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15 Questions to Eva Vogel

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! I’m sitting at my kitchen table in Cologne after having cooked and devoured a very yummi meal.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Having  performed my song recital with Irwin Gage in Duisburg just recently, I am now concentrating again on operatic roles such as Hansel, which I will sing at Duesseldorf Opera,as well as Flowermaiden in Parsifal, a role that awaits me in a concert version at Concertgebouw Amsterdam early next year. Also, I am traveling to New York City, my old hometown, in a few days, to do some auditions and catch up with my friends from College. I can’t wait!

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I don’t really think I chose music, it was natural for me to go into that field. To be a musician.. It had to be music. Music chose me, i guess. I really can’t imagine doing anything else.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
My teacher Christa Ludwig definitely influenced me a lot and still does. Having the chance to learn from such a great and experienced artist is really a treasure! I feel truly blessed and take every opportunity to go see her in the south of France, where she lives with her husband.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
Tough question. I guess the discipline and hard work, day in, day out, and the solitude that comes with it are hard sometimes. Most people who aren’t in the business don’t understand what it takes to be a successful singer. There is no such thing as a lazy weekend or “off work” or holiday. Another thing to consider: you always carry your instrument around, within yourself and it wants to be treated carefully. The voice has to be trained and kept in shape constantly. On the other hand - and here comes the best stuff - it is the most wonderful feeling to make music with other people, acting on stage, having an orchestra carrying you and colleagues to work with and establishing a connection with the audience.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I guess the present situation is tough, with not enough money for the opera houses and culture in general. Also the fact that the audience is becoming older and older doesn’t help. At Cologne Opera, I performed many operas for children and sometimes went to elementary schools to teach young kids what classical music is about and what it means to be an opera singer. The children were all very much interested and inquisitive about the subject and  I believe that this kind of approach is essential in raising appreciation for classical music in a younger audience that will eventually become supporters of the opera and music lovers.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Every artist is unique.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Intense preparation of the performer, positive attitude of all the musicians and a spark that can ignite the audience. For myself, I always try to have enough time beforehand, obviously I am as prepared as possible. This means that I have found the character that I am portraying, I have made up a story of their former life, I become this person, I speak his or her language, I act with what I understand as their personality. I try to be concentrated, yet relaxed. Once I am on stage, it is important that I get along with my colleagues and that we know that we can have fun together. I think it reflects on the audience, if we, as performers, are energetic and work well together. Then the audience can connect and therefore can be more involved in the piece. This separates a good performance from a boring one in my opinion.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
Interpretation is a way in which we as musicians perform the particular piece of music so as to convey our understanding of the work. Our understanding comes from having studied a piece theoretically, then analyzed it and on top putting our unique, personal note into all of that. In a way, it is a reflection of a  opinion if you’d like, which is  illuminated through the instrument. I hope that makes sense…

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
I am not sure whether there is a true or false response to this question. In my opinion every true artist automatically puts his or her personal emotion into the music. I don’t know how one would be able to separate one’s personal emotions from the performance. In opera, one tries to become the character that one interprets and find the emotions that one presumes this character would have and express, but I think there will always be part of oneself mixed into this interpretation.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Ansolutely true. Cruel to some, but true!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
Mostly true. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t go and listen to concerts or operas or some such without being educated or well prepared. Sometimes music just grabs you without prior preparation. Though in general I would recommend listening to recordings and reading a bit about the composer or the storyline of an opera beforehand. This way, the appreciation will be almost guaranteed.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I guess all my favorites, some of which are operas like Werther, Walkuere, Carmen, Massenets Don Quichotte (all of them with an absolutely stunning cast, of course) as well as Recitals including repertoire such as Wesendonck Lieder, Mahler Rueckert Lieder, Winterreise etc. you see, mostly singers stuff and almost all of it having something to offer for mezzo…a bit bias or partial…what can I say…

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Die Walkuere, with Birgit Nilsson as Bruenhilde and George London as Wotan. London Symphony Orchestra. Old stuff but fabulous!!! I could sit on my sofa and listen forever.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I still try…I play the piano. I used to be better at it before I tore a ligament in my thumb while playing volleyball in highschool. Ever since, I used the healing process as a nice excuse not to practice anymore. My piano skills are good enough to help me learn new repertoire, but far from performing seriously in public.

Eva Vogel

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