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2017.17.10 Interview with Dominique Meyer at the Vienna State Opera

Simon Keenlyside in Conversation with Dominique Meyer

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Agrana Studio, Vienna State Opera




Simon was interviewed by Dominique Meyer, Director of the Vienna State Opera, in the Agrana Studio Theatre in Wallfischgasse. The interview was a relaxed conversation conducted mainly in German, with Simon lapsing into English from time to time.

Mr Meyer asked Simon about his early life as a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge and they also discussed some of Simon’s earliest roles on the operatic stage. At one point, to Simon’s evident horror, Mr Meyer produced a large colour picture of Simon as Marcello in La Bohème at the Vienna State Opera in 1999. This picture can be seen at the end of the photo gallery below. They also discussed Simon’s possible future roles – Boccanegra and Ballo in Maschera are the only two he mentioned – and his current role as Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande in Vienna. Simon said that he did not like the character of Golaud. Another character he dislikes is Macbeth “but he is such fun to play!”

Other topics covered in the interview included Simon’s favourite opera houses to sing in – Vienna and Munich; conductors he has most enjoyed working with – Abbado and Muti – and his love of nature, birds and his farm in Wales.

Photo Gallery


Our thanks to the photographer who provided the main picture on this page and photos one, two, three, seven and eleven in the gallery.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gudrun October 24, 2017 at 7:07 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Sue. For me, it was an extra treat to listen to Simon speak my mother tongue, which he does really well, despite all his protestations: “Ich bin so dumm in Deutsch!” (I’m so stupid in German.) No, that’s definitely not true.
Director Meyer and Simon seem to be on very friendly terms, both using the informal German “du” to address each other. This also contributed to a really relaxed atmosphere.
Some moments/ comments that have stuck in my mind:
– Simon has become a singer because: “Life is so difficult, so chaotic. Music is the only logic, the only place where it makes sense.”
– He illustrated the different ways of Muti and Abbado (two of his favourite conductors) to make a singer or musician do what the conductor wants – with the help of a saucer and an (imaginary) glass ball:
Muti: puts the tip of his forefinger on the glass ball to keep it in the middle of the saucer.
Abbado: moves and balances the saucer until the ball stays in the middle.
– The Wiener Staatsoper is planning “Winterreise” with Simon and Thomas Ades at the piano! And Mr Meyer mentioned that he is going to put on “The Tempest” again. So maybe we can see Simon as Prospero in Vienna.

Sue October 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Such a pleasure and a luxury to spend an hour in Simon’s witty company.
Despite not liking Golaud as a character, surely no one creates him as a human being more expressively and movingly than Simon.

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