In the midst of her international career Anne Sofie von Otter is taking time out to lead this summer’s Master Class during the Birgit Nilsson Days.
1) I’m delighted that you now want to return to the Birgit Nilsson Days and lead the Master Class, just as you did here three years ago. Is the structure of this course different from other masterclasses you have given?
– It’s always fun to work intensively for several days on a course and to be close to the students. Here we will be together from morning to evening for almost a week and you have the chance to get to know each other very well. Plus summer and sun and Bjäre and music all day long – a wonderful combination. The last hour of the last day is quite tender, but happy. That’s how I felt when I was on the course three years ago and I expect it to be like that again.
We’re also at Norrviken’s fantastic gardens and this time in the lovely new Birgit Nilson Hall in the Ravinen cultural centre, an added bonus. Although I might miss Birgit’s nice childhood garden with those tasty Rimbo Buns!
2) Parallel to your singing career, you now often teach and in different contexts…
– Yes, the last few years it has become quite a lot. Some concert organizers ask if you can stay an extra day and work with some students, and if it works with my schedule, I’m happy to do that. The last time I taught was the other day here in Madrid where I am singing in Richard Strauss’ opera Arabella. Right near the opera house and the palace is the Escuela Reina Sofia, Queen Sofia’s music school, a small one, only 150 students in all, ten of whom are singers. You only get in if you’re very good and have come a long way. I worked with four of the singers and all of them were tremendously good; talented and mature. I’m sure they can all expect to get jobs.
Last fall I was in Chicago working with the singers in the Young Artists Program at the Lyric Opera. They too are amazingly talented; Americans can really work out big, healthy voices.
3) Speaking of your role as Adelaide in Strauss’ Arabella. What’s it like working on a production directed by Christof Loy? And what do you do after that?
– We have six weeks of careful work behind us (opening 24/1). With Christof, the production is always enormously well thought out and detailed. The atmosphere is friendly and positive and you understand what to do on stage and why. There are very fine singers in all the roles, we hope and believe it will be a success. Arabella has never been performed in Madrid before, so the production is bound to arouse a lot of interest.
My next role will be the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame at the Royal Opera in Stockholm (opening 20/3). I am very much looking forward to being back on the opera stage in my home town. Last autumn I sang the old Countess for the first time in Brussels in a very fine interpretation by the director David Marton. I’m glad to have that experience in the back of my mind as we now do Pique Dame in concert form at the Opera.
Birgit Nilsson Days 6-12 August
Photo ©Ewa-Marie Rundquist