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Interview with Bryn

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Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 2880
Location: Norway

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:46 am    Post subject: Interview with Bryn Reply with quote

A link for an interview with Bryn in the Austrian magazine Die Bűhne 01.07. The interview is in German and there are a couple of nice pictures of Bryn.


I have tried to translate some of Bryn’s answers.
• I welcome each possibility of singing at the Vienna State Opera with open arms. I have had marvellous experiences since my debut as Figaro under Riccardo Muti in1993. Vienna is a dream for every singer; when I arrive forty fans are already waiting at the stage door. In the last four years I have been completely blocked by Richard Wagner....
• I think I will be singing Don Giovanni for the last time in January at the Vienna State Opera. By the way, I find that Leporello fits me better, which I sang in 1994 for the first time at the Salzburg Festival in the production of Patrice Chéreau. Leporello is merrier; he is more fun to play. I play the Don as a very dark, sadistic man, who stands at the abyss, not fun at all. His contempt for the women, even at the end of his life, is frightening. He is a monstrous seducer. Fortunately, after singing for nearly twenty years, I have the possibility of selecting my roles. And those are at present Wotan, The Flying Dutchman and also Scarpia in Tosca. I must be careful in choosing my roles. I have never forgotten, how I 15-16 years ago auditioned for Eberhard Waechter in Vienna, and the first role offered to me, was Hans Sachs in Die Meistersingern. At that time I was about 25. I even considered it, but fortunately people who looked after my voice, advised against it. One of them was Sir George Solti…
• Falstaff is the top of all opera roles, which I can play, because it offers unique possibilities to the actor and the singer. The role is musically difficult; there are so many traps; if one does not watch out, you’re gone. In addition one is padded and covered with bellies, wigs and beards, and then the women make fun of the poor cuckold. I like Falstaff; he is a bad rogue. I play him as an old man with a young heart. I think Verdi described himself in his last opera.
• I will in January speak with Ioan Holender about roles I might sing in Vienna, not only the old ones which everyone knows, but hopefully also new ones. Thus my goal for the next ten years is to sing some new roles at the Vienna Sate Opera. Surely Wotan in the new Ring, The Flying Dutchman, Gianni Schicchi which is new on my repertoire. Scarpia I would gladly make in Vienna; and then a little well-known piece, which I find great: Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim, which I sang three years ago at The Lyric Opera in Chicago. It is not a „proper “opera, but „a musical thriller “, very theatrical, a dark operetta, for which one also needs very good actors. I believe it would be a sensational success in Vienna. There are nearly endless possibilities for the next ten years. I will limit my visits to America to one production a year; and therefore I can do more in Europe. And if there is an opera house which has the best chances, then it is the State Opera, because the Viennese public really loves the opera voices, even if the production is forty years old. The Vienna State Opera stands for the romantic aspect of the profession.
• There are numerous opera houses asking me for this role, but I think I will make my debut as Hans Sachs with the Welsh National Opera, however in 2010 at the earliest. And I would like to make it with Peter Stein. Cardiff can praise itself of six productions with Stein and I sincerely hope he will make the Meistersinger with me there. If there is a Michael Schumacher among the directors, then it is surely Peter Stein. That is perhaps not a very good comparison, but you select somebody at the top of his profession, Tiger Woods, Ronaldinho. Like Peter Stein. One can learn unbelievably much of him, and he has quite special qualities, not only as an artist, but also as a human being. He has a very systematic way, perfectly structured work, he is able to take the best out of each actor and singer; his productions are great. I have only experienced something like this with Patrice Chéreau - marvellous, he worried about each little thing, with much knowledge, care and tenderness. He played each figure and lived every role. One only had to re-enact.
• That was an unbelievable evening, with this brilliant music, and then I came on the stage and sang this calm, heartfelt aria. I imagined at that time, perhaps the Toreador song from the Carmen would be better fitting. But naturally, these pieces were played for the reopening of the opera house after the Second World War, from Don Giovanni to Die Meistersingern and Die Frau ohne Schatten. The atmosphere of this concert was remarkable, full of tension and nervousness, and these great singers behind the stage, warming up in different corners. It was very difficult to find a quiet place that evening.
• I think the Echo Klassik is a substantial aspect of the recording industry. To remain it needs happenings as this, because the CD market, above all concerning opera, is not so great. In the last six years I have not recorded any opera, until a few weeks ago when I recorded Carmen - with Andrea Bocelli. Do not get me wrong, Bocelli lives the opera, music comes from every pore of his body; but because he is well-known to the general public one tries to move the sales. Anna Netrebko sells very well in Germany and Austria, she has all the advantages - a good voice, lyricism, youth, beauty, and one can project the Russian romance on it. This development is very interesting: One wants to know more about this country. A few weeks ago I performed for the first time in Russia; I sang the third act of Die Walküre under Gergiev in Kiev and Moscow. It was a marvellous experience performing in these enormous halls; everything totally sold out and queues in front the theatre, amazingly. But back to the Echo Klassik: I am pleased about the prices. I believe Winston Churchill said; he rather would present the awards then getting them. With me is not like that. If I were not a fan of such events, I would not have come to the award ceremony in Munich. I sang a concert aria by Mozart: Io ti lascio, to o cara, addio, at least he wrote the violin part, Sting delivered the laudation, and Cecilia Bartoli and Renée Fleming were there too.
• The great Richard Wagner kept me imprisoned with chain and ball the last year. The recording of Tutto Mozart! with Sir Charles Mackerras in Scotland was just like a vacation for me, like an oil change for the voice. One must accommodate the mad requirements of Wagner to the apparent simplicity and beauty of Mozart.
• I do not know what a Mozart singer would be. Who specifies that? Each singer should begin his career with Mozart, except if he has a voice, which from the start “cries” for Verdi or Wagner. Somewhere we small midgets must begin with a genius, and Mozart is naturally a constant dimension in the planning of opera houses. One does not have to fit at all into the stylistic glove of the Mozart singer. Mozart is the right music in order to learn the profession, and for me this was a marvellous beginning. I have sung Figaro for six different debuts - Cardiff, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Paris -, and these debuts are the most important events in a young career. This was my calling card, but then one must go further. One cannot always remain „a Mozart singer “. In addition: Time passes, and now the next generation of young Mozart singers are already appearing. I loved every moment with Mozart, rehearsals and performances with colleagues. A Mozart opera is always a very collegial meeting; if one sings Mozart; the whole ensemble goes out afterwards in order to drink, eat, and relax. The Wagner singers are lone fighters; they remain alone after the performance. If one asks ones Brünnhilde after a very long rehearsal of the second act of Die Walküre whether she wants another drink, she says: „No, I am completely emotionally worn out and must go to bed right away! “.This distinguishes Mozart from Wagner.
• Next year I will sing my last Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera and, as said, my last Don Giovanni in Vienna. Mozart was naturally a genius, and the roles, which he wrote for the bass baritone, are particularly great. These roles are also interlaced with one another, and I could in the Don Giovanni not only sing the Don and Leporello, but also Masetto. But I will stop jumping back and forth; I will put on the eye patch of Wotan and will only stand there and enjoy the music. I will sing Wagner and a little Verdi. What I really would like is a composer writing a role for my voice. Citizen Kane after the film of Orson Welles would be great opera material. The main figure, Charles Foster Kane, is a newspaper magnate, who marries a soprano, and at the end there is this mad scene with the rosebuds; his last word before his death is „rosebud “. I spoke with the new Met director Peter Gelb, and we will see. He wants to bring the Met to the standard of the 21. Century, everything was antiquated. And he brings the House to radio, to TV, in newspapers. When did you last experience a scene from the Vienna State Opera in a talk show? I find it has to be. Recently, David Letterman screened a scene from the Barbier from the Met, and they didn’t sell 80 per cent of the tickets, but 95.
• I will drink wine. I hope that Mister Kracher has already picked the grapes for his wonderful sweet wines. I will taste the Umathum, the Zweigelt and the Martin Donabaum Riesling. In Wales there is no wine, unfortunately it lies too far to the north, it is too cold, and there is too much rain. We had the largest rainfall in the first week of December since 1950, there were nine flood warnings.

Last edited by TER1310 on Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:34 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for that link Bjorg. And thank you also for such a long translation. It's interesting to read about Bryn's plans for the future, now I can look forward to Hans Sachs in Cardiff in the not too distant future!

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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Bjorg,

Thanks so much for your translation. Bryn has some very interesting opera plans for the future!

Phyllis Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the translation Björg, quite a job! I think Bryn does a stunning impersonation of Thomas Hampson by the way... Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bjorg
That is a wonderful interview and many thanks for translating it for us all! It is lovely to read of Bryn's plans for the future.
Gillian Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bjorg, what a wonderful gift you made for us - a long, great translation.
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Joined: 15 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great article and a great translation, Bjorg. Thanks!
The recording of Carmen with Andrea Bocelli sounds intersting - I'll keep an eye open for that.
How can Bryn call himself "a small midget"? Does he never look in the mirror!? At a whole foot shorter than Bryn, I don't know what that makes me!

Irene Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Irene...surely that is "our Bryn's" sense of humour, calling him self a small midget...cant you imagine that wicked twinkle in his eye as he saying it!
At the end of the day, wherever you are
May you holdin your hands, the wings of
a dream
Hold in your memory the smile of a friend
And hold in your heart a wish for tomorrow
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