. What is your personality like? What are your other interests in addition to opera and classical music?

    JF – It depends on the day! I am curious and spontaneous by nature. I love life! I love to dance, cook, organize big parties, go to the theater, and to museums. I practice yoga, meditation, and I need to be regularly in touch with nature.


    Let's listen to Julie Fuchs:

    She is singing here an aria from Rossini:


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