jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009

Interview with Emilie Pictet (soprano)

Photos: © Emilie Pictet; Blanche, © Tanja Dorendorf / T+ T Fotografie; Pepa in Zarzuela, Basel Opera; Micaela in Carmen, Festival de San Lorenzo el Escorial © Andres de Gabriel©.

Ramón Jacques

Talent, sympathy and beauty are the perfect adjectives to describe Swiss soprano Emilie Pictet, who recently debuted at the Festival de Verano de San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Spain, as Micaela in a controversial production of Bizet’s Carmen staged by famed director Calixto Bieito. That’s where I first discovered her voice and acting skills. In the early stages of her career she has sung roles in Mozart operas such as: Cosi Fan Tutte (Fiordiligi and Despina), The Magic Flute (Pamina), Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Musetta in La Boheme by Puccini and a program of selected works by Handel, Purcell and Monteverdi, as well as a zarzuela with Calixto Bieito, that she has sung on stages in Switzerland, Italy and Spain. She has sung in recitals and concerts at Wigmore Hall in London, Megaron in Athens, Vienna Mozartsaal in Viena, and in Geneve, Lausanne, and Germany. Emilie kindly agreed to do this interview where she talked about her bright career and future plans.
How did you become interested in pursuing a career as an opera singer?
I started as a dancer at a young age, then I did theatre in school and was part of a chorus, until the director of that chorus told me that my voice was “too special” to just sing there. I began taking private voice lessons in Geneva and was later admitted to the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig, Germany where I graduated with a diploma in theater and singing.

What kind of soprano would you describe yourself to be?
My voice is lyrical appropriate for singing works by: Handel, Monteverdi, Gluck Mozart and Haydn, as well as some romantic roles. For instance, I recently sang the role of Micaela in Carmen in Spain, and Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, so far my favorite role, which I sang at the Basel Opera in Switzerland.

What song or aria would you sing to someone who has never heard your voice before?
I would sing “Chanson Triste” by Henri Duparc and Fiordilig’s aria “Come Scoglio”.

You’ve participated in several voice competitions. How important do you think this kind of exposure is to an aspiring young singer?
Personally, I don’t like competitions. However, I believe that in an audition for a role one should think as if one were a competition and just be the person one is.


What singers from the past of the present do you admire or consider a reference?
I like Régine Crespin and Renata Tebaldi very much. I also like Véronique Gens, because I think her voice sounds similar to or resembles my own voice.


How important is the acting part of a role compared to the vocal part?
It’s 50% of a role. I personally don’t like to hear perfectly technical voices. Rather, I want to see on stage a character, not just a voice, because I don’t like neutrality, anonymity and certainly don’t want political correctness. Maybe that is the reason why I like so much to work with Calixto Bieito.

Calixto Bieito is considered to be a controversial stage director. Can you tell us more about your experiences working with him?
Working with Calixto Bieto is challenging because for him nothing’s ever enough. He’s like a vampire who wants more and more. I’ve worked with him in a Zarzuela, in Lulu and in Carmen in Spain. Bieito, pushes singers into a world they didn’t know existed and makes them discover things about themselves. He wants singers to explore their own world not to control it. The thing about Bieito is that he doesn’t care about leaving a bad impression in people. He’s not there to please the audience. In other words he’s not there to “decorate” the lives of people with his work, the way art, paintings and music do. He does not care about the embellishment of life, instead he wants to wake up people by presenting strong images.
How does Calixto Bieto’s ideas compare to the Regietheater, very popular in opera houses in Germany.
It’s important to preserve the dream that takes part in theatre and opera, and there should always be a balance. For instance, Bieito’s position is very clear. He doesn’t want to please the audience, but there’s no reason to kill the show, or destroy it the way many regisseurs -not as bright as Bieito- do it in Germany. With Calixto there’s always magic, and that magic is easy to destruct and hard to create.

Why do you like recitals so much?
I like recitals very much and I do lots of them because I feel I can create an intimate atmosphere with the public, and alone with a piano I can sing, create and easily influence that atmosphere. Unlike a concert with orchestra where that can’t be done. I like singing the music of composers like Shubert, Schumann, and French composers like Fauré, Duparc, Poulenc and Debussy.

What are your future commitments and what roles do you see yourself singing in the future?
My future plans include singing roles in Lulu and Parsifal at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, also La Resurrezione by Handel in Lausanne with Gabriel Garrido, as well as the Brahms Requiem; and Zerlina in Don Giovanni in Marseille and the role of Métella in La vie parisienne in Nantes, France. In the future I would like to sing the roles of Mimi in La Boheme, Poppea in L’Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi, and again the role of Blanch in Dialogues des Carmélites.

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