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Volume 11 Issue 3 - November 2005

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Recent! in town ... by

Recent! in town ... by Pamela Marg/es l HEARD THE RusSIAN SOPRANO Galina Gorchakova in September, in a concert at the Prague Autumn Festival. She sang a thrilling program of Italian opera arias. The audience loved her, giving her the only standing ovation of the eight operas and concerts I heard there. A week later 1 was back in Toronto, and so was she, here to give a concert. Gorchakova made her debut outside of Russia in l 99 l, in Prokofiev's treacherous Fiery Angel. She dominated the nineties with her unmatched performances of Russian and Italian opera. With her voice, presence and beauty, she was hailed as the next Tebaldi or Callas. Her recordings and DVDs, especially of Russian opera with Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Opera, remain benchmarks. In the eight years since Gorchakova last sang in Toronto, in a recital at Roy Thomson Hall, much has changed for her. Gorchakova sti ll lives in St. Petersburg. But she left the Kirov, the domain of conductor Valery Gergiev, six years ago. The process of striking out on her own, beyond Gergiev's control, has been challenging. But what has not changed is her voice, which remains tender, penetrating, powerful, colourful, expressive-and above all, passionate. I spoke with Gorchakova the day after her concert at the George Weston Hall.With us was the presenter, Svetlana Dvoretskaia of Show One Productions, who stepped in to translate when Gorchakova would abandon her eloquent English for what sounded like excitable Russian. Interviewing this fascinating and complicated singer is like stepping back into a novel ofTolstoy or a play ofChekov, with her intensity, passion, vision, and fatali stic sense of suffering for an ideal beauty. She is a beautiful woman, whose graciousness matches her sensitivity. Remote from the world of business plans, marketing and aggressive management, she doesn't even have a computer, cell phone or web site. The day before her performance she gave a decidedly unconventional masterclass at Remenyi House of Music. When Gorchakova suggested to one participant that she open herselfup and feel the music with her whole body, she refused. What Gorchakova was demanding, she felt, was simply too vocally risky and emotionally demanding. ' What can I give you?' Gorchakova asked in puzzlement, not pique. Gorchakova rewarded the most involved and communicative participant with enthusiastic support for her work in building a strong, stage-worthy technique. She talked about using lots of individuality, colour and mood changes. ' You must be not cold inside -you need fire. You must feel like a tiger.' She reminded them to always believe in themselves. Then she sang two songs, which said more than words ever could. At the concert next evening she sang six Russian songs plus two encores by Glinka, Rachmaninov, and Tchaikovsky with the virtuosic Moscow Chan1ber Orchestra, lovingly conducted by Constantine Orbelian. ' When I come on stage I feel like a queen, like the most important person at that moment. It's very difficult to keep an audience for two hours, but I'm very happy in a concert when l feel they are mine.' Indeed, she looked like a queen, and sang like a tiger.As in Prague, she was I um inous. ' I try to put into each song a whole life - a long, long, long, long life injusttwo minutes! ' I asked how she did that. ' I don 't know - th is is magic, I think. ' She does have that rare ability ­ charisma, star-quality, call it what you will - to command complete attention, as though lit by an enchanted spot! ight. 'The public loves Back to Ad Index me' she says simply. 'But critics don't like me. ' Gorchakova's voice is rich and alluring, with no signs whatsoever of the problems I had read about. In fact, I have never read such contradictory reviews - that she is too loud, too soft, too emotional, not emotional enough, too strong an actress, a weak actress .. . 'Six years ago I left Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre (the home of the Kirov), where I was the main soprano. That was the beginning ofmy general problem. But - it's not only my problem. Gergiev is a very powerful man, throughout the whole world . Whoever has the guts to leave him, Gergiev says they left because they lost their voice. He says that I'm stupid, I'm not a good musician, I can't act.Al l this rubbish goes to my head. When he tells a singer that she will never sing again, it kills her psychologically.' Tm full of ideas and fire, and I need to give something to the public. I really want to sing, just that. Everybody kept calling 'I try to put into each song a whole life - a long, long, long, long life in just two minutes!' me a superstar, a primadonna. Honestly, I absolutely never wanted that. But, when somebody tries to stop me from singing .. 'Anyways,' she added unconvincingly, 'if! don't sing on stage, I can still perfectly find my place in life. I'm happy because I' m alive and the sun is shining. I'm a very simple person. ' She has been working closely with Orbel ian, who records frequently with upcoming Toronto visitors Ewa Podles and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. ' Orbel ian is the best kind of conductor, and he is very kind person.' She recently performed her firstNorma in San Diego with another favourite conductor, Richard Bonynge. 'When I did Norma, I listened to my favourite singer in this role, Joan Sutherland (Bonynge's wife), but of course I must be myself. I was so happy to sing Norma one time in my life. Everybody was crying, especially in the second part when I sing about my children and about love. Sometimes this happens. This was not just a soprano singingbel canto - this was a li ve person. You need to be inside this music.' ' I love expressive melody. I try to be dramatic in a role. I need to move around - I need to be a woman on stage. When l did Norma even the director said it was the first time he felt Norma was a live person. I think this is the best compliment to get. ' 'l try to be very different from other singers. I crush all tradition - that's interesting for me. Not just to be different, but to be right.' It's not that she wants to impose her own ideas. 'The ideas are there in the opera' . CONTINUES Geo~ ; \ & Co. Limited CONSERVATORS & PURVEYORS OF Fine & Rare Violins 201 Church St., Toronto, ON. MSB IY7 Tel: 416-363-0093 • Fax: 416-363-0053 Email: ghcl@idirect.com www.georgeheinl.com Canada's foremost violin experts. Pro ud of our heritage. Excited about the fut ure . WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM PHILIP L. DA VIS Luthier Forme,·ly with J J. Schroder: Frankfurt, West Gwnany 416-466-9619 67 Wolverleigh Blvd., Toronto ON M4] 1R6

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