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The Baritone Nicolae Herlea at 85

Tuesday, 28 August 2012 , ora 12.52

On August 28th, 2012, the baritone Nicolae Herlea, one of the great opera voices in Romania, turns 85.

Happy Birthday, maestro! With what thoughts do you welcome this anniversary?

My thoughts are always towards divinity, because only the divinity has kept me alive, and allowed me to live as long as 85 years. I had a restless life, and an enormous responsibility, because God gave me a special voice, and then work became primordial. Only by being calculated and working hard one can achieve amazing things like performing in the great theatres from Metropolitan, La Scala, Paris, London, and Vienna, with great conductors like Karajan and so many others. For me, it was an important life, but quite restless, in general.

I want to thank the radio station for the way they always thought of promoting me. I wish them all the best and I give them all my love.

You were talking about the great stages on which you performed. Is there a special one?

No. I have never had moments when I thought that if I sang in La Scala, I would sing differently… I performed in Bucharest and La Scala in the same way, because I have always believed it was my fate. My life has been full and I spent a lot of time on everything that meant art.

Out of the numerous roles which you interpreted in your career, is there one about which you have special memories?

I couldn't have one. I am maybe a more earthly example, but I was like a mother. If I had ten children, I loved them all the same. You need to study very much in order to get into your characters. I created on the stages, regardless of their size, and I did not make a difference between bigger theatres and smaller theatres. They were all important theatres, with audience and people who knew what working at the opera meant.

What qualities should a young musician, who wants to build a solo career, have and what do you advise them?

It is very difficult to advice. There are many people who easily advice others and it is not a good thing. My advice is to work hard, seriously, and if they believe they can sacrifice their life then they can approach this manifestation - because you cannot call it a job, or anything else. It is art, it is completely something else. I think you also need a gift from God, because I felt it. I studied at conservatories of music, and others, but that was not the most important thing. They either sacrifice for it, or they do not, and then not much comes out of it. So, a lot of work, earnestness, and sacrifice.

Andreea Chiselev
Translated by Camelia-Aura Barbu
MTTLC, University of Bucharest