Intervija ar Kristīni Opolais - žurnāls L'officiel Baltic

Interview with Kristine Opolais - magazine L'offieciel Baltics

On August 26, the world-famous opera singer Kristīne Opolais will give a concert in the wonderful atmosphere of the Ola Foundation. In an interview with L'Officiel Baltic, the singer tells which role she considers the most important in her career and why it is so important for every woman to enjoy the feelings of falling in love.

"I love Puccini, my career is directly related to his compositions, but if Puccini circulates in my blood, then Dvorzak has conquered my soul with his "Mermaid".

You have not performed in Latvia for a long time. What will you offer the audience at the Ola Foundation concert?

I always enjoy working together with pianist Agnese Egliņa. I rave about her talent. We had more than one concert together. This autumn we will go on a concert tour, which will include performances in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Budapest.

The concert will feature arias from my favorite operas, there will be a lot of wonderful Italian music: Puccini, Verdi, Catalani. The exception will be Dvorzak. The rest should remain a secret, as we are still working on the program.

The life of an opera singer is a real whirlwind of characters. Which role has influenced you the most?

Title role in Antonin Dvorzak opera "Mermaid". I thought for a long time what struck me so much about this character. It was lucky that the performance was made in the wonderful Bavarian National Opera and was directed by the brilliant Martins Kušejs. The concept of the performance was modernized and very heavy, because the original message was supplemented with a terrible story about real events, namely a father who used his daughters as sex slaves.

The period of creation of the performance coincided with my long illness, when I lost my voice, could not sing and did not even know if I would be able to return to the stage.

The action on stage took place in the basement, and we walked through several centimeters of water throughout the performance.

Ironically, the Mermaid does not sing in the second act of this three-act opera. It's a completely dumb scene, where I only had to show through acting and movements the suffering that my heroine experiences from the betrayal she experienced in the human world. Her heart was broken.

The mermaid's pain permeates all the opera's music, and I felt completely merged with my character, because without her voice I felt even closer to her. This role has remained in my soul forever.

I love Puccini, my career is directly related to his compositions, but if Puccini circulates in my blood, then Dvorzak has conquered my soul with his "Mermaid".

Do you have favorite stage costumes? They are a very important part of the image… 

Nineteenth century dresses. No modern performance with modern costumes can so vividly and deeply reveal the spirit of opera. Of course, there are also completely crazy, surreal variants. Sometimes I like to perform without a costume - in a T-shirt and leggings, when there are no overly impressive costumes, special effects on the stage, but only the director's point of view, the actor's voice and acting, as, for example, in the performances of Dmitry Chernyakov.

But anyway, I'm a girl, and I know clearly that every opera singer, regardless of her figure, will look great in vintage clothes that make you feel special once in a while.

What else helps you get into character? Does it happen that for a while after the show it's hard to get out of it?

At the beginning of my career, I gave myself completely to the role and after the performances I was a bit strange, walking like in a fog. With experience it became easier - on stage you work and know when and how to enter the character. Although there are also favorite moments in which you fly away... If the libretto contains tragic events related to psychological upheaval, such as, for example, Madame Butterfly or "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk County", you are in this mood all the time, as if you never leave the character, especially if there are several performances in a row.

On the other hand, it's very difficult to act truthfully - like you're not acting at all. An experienced viewer can mostly see when an actor is not being real on stage. When I took my first steps in the opera, Andrejs Žagars, whom I miss very much, said: «You should have such body language as if all this is really happening to you. It's a delicate game – it's not necessary to throw your arms wide and strike a pompous pose.'' He suggested maintaining an internal conversation between voice, body and soul, and this advice has followed me throughout my life, in every performance. In every role, I forget about myself and completely immerse myself in my character.

What place do fashion and style occupy in your life? And what style do you prefer everyday?

If it wasn't for my status, I probably wouldn't think about how I look. But, thank God, the public obliges. (Laughs.) I don't like too popular brands, I want there to be some mystery. I love casual chic, sporty chic, casual sport style... If I could go to important receptions in this look, I would, because I don't like evening dresses. The stage is one thing, but life is quite another.

I don't like to take certain positions, I don't like when everything is too stiff and formal. It is important for me to feel as if I have taken off on wings and taken off through the air. Leggings, a white shirt, trainers or crocs - a great bag and go!

I generally like naturalness in people. Honestly, we paint to disguise ourselves so that we are not seen as vulnerable. The world is cruel, and seeing you real, sincere and open, people start to cross the lines, so sometimes you have to draw bolder lines.

By the way, I don't like makeup on stage either. Sometimes you can't do without it, but I have long since given up special hairstyles and make-up in solo concerts. Usually, opera singers have something complicated on their heads, and that's not my thing at all.

"Honestly, we paint to disguise ourselves so that we are not seen as vulnerable. The world is cruel, and seeing you real, sincere and open, people start to cross the boundaries, so sometimes you have to mark them with bolder lines.»

I can't help but ask how you manage to combine the work of frequent guest appearances with the role of mother.

This is a painful question. The hardest stages of life, thank God, are behind me, and of course I have chosen my daughter. Career has been successful - I have sung in all the best opera houses in the world. You can't sit on all the chairs and sing all the parts. In addition, young, capable singers are appearing all the time.

I often took my daughter with me to guest performances, often left her with my mother, and at some point I realized that it was impossible to build a normal mother-child relationship and a stable home life in this endless whirlwind of performances. But it is important for the child, the child always longs for mom.

Realizing that time is passing and I will not be able to recover the years spent far away from my daughter, I gave up my busy work schedule in order to devote more time to her. I am very glad that I made this decision.

How do you stay professionally motivated? What energizes you and helps you fight burnout when it happens?

Sooner or later, any passion passes. As long as you strive to conquer its object, you have enough excitement. When you've achieved yours, passion burns brightly for a while longer. But when only coals remain, the fire has to be rekindled. I like to meet the audience, who want to hear me directly, buy tickets to my concerts. It renews enthusiasm and inspires to work.

Do you have your own secret to staying fit and mentally healthy?

I have no special secrets in this regard. I have realized that I just need physical exercise, physiotherapy, swimming pool, walks along the sea, fresh air. If I don't move, I start to wither. I feel best in motion, especially when traveling. I'm fueled by upcoming work, guest appearances, and it's at these moments that I look my best - full of inspiration, eyes shining! Falling in love is also an effective incentive - this is especially important for a woman. You also need to be able to accept compliments and believe in yourself – it always works and beautifies any woman.

Autors: Marianna Hodash, L'Officiel Baltic

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