2012.03.05 Engelsloge – supplement of SZ

Engelsloge –
Supplement of SZ (Süddeutsche Zeitung) 6.3.2012

A few questions for Simon Keenlyside

Previous interview 2012.06.14, Wiener Zeitung, Zweite Chance für die Stimme >>>
Next interview 2012.04 - Interview Grange Park Opera >>>

the questions were asked by Katja Schönherr.

Simon Keenlyside, born 1959 in London, studied singing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The  baritone, who has received numerous awards, made his opera debut at the Staatsoper in Hamburg as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and has also performed  in Geneva, Berlin, Paris, at the Vienna Opera, the Met in New York, LaScala in Milan and the Royal Opera House London as well as many other venues. At the Bavarian Opera in Munich he will sing Eugene Onegin on 21, 24 And 28 March, on 22 July Wozzeck and 27 and 30 July Giorgio Germont in La Traviata. He will also give a recital during the Opera Festival.


Mr  Keenlyside, just 10 minutes before your performance – what do you do?.

I warm up my voice. And I stretch my legs. Strange but on a long evening the tension goes down at that point.

Your thoughts on the first sight of the audience?

Am I well enough prepared? I cannot say that I never think about the audience during the performance but I try to block it out most of the time. I want to give a good performance – and I hope that the audience finds the same magic in the piece as I do.

Do audience members disturb you when they applaud at the wrong points?

I have to think about a line of Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff:  „Chi sccivare non puo, la propria noia, l’accetti di buon grado“ – who cannot avoid annoyance has to put up with it.” Coughs, wrong applause or turning over score pages at the end of a song are challenges with which you have to cope.

Your favourite character in opera?

I can identifiy myself especially well with Wozzeck. But basically they are all fascinating, no matter if Papageno or Macbeth.

Please, don’t say, “you have to ask the others!“, So: What do your colleagues say about you?

Probably a lot will say: “Simon who?“

The audience indulge in Prosecco in the intermission. Sometimes envious?

No!! ! I belong behind the curtain in these wonderful pieces which I am allowed to perform. This is absolutely enough for me.

Being blind or being deaf – what would be worse?

As a young man I worked for some time in the Museum in Manchester cataloguing fish fossils. My boss there had been deaf for 40 years and told me he could  still hear in his head at any time the music he knew from before. What a dreadful thought – but I think I would therefore decide on being deaf. Then I would admittedly have to learn sign language but this cannot be more difficult than the libretto of Eugene Onegin.

A song which links to your childhood?

Summertime from Porgy and Bess, sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

The most unpleasant noise for your ears?

Music in lifts. And people shouting at each other.

And the most beautiful?

The laughter of my children, Or, also a pleasure, a north European forest at sunrise in May.

What do you sing in the shower?

All the things which I wouldn’t sing on stage. Tenor arias for example…

What do you like about Munich?

The Bavarian Opera is a wonderful house with ideal acoustics, a perfect size of auditorium and of course a long tradition. Apart  from that , Munich has a lot to offer, ideal for hikers like me. But this ominous Fön Wind, which you so often complain of here, will  forever be a mystery to me.

An hour after the performance – what are you doing?

Ideally I will spend the evening with friends or colleagues in a nice restaurant.  I will drink a huge Weissbier or two and eat salt pretzels. But I have to confess,  in Munich after the performance I am always worried about reaching somewhere in time as the restaurants all close so early.

What should be played at your funeral?

Something which is close to my heart, i.e. a late Haydn quartet, maybe even the variation of Opus 75 which became the German anthem. I have grown up with string quartets and love them. Afterwards something light- hearted to show how chaotic life is. Django Reinhardt‘s Minor Swing?

Something that you want to do before you die?

To sing for many more years and live a healthy, fulfilled life – with not too many trips and as much laughter as possible.


the questions were asked by Katja Schönherr.

Previous interview 2012.06.14, Wiener Zeitung, Zweite Chance für die Stimme >>>
Next interview 2012.04 - Interview Grange Park Opera >>>

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue March 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

Would love to eavesdrop on Simon’s tenor arias !
but the role that should have been his is Peter Grimes – how fantastic could that have been ?!

Antonio March 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

I apologize to everybody. For some reason the messages have not been readable for me till now! I went last night and I found the performance fascinating!! It would have been great to meet you! Schade! Hopefully see you all for Wozzeck, I cannot wait!!

Inci Birsel March 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Just watched Eugene Onegin live stream from the bavarian Opera. Great singing Simon.So in command of his role on stage. Incvi birsel

Jane March 11, 2012 at 8:58 am

Hi Antonio,
I am going to see Simon as Onegin in Munich on March 21st. What about you?
~ Jane

Petra March 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Yes Antonio, Jane (Chastelaine), Gwyn and Alison are coming, to different performances though.
And I will see all 3 performances OF COURSE 😉

Antonio March 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Is anybody coming to see him in Münich as Onegin?

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