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Andrea UlbrichAndrea UlbrichInterview with mezzo-soprano Andrea Ulbrich, who will sing the role of Azucena in Verdi’s opera Il trovatore at the Miskolc Opera Festival on the 19th of June.

You have sung this role several times, for example at the Arena di Verona, among others. Is Judit Galgóczy’s present stage-direction significantly different from the ones you have already performed in?

It is completely different from the standard, traditional Il trovatore stage-directions, and I find it very interesting. I have to sing with a totally different approach. I do not only impersonate the well-known Azucena - the present character is much more complex. The performance has a very serious message for us, including terms like otherness or the situation of minorities. We, singers also have to understand and be aware of this, of course, to be able to send genuinly to the audience the message intended by the stage-director

Has your interpretation changed over time, anyway?

A lot. Every performance is different. Even if I sing the role five times in the same stage-direction, all the five are different. And when I am invited to sing it in another stage-direction, I try to incorporate my previous experiences. This is not only true for acting but also for the way of singing: I often realize how differently certain parts can be sung. Anyway, your vocal technique changes with your psychic and vocal maturity.   

Andrea UlbrichAndrea UlbrichWhen did you sing the role of Azucena for the first time?

In 2006, in Italy.

Why do you like this role?

Above all, because of its dramatic character. It is a difficult, but very paying role, one can reveal many colours in it.  I have to create the role of a clouded-minded woman, in whom the heart of a mother, love, misery and the instinct of revenge can all be found. It is heartbreaking to experience it. I think you need a certain maturity and life experience to be able to bring all these into your performance.

How challenging is this part vocally?

It is not easy to sing it, but when you know it well, it is not difficult, after all, because Verdi was an expert of voices.

Is it uncomfortable for opera singers to sing in an arena, with amplification?

For me it is not unfamiliar, because I have already sung in this way in Nabucco in Basel. That performance was in a huge stadium, where we used microports, of course.

Do you keep your voice low on such occasions?

I can’t, or rather, I do not want to keep my voice low, because the colour of my voice would change then. I sing as I always do, and the sound engineers do the rest.

Anyway, do you listen to your own recordings?

Yes, but I am very critical of myself.

Andrea UlbrichAndrea UlbrichYou have already sung at the Miskolc Opera Festival in 2005.

Then I sang in Norma, in the role of Adalgisa. Miskolc is especially dear to my heart, because my father, Endre Bottyán was one of those, who founded the first opera department in this town. [Editor’s note: Bass-baritone Endre Bottyán’s original name was József Ulbrich, who performed by the name Endre Bottyán. He founded the first opera department of the Miskolc Theatre together with Péter Mura, Ervin Lukács and Ádám Horváth.]

You have sung Azucena not only in Verona but in other opera houses, too.

My first dramatic role was Amneris in Aida in Dusseldorf, in the middle of the 2000’s. Then came Azucena, a role which I sang in several Italian cities. I performed in Triest, Cremona, Como, Pavia and finally at the Arena di Verona, where I sang for four years: Fenena in Nabucco, Azucena in Il trovatore, and Amneris in Aida. The last was broadcasted live all over the world in 3D from La Scala to the Metropolitan and the Covent Garden, and also in some neighbouring countries, but not in Hungary, unfortunately.

Can the audience of the Arena di Verona see you again?

I very much hope. After my four-year series of performances in Verona my knee was operated, so I missed much time. But now I am alright. 

Balázs Csák
(www.operaportal.hu)

 

 

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