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Marius Brenciu on the Stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and Live at Radio Romania

Tuesday, 22 January 2013 , ora 9.32
In the '90s tenor Marius Brenciu won his first awards at the international contests 'Julian Gayarre' - Spain and the 'George Enescu' Festival. In 2000, he was awarded the Third Prize and the Special Jury Prize of the prestigious 'Reine Elisabeth' Canto Competition in Brussels, and in 2001 he was awarded the First Prize at the 'Young Concert Artists' Competition in New York and he was also awarded the 'Singer of the World' Main Prize and the Song Prize at the renowned canto competition in Cardiff, thus becoming the most competitive Romanian artist at the start of the third millenium in the world of opera performances.

What was next for him? Acknowledgement, developing an international career, or as the opera singers call it - the first, the second, the third...overall, the tenth seasonfor Marius Brenciu. The ten seasons that took him constantly and directly onto great stages, like the one at the Metropolian Opera House in New York.

Marius Brenciu is at the Metropolitan right now. And from there, Radio Romania will broadcast live his performance on 26th January, a performance commented live from the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Studio in New York by Luminita Arvunescu and aired by the two cultural stations of the public radio, Radio Romania Music and Radio Romania Culture, both in Fm and audio-video on their websites.

La Rondine
by Giacomo Puccini, Nicolas Joel's superb production dedicated to Giacomo Puccini's work - premiered during the 2008-2009 season and in which you sing- by the MET. The leading cast then was formed by Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. Now, the role so beautifully interpreted by Angela Gheorghiu, is sung by a young debutant soprano from Lethonia, Christine Opolais while Alagna's part is sung by the italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti. The protagonists in La Rondine were changed, whereas you remained the sole interpreter of Prunier's part. Why do you think you were the MET's only option for this part?

I have no idea. I was personally offered to sing in the restaged performance. In 2008 they already knew that they would restage this performance in 2013. They proposed me the new dates in their calendar and I accepted. It is just a matter of choice from the managing and casting teams, but this I have to say, there will never be another Magda like the one interpreted by Angela Gheorghiu on the MET stage. We have another soprano, who also has her talents, but Angela touched hearts much deeper. But we can't always eat caviare, can we?

How does a opinion trend start at the MET?

Firstly, opinion is generated by the ones that make decisions, the ones who decide the casts and that opinion perpetuates everywhere in the theater: from wig makers to pianists and assistant directors. There is an extraordinary thing at the Metropolitan. Namely, the great majority of people who work in the theatre are extremely involved in what happens around them. They all love the opera. There are people who work in areas like make-up or costumes and can tell you incredible stories about the artists that sang at the MET. Some even caught the era of Franco Corelli and they can analyze a voice in an extremely competent manner, with surprising tones for someone who knows the respective artists only from the armchair of the spectator. The performance is always discussed in the dressing rooms the previous evening. And a performance like the one from 2008 for La Rondine, with an ideal cast and accuracy suitable for a C.D. recoding, it shall be remembered and implicitly the world talks about it for a long time after that. Yes, people talk…

Thereupon people talk about you, who have one of the four leading roles and that there you are back at the resuming of this production. How does it feel to be back in the team of the Metropolitan Opera House ?

I have found the same American type team, let's call it, a team that transmits a state of high spirits and a lot of optimism during the rehearsals, as only real professionals do, but there is no need mentioning their professionalism. I have not sung in all the opera theaters of the world, but still I sing in the greatest ones; and concerning the care of the guest artist the MET, in my opinion, it is somewhat different from the other theaters. I am referring to the care for each developing stage for the singer - for the costume, for make-up, but also to that care for the guest star to feel good, not to feel like a stranger in such a big city, like New York, in a theater where there are hundreds of employees. Everything seems planned to make possible a pleasant and efficient communication. They even have an artists' buffet where we all meet to drink a cup of coffee during the rehearsals. Well, we live special moments there. For example, last week when I was accompanied by George Petean - my good friend who had just had a very successful interpretation in the opera Andrea Chenier, at Avery Fisher Hall - we met Piotr Beczala, Juan Diego Florez, Samuel Ramey and we talked about different things, we had fun…And such encounters are really rare, if not impossible in other theaters, not to mention the atmosphere created. Everybody around the table, speaking, of course, about opera…I believe that any manager or journalist would like to join such moments.

That's right. At the MET, the care for the artist's comfort leads even to arranging the famous buffet with its whole starry atmosphere… Beside that, all the singers I have interviewed so far in my two journeys to New York, told me that the experience itself of singing on the stage of the Metropolitan is an extraordinary experience. And I talked to
Piotr Beczala, Susan Graham, Karita Mattila, Diana Damrau... Do you agree? In what does the uniqueness of this experience consist in?

Actually, it consists in a paradox. The MET gives you the impression that you are being squashed by the immensity of the concert hall and at the same time the feeling of easiness on stage: a feeling not so common on other smaller stages. We know it well that there are theaters in Europe and in other places, of only 1000 places, in which the acoustics is so difficult, that the mere fact of singing there is an increased effort compared to a normal performance in other theaters. But the MET presents this paradox, the stage is large, the concert hall is enormous, and still the acoustics on stage is enjoyable to the singer. You do not feel the need to strain your voice, you do not hear the orchestra too loud, and you do not stress yourself. Obviously, in La Rondine, we are lucky to have splendid sets designed by them - that garb the stage. It is an advantage because, for example, I met Peter Mattei who sings in Parsifal and he told me the other day: "how I envy you for the sets you have, because we, in Parsifal, have an almost empty stage." Because at the MET if the stage is empty, it suddenly becomes immense and the sound can be lost.

Therefore, what does your return to the MET mean to you?

It is a most rewarding time of my career. It is a reunion with a theater, a team and a stage that I connected to from the very first moment. And I really enjoy that Radio Romania will join me and maestro Ion Marin on the 26th January, enabling the Romanian music lovers the contact with the most impressive lyrical stage of the world.

An excerpt from a detailed interview take by
Luminița Arvunescu - Radio Romania Music - that will be broadcast during the intermission of the live transmission of 26th January, 2013, recorded in the International Radio Studio of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Translated by Iulia Florescuand Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University