His debut as Lohengrin in Bayreuth, Germany, was highly acclaimed by audience and critics. In the connection of the Polish Tenor voice with the DW on the challenge, to sing a Festival – and the political situation in Poland.
Deutsche Welle: congratulations on the Premiere in the title role of “Lohengrin” at the Bayreuth festival! How was the Engagement?
Piotr Beczala: It had a longer, then a very short lead. Already in 2015, I studied the role, together with the conductor Christian Thielemann. First of all, we wanted to make some performances in Dresden, so to speak, as a preparation for the fact that I am here in Bayreuth in 2018er production. Then the choice fell a few months later on a different singer.
Now, just three and a half weeks before the Premiere – exactly seven minutes before I entered the stage with a performance from the “Land of smiles” in Zurich, showed my phone that Thielemann wanted to reach me. He asked me to take on the role of Lohengrin in Bayreuth. I said, “I just don’t have time”. The other day he sent me dozens of text messages, and we began to think seriously about. I had to change dates and appearances to cancel. It was, after all Bayreuth, and still the main role for the opening. A Chance like this only comes once in a lifetime, and a Tenor should be aware of it.
Thielemann, you are called because the other singers had to be cancelled on the grounds that He was not up to the role. That was just an honest statement and a sign of artistic integrity?
For such a decision, the time was advanced plenty of, especially as he had never sung in German. You have to know a few months earlier, whether you manage it or not.
What was your first impression of the stage at the Festspielhaus?
I was once there. But after six hours drive from Vienna, I stood there suddenly appeared on the stage with the choir, lighting and all. It was stressful, but also a very special Moment. This house can be no other to compare, because everything here to Wagner turns. Every member of the Choir, every orchestra musician knows every Note.
Lohengrin as an electrical engineer
In this production, with scenery and costumes by Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy Lohengrin appears not as a shining, magical Hero from a distant fairy-tale country, but as a mechanic, perhaps as an electrician. What is the point?
Now, if you have a Problem, and five days for a technician or an electrician will have to wait, it will happen to you as a Hero. You should not quibble over so exactly, or to very on the insect wing thought that carry the main characters. Wagner makes the action in Brabant to play, but as the old German Saying, not as a historical drama. There is a touch of mystery in the air.
The acoustics of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus is legendary. How are your experiences with it?
Since I have to sing in many different halls and theaters, I’ve learned to ignore acoustics. But here, the acoustics is really better than anywhere else. When singing begins, you get the feeling that the voice coming into the Auditorium. In other Opera houses, you have to sing over the orchestra, which is placed between the singer and the audience. In Bayreuth, with the hidden orchestra pit, however, it is pure luxury.
There are many great Wagner-roles for tenors: about Siegmund, Siegfried, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. But in the Opera “Lohengrin” everyone is really focused entirely on the Tenor.
The role created by Wagner. Initially, he does not sing much, for that is very high. Then he is almost two hours long-at all – until towards the end of the second act, where he sings for about half an hour. Then again, an hour break, and then the roll really begins. The third act of “Lohengrin” is the Tenor of almost all of Italian Opera.
Neo Rauch’s stage image is completely wrapped in Blue, the protagonists
You have licked blood now, and you want to sing roles other Wagner, and not only the Lohengrin?
Actually, no. The heroic tenor roles in Wagner are in need of a harder voice. But I would like to keep my lyrical quality as long as possible. In the next three years, more than 20 Lohengrin performances are in front of me, and I hope that I can find new ideas for the role.
After the end of the Cold war, many fabulous appeared Eastern European musicians suddenly – at least from a Western European perspective, because, actually, they were always there. Does it take for a singer from Eastern Europe, still longer, until he appears on the big stages of the world?
Not more nowadays. Today, there are of course no restrictions on Travel. It depends, but still, as a singer is trained, how he prepared. Russian, Czech and Polish singer to start with Russian, Czech and Polish Repertoire. When I began my career in 1992, I have concentrated me but specifically on Mozart and on the French and Italian Repertoire. I didn’t want to be in the Slavic area are stored. It would have been for me easier, but I’d rather have taken the difficult path.
How will you actually saw the German culture at the moment in Poland?
You will be excluded. An example: It was games for the first Time in the history of the Bayreuth festival, two Polish tenors were in the main roles, but no one from the Polish government came. You have not sent even a postcard. And a few months ago, I received a European culture prize in Dresden, together with the actor Daniel Brühl, and with Prince Albert. In the Polish media that no one has observed.
This says it all: Poland is currently very busy with themselves. As part of my Job, but through the music bringing people together. I can’t say, “OK, all who have vote for and delivered: get Out of here! I only sing for the other.”
For what is happening in Poland, I have no explanation. But it’s not just there. Look to Hungary to Russia. Or the Turkey, it’s awful! Of course, America.
The other day I saw a Twitter message from a wonderful German pianist who was born into a Jewish family in Russia. After he had played at the concert, Goldberg variations, someone came to him and said: “Very nice, even if you are able to have with their cultural and other Background, there is no direct connection to Bach.” Imagine this for once! Why do some people so?
No Idea. This is not only sad. It is dangerous. I would like to talk with a human being time-intensive. I want to understand him. If someone would say: “As a Polish singer, you can be the role of Lohengrin in Bayreuth”, I would reply: “Oh, come to your senses!”
And in between a couple of days off, Piotr Beczalas currency
You have already allayed all the doubts. What’s next?
At the Moment I just try to connect my weeks in Bayreuth with a bit of relaxation. For a Opera singer the festival time is very difficult. For the past 21 years, I sing every year at Festivals, mostly in Salzburg. This means No vacation. Here we have at least a few days between performances, and thus for a brief rest. You have to print the Reset button in your head.
The games are actually there!
Yes, but in order to refuel it is necessary to distract for a time, and not only in Wagner’s thinking. When you come back to the stage, it is quite different. This is the secret of the Opera singing, and also the challenge: You have to find a fresh quality. If you push Reset and start from the beginning.
The Interview was conducted by Rick Fulker.