Natalie Dessay-Bucharest-press conference-23.09

......Last night, while waiting to get in at the Swingle Singer, I heard somebody talking about Natalie Dessay but I didn't pay too much attention. On the way home, the thought was bugging me. Why were they talking about her. When I checked on the web site of the festival, I couldn't believe me eyes. But there were nothing official. This morning I wrote to the press office of the Festival asking if it's really THAT Natalie Dessay. The answer came in 10 minutes. "Yes, it's her". What a joy! This is the best change in the festival. So far famous people cancelled. This time one of the best sopranos these days stepped in.
......Natalie Dessay arrived today in Bucharest. And there was a press conference at the Athenaeum, half an hour before the afternoon concert, at 4:30. Somebody at the door almost stopped me to ask what I am doing there. Almost. But the attitude matters, so I got in very fast.
......She came at 4:30 sharp. Part in English, part in French, she answered all kinds of questions. There were about 15 people in the room, most of them journalists. Two ladies from the Radio, several critics, somebody from a TV station, probabil TVR Cultural, and I. Why I went there? Just out of curiosity. I like to see how famous people behave when they're not on stage. She's a normal lady, she seemed tired but it's probably because she was coming from the airport. She smiled at everybody and invited people to speak.
......I took some notes. Questions and answers, no comments from me. Everything lasted for about 25 minutes.
1. Tell us something about the Missa. I recorded it some time ago. This concert was unexpected. I replace my colleague Sandrine. Listen here one small excerpt from Missa in C Minor by Mozart. This is what she'll perform tonight, accompanied by Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and "Madrigal" National Chamber Choir.

2. People say that Mozart is "medicine for the voice". Do you agree? Not really. Mozart is very instrumental. The medicine for me is Bellini.
3. Why don't you sing more Mozart? I can't do it anymore because of the voice. I'm in between characters. I moved on.
4. More acting or more singing? I love to act and that's why i don't appreciate opera in concert. It's important to act. Of course, I have to sing in opera, but the main goal is acting.
5. Is there a role closer to the real you? Not a chance. It's too complicated.
6. Do you know any Romanian artists? Yes, sure. Ruxandra, Angela, Leontina. And Andrei Serban. I worked with him.
7. Do you get invloved in a production? When I first start I don't know anything, the director has to tell me everything. if I stay, I think it's possible to do it. For me it's an exercise. It's my job to please the director. He's the boss. I don't discuss, just propose gently. I try to become somebody else, that I have never thought I could be.
8. What's your goal? On stage I have to make people forget about everything else, they have to dive into the emotion. We are entertainers for 3 hours. If they believe and they stay with us, that's it. I have to be the best person, best artist, I have to improve every day. That's why I started yoga and horseback riding. It's important to be a beginner in something after a certain age.
9. How is the family involved in your career? They're sacrificed. Sometimes I sing with my husband (Laurent Naouri). We can't do it always together. Somebody has to stay with the children. So I sing for 6 months, then it's his turn. But we sung together in Traviata and Peleas and Melisande. (Listen to them. Haydn - The Creation)

10. How is singing with your husband? we share the passion and the view regarding this job.
11. Is there extra emotion involved? When we work, we work. It's more beautiful as we know eachother, we dare to do things to eachother.
12. What do you think about the Athenaeum Hall? I haven't been there yet. But people told me it's the best for what I'm singing. Much better than the other one.... the big one... (The Palace Hall).
13. Have you talked to the Director of the Romanian Opera House about a future cooperation? No....
14. What role are you preparing? Musetta, in La Boheme of Puccini. I thought I should sing one Puccini in my life. This is what I think i can do. I also sing in La Sonnambula. I sing it in Vienna for the last time because I've done it so many times and I have to go on. So I'll say good bye to Mr Holender. I prepare Hamlet at the Metropolitan in New York and La Fillle de Regiment at Royal Opera House in London.
15. Do you prefer Bach or belcanto? They're very different. I think you can sing everything as long as you don't mix it. I like the change, to discover new things, new people. I try to improve.
16. What do you think abotu modern productions? They're interesting. (they talked about Mary Zimmerman's La Sonnambula. Here she spoke in French. The main idea was that she was not very happy with it). I'm not against tradition. But this tradition must be alive.
17. You're very honest. My age (she's 44) allows me that. Life is too short to loose time. When I was young I didn't dare to say anything. it's not the case anymore.
18. Do you consider yourself a diva? No, I don't match this description. I don't care, I get annoyed. I just do my job. I'm more a craftsman than an artist. I don't need to get on stage to prove I'm working. I know it.
19. What's your realtion with the public? I don't work for the public. I don't ask myself what's my realtionship with the audience. I don't do anything for the public. I do only what I like.
20. Those who say they're singing for the public are hypocrites? No, it's only me. The idea of being in front of the public came later for me. I don't like to see the public. That's why I don't do too many concerts. I'm scared. I know they paid for the sear, they came especially to see me and they have high expectations.
21. Is there any difference between a lady director and a man director? I haven't worked too much with women. But I don't think so. I don't make a difference. when we work we're all artists.
22. Do you act according to what's written in the score or you follow what the director's saying? Sometimes the music says something, the lyrics something else. it's the director's job to combine them. It's like painting. You draw something, then erase, draw again, add something.. and so on.
......That was it. it ended before 5pm because the concert was starting. She is beautiful inside and outside. She knows exactle what she's doing and wants to be the best. It's a huge honor that she's here. If I may say this, she's the cherry on the Festival's cake. I invite you to the Athenaeum on Friday night, starting 10:30pm.
......And now, here's Natalie Dessay

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  1. Thanks for the nice interview.
    Natalie is a clever and charming artiste. I admire her a lot.
    Enjoy her concert!


  2. Welcome. Actually it was not my interview. I was just there taking notes and looking at her. The other journalists/critics asked the questions. I don't have the courage. Yet.

  3. How exciting!! Sandrine Piau must have been ill. I saw Natalie and Laurent a few months ago in "La Traviata" at the Santa Fe Opera, and then the year before that in "Lucia di Lammermoor". Twice lucky! I also love her hair in those photos . . .

  4. Welcome here, Sarah!
    I've never seen her live before. i saw the live broadcast from MET, with La Sonnambula. So yes, you're very lucky. She has a great voice!

  5. Sonnambula speaking, Nathalie Dessay is not as good as her compatriot Annick Massis. I've seen a superb performance of La Sonnambula with Massis and Florez in October 2006 at the DOB (Deutsche Oper Berlin). I consider that particular performance the best one I ever attended in 35 years of opera going.


    BTW: I am Romanian but wrote in English for the benefit of non-Romanian readers of this blog