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[Herald Interview] Damrau and Teste to bring royal dramas to Korea

By Park Ga-young

Published : April 23, 2023 - 15:34

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Diana Damrau (Lotte Concert Hall) Diana Damrau (Lotte Concert Hall)

German opera singer Diana Damrau will returned to South Korea with a tour titled "Royal Affairs – Kings and Queens of Opera" together with her husband, French opera tenor Nicolas Teste.

The program introduces a selection of arias of the most famous kings and queens in opera.

“What is really interesting to see is what happens behind or under the crown. We see and feel these men and women struggle with their feelings and normal private human problems like we all do. Some composers really show their souls and heartache between all the pomp and loneliness of the crown,” Damrau said in an email interview last week.

The couple will perform with the KBS Symphony Orchestra, conducted by singer-conductor Pavel Baleff.

Damrau will perform songs from her established repertoire, as well as new pieces such as “Bel Raggio Lusingher” from Rossini's "Semiramide," Maria Desislava’s Prayer and “Veliki Bozhe, Chui Moiata Molba,” an aria from Oarasgjev Hadjiev’s opera “Maria Desislava.”

Teste will present Roi Claudius’s aria "Je Tremble et Soupire" from "Hamlet," and Soliman's recitative and cavatina from "La Reine de Saba."

Together they will present the duet "Oh Mio Buon Talbot!" from “Maria Stuarda.”

Nicolas Teste (Lotte Concert Hall) Nicolas Teste (Lotte Concert Hall)

Damrau, who is known for her role as the Queen of the Night, explained that she hasn't performed the role as frequently since 2008. Her performance of “The Magic Flute” in David McVicar's production at London's Royal Opera House in 2003 has rendered more than 50 million views on YouTube since it was uploaded in 2017.

She believes it's a role that is suitable for a specific period of time, and that depends on how a singer's voice and career develop.

“With the possibility to sing major roles in belcanto (singing style), I chose to stop performing this extremely challenging role -- like a hundred meters race at the Olympics -- and concentrate on the future and growing,” she said.

“In the future, I will put more emphasis on the Strauss repertoire I want to sing and act in my mother-language and bring joy," Damrau said. "But Lied, Operetta and Mozart and belcanto-roles will stay in my repertoire.”

The soprano spent some time reflecting on what she really wants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Life brings with it a lot of different stages from which we grow out and grow into. This is just natural. I have to go with the flow and also with what my mind is ready for,” she said.

The Damrau-Teste performance will take place on May 18 at Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul. Tickets prices range from 110,000 won to 300,000 won.