Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

10 Questions for...
Aleksandra Kurzak

September 15, 2011

 
Aleksandra Kurzak. Photo: Andrzej Swietlik/Decca 2011

There's another big star who knows her way around the Mozart repertory and who will be seen starting this week in Los Angeles. Her name is Aleksandra Kurzak, and if you don't already know her name, you soon won't forget it. She’s sung Donna Anna and Susanna just about everywhere and I was particularly taken by her turn in Don Giovanni in Salzburg in 2010. At Los Angeles Opera on Sunday she’ll make her role debut and company premiere as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte alongside Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and an all-around excellent cast under conductor James Conlon. (Spoiler Alert: She was nothing short of amazing at Wednesday night’s final dress rehearsal so don’t say nobody warned you well in advance.) Kurzak’s career has taken off on the major international opera stages in recent years and her schedule is packed with several high-profile assignments. After Los Angeles, she’ll move on to New York where she’ll be singing Gretel for the Metropolitan Opera over the holidays. But she’s taking on many of the cornerstone Italian soprano roles as well and to trumpet this development, her first recital recording for Decca, Gioia! was just released on Tuesday. The disc features arias from Puccini, Verdi, and Donizetti alongside her well-known Mozart roles. With all that’s going on for her, Out West Arts was extremely lucky to get some time with her for another back-to-back session of 10 Questions.
  1. What role would you most like to perform, but haven’t yet?

    There are a lot of roles I would love to sing, but unfortunately the ones I would most like to portray such as Tosca or Butterfly are not for my type of voice. Of course you never know how your voice will develop and how it will be in the future, but for now they remain just on the wish-list.

  2. What role would you never perform, even if you could?

    I've never thought about it actually. But most probably it would be contemporary music.

  3. You’ll soon be making your Los Angeles Opera debut in a new role for you, Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Given that you are particularly well known for your Mozart roles, what is the best thing about singing his music?

    Mozart is very difficult to sing. It's a kind of test for a singer. You can hear everything. You can learn a lot. It is a pure technique. If you can sing Mozart, if you know how to do it, you will never get lost. You will have no problems with different styles, from the technical point of view. Not even one note can be missed. You can't hide yourself behind a orchestra, or by using some romantic portamenti. The music has to sound very simple and because of this, it's so beautiful.


  4. You’ve got a new recital recording out from Decca this month featuring a wide variety of Italian and Mozart arias. What was the inspiration for the selections on Gioia!?

    These are arias I am performing right now. At the beginning there was an idea to concentrate on one composer, but we soon decided that maybe I should show a little bit more. Different styles, composers, different colours. A kind of calling card.

  5. What do you like best about singing for audiences in the United States?

    The audience is just wonderful. Very warm and enthusiastic. The people come to the theater to enjoy the show, to have a great time and it can be felt and it helps us as the artists so much, because we can really feel it on the stage.

  6. Which music made you want to sing opera?

    Opera itself :-) My mother is an opera singer and my teacher, my father used to play french horn in the orchestra in the Opera House in Wroclaw, my native city in Poland. So I basically grew up in the opera house and there was no other choice.

  7. What qualities do you like in an opera stage director?

    I like when they know something about music and understand singing. I like a fresh outlook. I like a modern style of acting. I want to see good theater but with respect for the music. I like the collaboration. I think that all of us, not only directors are responsible for the new production. It has to be a teamwork.

  8. Aleksandra Kurzak (L) and Ruxandra Donose (R) in LA Opera's Cosi fan tutte. Photo: Robert Millard/LAO 2011

  9. You’ve worked with many of the major conductors and vocalists in the opera world over the length of your career. Is there someone you haven’t worked with yet you’d like to?

    My biggest dream has always been to work with Maestro Domingo.

  10. What's your current obsession?

    Maybe it's not an obsession yet, but I do like bags and shoes :-)

  11. With which of your operatic roles do you have the most in common?

    I would say my dream role Tosca. She is a singer who lives for love and music. This is very beautiful, to live your life surrounded by persons you love and do what you love.

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