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18.12.09

Vivica Genaux's Attachment to Italy

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Pyrotechnics
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux has been in Vienna this fall, singing the title role of Rossini's Tancredi (we last heard her in Washington in Rossini, and in Baltimore before that) under René Jacobs and the role of Ernesto in Haydn's Il Mondo della luna under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Marie-Aude Roux caught up with her in her apartment on the Kettenbrückengasse for an interview (Vivica Genaux, la cantatrice venue du froid, December 13) in Le Monde (my translation):
Except for Mozart, whom she has sung very little -- "I would not be better at it than many others, so why bother?" -- Vivica Genaux's career resembles that of her illustrious elder, Cecilia Bartoli. The same preference for the great Rossini mezzo roles (Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola, L'Italiana in Algeri), for the trouser roles of Baroque opera (Handel, Vivaldi). The same pleasure in singing the pyrotechnical repertory of the castrati (Broschi, Porpora, Giacomelli). The same desire to revive forgotten music (Hasse). "I have always had a knack for melismas," she confides. "For me, it's very close to improvisation in jazz and to high fashion. Then there is the virtuosic side, which is thrilling. It's like driving a race car at fast speeds on the highway while saying that we must not miss the exit!"

Other things draw the Italian singer who emigrated to Zurich closer to the American one born in Fairbanks, Alaska (in 1969) who now lives in Venice. The ever-watchful eye of a mother and voice teacher for one thing, that of a voice teacher who has become like a second mother for another. "I went to Italy to study with Claudia Pinza, the daughter of the bass Ezio Pinza, when I was 22 years old, and I just stayed there, sort of," she says. "Not only do I still work regularly with her, but it was there that I met my husband, and you know Italian families, they never leave home!"
Genaux's latest CD has been in my ears, and a review is forthcoming. She just sang her Vivaldi recital program in Paris on Monday, and she will star in La Cenerentola, which opens at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on January 30.

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