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2009.03.03 Kurier interview with Peter Jarolin

A voice-actor in a dark ocean

Kurier 3 march 2009 (Peter Jarolin)

Translated by Petra Habeth


From 7 march Simon Keenlyside sings the title role in Tschaikowsky’s Eugen Onegin at the Vienna Staatsoper. The acclaimed Baritone is being interviewed:

He avoids every society-event, does not take part in commercials and  shields his private live from the public. Simon Keenlyside does not really fit into the current image of an international top star of the opera world. But the British Baritone is one. Anyone who has ever heard  Keenlyside knows that the former Zoology student belongs to the top of his profession.

This can be verified again from  the 7 march onwards at the Vienna Staatsoper where Keenlyside will sing the main part at the opening night of Tschhaikowsky’s Eugen Onegin. “not a part to dream about but a dreamlike, if not ingenious work “.

Fears of commitment

“No, I don’t like Onegin very much the artist underlines. But: “it is a challenge to create this part. Because Onegin does not develop” the impassioned Liedsinger says. And more: “Onegin is a procrastinator. First he rejects the enthusiastic love of Tatjana. Years later he wants her after all. In between he shoots his supposed best friend in a duel. And all that just because he has fears of commitment. in this respect this figure is very contemporary. As a singer you have to work a lot with the colours of your voice. But I do this already always. I am so to say a voice-actor”, laughs Keenylside.

And how were the experiences of the “voice actor“ with the Russian language? “That was an agony. You are swimming though a dark ocean and don’t see land  But I am not allowed to complain, I am priviledged to sing what I wish for myself“. Nevertheless “Eugen Onegin“ will remain the only Russian part. “I have a lot of respect for languages, and for the German language. And I have learned recently as many parts which have to sink in.

This applies to Berg’s Wozzeck, but also about Verdi’s Rigoletto, “La Traviata’s” Germont, Posa in “Don Carlos” and Verdi’s “Macbeth”. Keenlyside adds to it: “I am in talks with the designated director of the Vienna Staatsoper Dominique Meyer. Macbeth will come to the circle” [the opera house is also called opera at the circle because it lies along the inner circle street]

Love relationship
“I like to be in Vienna. I love the Staatsoper, the Musikverein, the Konzerthaus – this all fits with my worldview. And I like to sit in the Stadtpark read German poems and arrange my recitals. Though I have to confess: I have never learned the German grammar.”

And how long will the Baritone go along to the Salzburg Festival?
“Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to be in the mountains and therefore at Salzburg. The Festival was always very good to me. But I have just recently married, then my wife became pregnant and I promised her to stay with her. My family has got the absolute priority now. This means less work. Also I have to decline some wonderful offers for it.”

Would Keenlyside advise his son to take up the profession of a singer? Laughing: “the question is too early. My son is just some weeks old. But you have to know that as a singer you’ll lead a life as a gypsy.”

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