Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ARIA READY: Q&A with Christiane Libor, our Leonore

We started looking at “Abscheulicher!”, the major aria at the heart of Fidelio, the other day, and today we find out more about this great piece from the singer who will be performing it in Seattle, Christiane Libor. Ms. Libor will be making her Seattle debut with Leonore in the fall, and we’re tremendously excited to have her take on this challenging role, which she has already sung with great success in Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich, and Nice. Says Speight Jenkins, Seattle Opera’s General Director, “When I heard her in Berlin, I determined at that moment to do for her a Fidelio. She is amazing.” We asked Ms. Libor a few questions about singing this aria, and were impressed by her thoughtful and heartfelt answers.

Why does Leonore sing the aria “Abscheulicher”?
This aria is all about her "mission" and what she knows she has to do.

What do you like the most about singing this aria?
I like the dramatic and musical effects—the changes between action and reflection.

What is its greatest challenge?
For me the challenge is being both male and female. This is a big part of the fascination of the role - being a woman, myself, playing a female character playing a man - and trying to convey both roles/genders/characters as a part of the drama.

Does singing it take a lot out of you?
The role is harder for me mentally than physically or vocally.

What’s the dominant emotion in this piece?
Eternal love.

Presumably you’ve never been in Leonore’s extreme situation (i.e. masquerading as a man, up against a paranoid tyrant, etc.). Is it easy for you to relate to what she’s going through?
I have never been in Leonore's situation but I can relate to her emotions because Beethoven gives me the music to "feel" her joy, her pain, her love, her life.

What is distinctly Beethoven, couldn’t have been any other composer, about this aria?
The way this aria transforms the principle of hope into a reality and makes the moment very alive.

Does Leonore change or grow in this scene?
Very much. Leonore finds self assurance and this gives her the freedom and energy to act.

Has your interpretation of this aria changed in the time that you’ve been singing it?
Yes, over many performances it has evolved from a dramatic approach to an intellectual one.

What are you usually thinking or feeling when you get to the end?
At the end of the opera, I am always thinking about "freedom" and what this idea means for the character, for the story, and the audience, as experienced through the music of Beethoven.

Here is a recording of Christiane Libor singing “Abscheulicher!” in Berlin, a couple of years ago:

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