Coffee with… Adriana Lecouvreur

Exclusive Interview to Maria Jose Siri
Ph.: Roberto Ricci

Author:

by Bianca L. Nica
June 14, 2021

INTRODUCTION

OPERA Charm Magazine brings in front of its readers their favorite opera characters, throughout their top performers, starting from its 3rd/2021 issue, with an exclusive interview of the soprano Maria Jose Siri by Bianca L. Nica. Montserrat Caballé was the first soprano that Maria Jose Siri listen to for the first time as Adriana Lecouvreur. She was amazed by the beauty of the music, the femininity of the singing and the power of the character. Maria Jose knows Adriana well and says that they are both in love with theater - the soprano, with opera, while the character, with acting - which is found, anyway, at the roots of opera. “When one studies deeply the text & the music, he or she learns to think and move as the character. Then, there is the stage director that decides the features of a certain character. But a soprano has to know exactly what kind of woman wants to impersonate”. The soprano confesses also that the monologue is, in her opinion, the hardest part of this role for any opera singer that hasn’t studied acting. But since the challenges motivate her a lot, she also says that the monologue is also the part she loves the most. Maria Jose hopes to be soon back on stage as Adriana Lecouvreur and we definitely share her thought. Meanwhile, let’s meet together… Adriana Lecouvreur!

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Uruguay to Italian ancestors, Ms Siri began her vocal studies at the ENAL Montevideo, completing them at the Paris Conservatory and with Ileana Cotrubas in Nizza and Vienna. The recipient of the 2017 Oscar della Lirica in the category Best Soprano performed her first operatic roles on the stages of her native country and in Argentina, making her career breakthrough in Europe in 2008 as Leonora in Il trovatore at the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa under the musical direction of Bruno Bartoletti. Having established herself as one of the leading singers of the Italian repertoire in Italy, she moved to Verona in the mid 2000s and later acquired the Italian citizenship. Ms Siri rose to international fame when triumphing in the inauguration of the Teatro alla Scala's 2016/2017 season, making her debut in the title role of Madama Butterfly conducted by Riccardo Chailly. She immediately became one of the most requested interpreters of the role of Cio-Cio-San. Ms Siri's rich Verdi repertoire includes more than ten roles, from the composer's fierce early dramatic coloratura warriors such as the latest addition to her repertoire, Abigaille in Nabucco, Lucrezia Contarini in I due Foscari or Odabella in Attila, to titles such as Il trovatore, Simon Boccanegra, Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, the French and Italian versions of Don Carlo as well as Otello. Most recently, Ms Siri caused a stir as the tragic protagonist of Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino 2021 in a new staging conducted by Daniel Harding, proving “to be an interpreter of the highest order, not only for her lush vocality but also for an emission that ideally recalls Tebaldi’s full and resounding sound” (Opera Áctual).

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INTERVIEW

Dear Adriana, thank you for accepting my invitation! It’s an honour for us to interview such a famous woman as you, an artist in the true sense of the word. How are you? How do you feel in this historical moment we are all passing through? It is also a tough moment for you as an actress, right?

During this period, I was very confused because, as a child, I only did tours, and my life was on stage, so living like this made no sense to me. I do not feel motivated; I look for inspiration, but I feel alive only in that magical place.

Tell us about yourself, Adriana… How would you describe yourself in a few words?

Io l’umile ancella del genio Creator.

Do you think your story is a current one? If you lived today, you would be a newspaper character. Do you believe there are still generally actors and artists so appreciated and loved by the public and the state as they were in your time?

Obviously, I would be in all the newspapers because talent must be recognized, and it is always good news. Someone told me that by now, those who write in the newspapers do not understand anything about art and limit themselves only to distilling repressed poison for their frustration. I know! Such a life would be very frustrating, but everyone lives what they deserve. I grew up as a child acting for important people who respected and recognized an artist as being particularly sensitive and at the service of art, not entertainment (what mainly my colleagues do today) but questioning, exciting, comparing, doubting, affirming, dreaming, growing… a lasting quality, the power of art is none other, in religion, in politics.

Sure, a woman like you has a lot of admirers, but you, Adriana, are in love with only one. Who is Maurizio, and how did your story begin?

Maurizio, the Count of Saxony, was love at first sight, they introduced us, but I prefer not to talk about him. I never saw him; he is the most unfaithful man in the world!

What does theatre mean for you, and what else did it mean if you weren’t an actress?

For me, theatre is everything, and I don’t imagine being anything other than an actress.

What’s your favourite role, Adriana? And if you had lived in the 21st century, what would be the role of cinema that you would have liked to interpret?

My favourite role is Electra. I have performed it over a thousand times. If I had to choose a cinema role, it would certainly be very dramatic and strong, but a good director would have to be born to stay at my level in this century (ironically)… Joan of Arc, Medea, I don’t like commercial cinema… tough question!

Another somewhat difficult question … What are 5 of your strengths and 5 of your weaknesses, Adriana?

In your field of work, the theatre, it always happens that there are envy and tension among the greatest actresses of the moment. How do you get over these problems, and do you think this problem is current both in your time and today?

AHHH! Duclos… mediocrity has no limits, yesterday and today!

The story of your life is followed on stage in front of a thousand people in the greatest theatres of
I ride, Adriana. What is the message behind it, the moral of your story you would like that it come to the people who attend these opera performances with your name?

I am the daughter of a washerwoman and a hatter. From these humble origins, I have become the main figure of French comedies, remaining steadfast for many years, holding a place in the very high-level society, desired by everyone, by Voltaire himself, who was previously my lover, and then he became a great friend. My message is clear, no matter where you start, it matters that you know that your gift is a responsibility that you have to indulge with a lot of study, discipline and dedication. There are no sacrifices when you have the passion. There are no limits when you have a dream.

What is the most charming thing about Adriana Lecouvreur?

The most charming thing about Adriana is the transformation from that child prodigy to the most admired woman in Parisian society, with a strong personality, explosive femininity, and congenital humanity combined with an acquired elegance.

What is the most charming feature of opera?

The amazing combination of words and music, as a complete form of art, from dancing to painting, from lighting and scenography, the body language in the singing expression, the harmonics as a superhuman power of emotional- high-quality flying vibration, and the miracle of the voice, that s the most incredible and divine experience.

Thank you, dear Adriana!

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Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

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With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

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During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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