Federico García Lorca’s dramaturgy becomes music at the Tenerife Auditorium. The capital of Tenerife will be the scene on the next days 19, 21 and 23 (7.30 pm) of this exercise in alchemy with Bernarda Alba’s house, in which the music of Miquel Ortega and the libretto by Julio Ramos transform the title of the Andalusian poet into a contemporary opera. The mezzo soprano Canarian-Venezuelan Nancy Fabiola Herrera will play the protagonist of this drama.
-Is it very different to face an opera like ‘Bernarda Alba’, which before becoming a score was already one of the classics of Spanish theater?
“The fact that this work already existed gives you numerous references about the story that you are going to interpret and you can delve into the different points of view with which it has been approached in a theater. It allows you to read it and reread it, to delve into your character, in his story. But this circumstance also lends itself much more to comparisons. That’s why you have to put the batteries, because there are numerous references, and very good ones, and especially because you have to try, in some way, to add your own stamp. Without imitating anyone, but trying to express what the work is telling you. All that makes it a great challenge ”.
-And how is that encounter between the words of Federico García Lorca and the music of Miquel Ortega?
“The author of the libretto, Julio Ramos, totally respected Lorca’s text. The opera reproduces it almost in its entirety. So we are going to find a proposal very faithful to the original. The way in which Miquel Ortega has musicalized that text has been, in my opinion, brilliant. With his music, he has managed to portray the personality of each of these women very well. Even in the case of the male character who does not appear, Pepe el Romano, but about whom everyone talks. Miquel has found the leitmotiv precise for each of these personalities and the opera works in a way that I consider spectacular. Lorca’s own text is already very powerful, it is wonderful, with which a marriage fantastic between lyrics and music ”.
– Precisely, Miquel Ortega himself is the musical director of this production at the Auditorio de Tenerife. What does it give you as a singer to be guided by the author of the music you are going to perform?
“We are extremely fortunate that the composer directs the orchestra and the singers. This for any artist is a real pleasure, since the usual thing is that we interpret works by composers who are no longer there, especially in opera. In this case, having the privilege of being able to do the work of a living composer and direct you on top of it, is a very great plus. Because then there is a construction of the character, both vocally and interpretively, according to what the author pursues, beyond the fact that there is a stage director who also offers his vision and enriches the proposal ”.
-You have already had the opportunity to play Bernarda Alba on other occasions. Right now she is immersed in rehearsals for performances in Tenerife. Does the character evolve, do the nuances change, as you play it?
“Yes, definitely. You are assuming the vocality of that score more and more as your own. It is a fairly complex score, both on a musical and vocal level, which is also a reflection of the complexity of the theatrical work. Every time I return to this role, new things emerge and others settle. It is a process of enrichment as I interpret it and I feel it more like something of my own, like a second skin ”.
-Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti; Handel, Mozart, Gluck; Stravinsky, Piazzolla or Falla. During your career you have performed the music of a large number of composers, but is there a specific role or author that you would like to take on in the future?
“There are always things to do. I have been fortunate to have a long career and to be very musically curious. I have always liked to approach different authors, from the classics to the contemporaries, so I would like to delve into other works and other composers. Over time, the vocality changes, matures, and you face new roles. I would like, for example, to continue delving into Verdi. I also consider myself a great mahlerianaGustav Mahler fascinates me and I consider him an author to interpret in the maturity of life, because at that stage you understand it differently and the vocality is much richer at this time. I have not dabbled in German music so much and I would like to do it, for example, with Richard Strauss. I have been fortunate to play Herodias in Salome and it is another territory, very different from the one I travel on a regular basis. I feel much more like a fish in water with the French and Italian repertoire, but I loved immersing myself in that other world and would like to continue exploring it. I hope to continue being curious, both in the symphonic world and in the world of opera and zarzuela, until the day I leave. If you are willing to do it, you never just grow as an interpreter ”.
-How is someone like you, who is dedicated to a trade in which closeness to the public is essential, living in this rare time conditioned by a pandemic, in which confinement is prescribed?
“It is being a huge challenge, but also a great learning experience in many ways. There have been moments of all kinds. Of uncertainty, of being eight months without being able to work, but also of not stopping to do so since September of last year. When life puts us in a situation like this, I have always thought that one has to flow. Beyond that uncertainty, I experienced confinement quite well. At no time did I get bored or feel bad inside the house. I took advantage of it to do other things that I didn’t find time for when I was on the road. I also used that time to do nothing at certain times. It seems like you have to feel guilty about it, and yet I think sometimes great ideas come out of it. In the same way, there have been times to prioritize things differently, to realize precisely how to navigate in unforeseen situations such as those that arise, to know that not all eggs can be put in the same basket in order to that, for example, your economy does not depend on a single income … I have rethought a lot if what I was doing was really what I was passionate about or not … Beyond all the negatives of this pandemic, I also believe that it has brought us positive things ”.
-And from the stage do you feel a greater expectation or, if you prefer, a greater gratitude, among the public, for finally being able to attend a show that the pandemic had made exceptional?
“Yes I am sorry. I remember when I got on stage in Madrid, after eight months without being able to do it. People had just started to go out into the streets. And the emotion was, and still is, very great. All that you feel. It’s like a back and forth current between the audience and the artists. A year ago when I finished singing an aria, I got the biggest applause of my life, not the longest. I think the public’s response had to do with their immense desire to listen to live music, to regain a certain normality, to be able to enjoy art. A practice that I have applied since the end of the confinement, and that serves me a lot, is to get up every day and show my gratitude for everything. We often take many of the things we have for granted, but this pandemic has taught us to see the wolf’s ears, not to take anything for granted. So I try to enjoy every moment and appreciate it, on and off stage ”.
-Is there much work to be done, in your opinion, so that opera, zarzuela, classical music shed the prejudices that often distance it from what they call the general public? What do you think those who do not usually go to these proposals are missing?
“I think it is a process that must continue to evolve. In some way, we should copy the resources used, for example, pop, which knows how to reach millions of people. From classical music we have to get more out of the marketing and also to creativity. And do not consider it as a specific stronghold for certain types of people. We have to get rid of that cobweb that many appreciate and that people feel classical music as their own, such as rock or Latin pop, for example. From there we could take many things so that we incorporate classical music into our lives, because, without a doubt, it is an experience completely different from any other. The energy that musicians or singers who do not use microphones move on stage is something irreplaceable that many people do not know. Classical music moves our souls like no other. I also believe that this objective would greatly favor, in all the arts, if an effective patronage law existed in Spain, as there is in other countries. Thus, the entire cultural burden would not rest almost mainly on public administrations, but also on the private sector ”.