Performances of Giacomo Puccini's famous opera "Turandot" will be held at the Sydney Opera House in February-March. Tenor Ivan Gyngazov, a rising star of the Russian opera, will perform in one of the main roles - the part of Kalaf.
The editor of Unification talked to the opera singer about the peculiarities of the voices for the opera Turandot, about the most famous aria that everyone knows, even those who do not go to the opera, and about who he will perform with at the Sydney Opera House.
— Ivan, good afternoon, we are glad that you, despite the intrigues of COVID, were able to get to Sydney. Is this your first performance in Australia? How were you received?
— Yes, this is my first time here. I am absolutely delighted with Opera Australia, I have never seen artists so well taken care of.
— Let's talk about the opera "Turandot", this is the last opera by the famous Italian composer, on whose account such masterpieces of operatic art as "La Boheme", "Tosca", "Madama Butterfly". I heard that the composer's death prevented him from finishing it completely?
— Yes, Puccini died in 1924 and his young friend Franco Alfano finished the last act of the opera. The first production of the opera took place in 1926 in Milan. This is one of the most popular operas performed all over the world.
— You sing the part of Calaf and perform one of the most famous arias in the opera - "Nessum Dorma", its performance by the Italian Luciano Povarotti is widely known.
—Yes, I think that this is the most popular aria not only in opera, but also in world classical music. Calaf, an unknown prince who has a very steadfast strong character, will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Turandot attracts him, her strength, perhaps power. I don’t even know how much love is for him, maybe it’s such a competition with oneself, the desire to overcome all obstacles on the way. This is a self-confident and strong man, and, as a result, he manages to solve three riddles of Turandot.
— Have you already had rehearsals? Who sings with you at the opera?
— The part of Turandot has been sung by the young Australian opera singer Anna-Louise Cole since mid-February, but the first couple of times I perform with the famous American singer Lise Lindstrom, this will be her 200th performance in this role. She has participated in productions of this opera around the world, in particular in the famous production of Charles Rubo in France. She has a very interesting creative biography, she sang at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Teatro alla Scala. Together with them, Australian singers are participating, as well as singers from South Korea. In general, the opera "Turandot" is unusual in composition, it seems to me that it is not easy to find performers for the parts of Turandot and Calaf.
— Explain what is special?
— The part of Turandot is not just a soprano, but a dramatic soprano. The singer must have a special voice emission. Puccini, a representative of operatic verismo, a musical movement known for its psychological experiences of heroes, puts into his music such a drama that is difficult to express simply by performing from notes. You need a special power of voice. The same applies to the Calaf party, I think.
— Turandot asked three riddles, we will have three questions for you. Where did you get the basis of your opera education? Which theater do you call home now? And where else do you perform as a guest opera singer?
— There were no musicians in my family, but I loved opera since childhood. We have a good and large opera house in Novosibirsk, where a school teacher took us. I liked it and I really wanted to be part of the musical theater, like Calaf - at any cost (laughs). At the age of 19, I entered the conservatory to study, the boys' voices break down until the age of 18-19. Although I had problems with voice mutation until the age of 20-25. I began to sing seriously when entered the theater at the age of 25.
— I read that you are called a rising star, a young artist.
— Yes, according to opera concepts, young, 34 years old.
— Then tell us, at what age do opera singers get their full voice, are there not many twenty-year-old singers in the opera?
— I think I will have full strength soon (laughs), I hope this is just the beginning for me. And I have not seen twenty-year-old phenomena in the opera. Yes, 20-year-old up-and-coming singers become stage masters over the years.
— We hear a lot about opera theaters in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but where else in Russia are good opera schools and theaters?
— There are many good singers in Yekaterinburg, at one time Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod were famous. Good opera teachers in Voronezh. This is not such an easy task. Although, I think, in any large city, if you look, you can find a good teacher of opera singing. I had very good teachers in Novosibirsk, thank God I was very lucky with this. I have been lucky in my life with teachers.
— Still, many then pull themselves up to the Mariinsky Theater or to Moscow, so it happened with you.
— Yes, for the first time I participated in "Helikon-Opera" in Verdi's "Troubadour", the second work was just in "Turandot". The performances were very intense and taught me a lot. Later I performed at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bolshoi Theatre, and abroad - at the Vienna Opera House, at the Paris Opera, in Dresden, in Italy. But I consider my theater to be Helikon Opera, where I was able to reveal my abilities, where I study to this day, this theater made me a real singer.
— Is this a relatively young theatre?
— It was founded by Dmitry Bertman in 1990 by students of GITIS. The performances of the young theater were held in the mansion of Princess Shakhovskaya. In 2016, the reconstruction of the building on Bolshaya Nikitskaya, next to the Conservatory, was completed, and now performances are being held there, this is one of the most beautiful Moscow theaters with a hall for 500 seats. The theater is young and modern.
— In general, how popular is opera in Russia?
— Residents of St. Petersburg are very fond of going to the opera, the Mariinsky Theater is very visited. On the other hand, there are no empty seats in Moscow at the Helikon -Opera either, on January 15 I sang the role of Andrei in Tchaikovsky's opera Mazepa there. The hall was packed. Spectators go to the Bolshoi Theater, this is a popular place among tourists, cultural intelligentsia, bohemians. In Moscow, it is even fashionable to listen to opera. In provincial theaters, there have never been full halls, this is sad, people need to be introduced to culture, but this is not easy to do.
— Thank you, I got answers to all my three questions and even much more. And what would you say to our Russian-speaking readers when you invite them to visit the Turandot opera in Sydney?
— Come, enjoy wonderful music, beautiful action, beautiful voices of soloists and an ensemble of singers and the sacrament of the theater. Because the curtain opens - and the magic begins!
Ivan Gyngazov as Calaf in Turandot will perform at the Sydney Opera House
February 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 17, 26 and March 5, 10 and 14.
Interviewed by Vladimir KOUZMIN