Thursday, 09 April 2020 05:47

Marita Paparizou: «The opera should stop being considered as a musical theatrical genre for the few»

Interview at Rania Papadopoulou

Can the opera be presented at non theatrical places? Is it an elitist musical theatrical genre? And how much developed is it in Greece of 2020? Undoubtedly, mezzo soprano Marita Paparizou is one of the few people, who can  answer these questions. The occasion of this interview was her participation at the European Project "Opera out of  Opera", which was competed successfully some weeks ago.

Marita Paparizou explains at www.culturepress.gr all we should know about opera and her romantical journey in it, started by a tape.

-Recently you participated in the Creative European  Opera Out of Opera project. What experiences did you gain through this participation?

M.P.: The project's aim was to get the Opera out of the "walls", outdoors, out of open or closed theaters, even from other kind of  concert venues. Although the weather oblidged us indoors in Italy, in all other countries we did it : in Greece we performed in Batis, in Paleo Faliro, by the sea, in Pamplona, in Spain in an exhibition space  and in Austria, in Salzburg in a shopping center. At the same time, there were organized events at the airport in Rome and at the Metro stations in Athens. Wherever we were, it was an unique experience, people standing or sitting on the floor, others in wheelchairs, but all of them with the widest smile and the loudest applause, to remind us the power of music and the worldwide influence Opera has. You don't know what it means to watch young children while singing , who are our future audience, look at you like you're a Hollywood star! I want to believe that after these actions, at least in the places we performed, the audience in the local performances will increase.

-Can Opera be presented in non-theatrical venues?

M.P.: Undoubtedly; in 2016 we presented "Carmen", in the context of the first Mediterranean Festival of the Municipality of Kallithea, in the courtyard of Grigorios Lambrakis stadium , directed by Vassilis Anastasiou. The prestigious Italian magazine "L’Opera" published an excellent critic, entitled "Carmen urbanized and industrialized ... a Greek miracle in Kallithea", making that particular performance the reason the project's leader choose  the Greek participation. But, to go further back, I performed my first Carmen in Larissa, in Palladio, a reception area arranged properly. That production had been awarded by the Union of Greek Critics for Theater and Music as the best production of the year out of theaters.

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-Your curiculum includes very important collaborations and appearances in Greece and abroad. Which personalities and moments of your career were important for you as an artist?

M.P.: Certainly Christos Lambrakis was the first important person in my career, since I received at first from the Association "Friends of Music" the "Alexandra Trianti" scholarship, but also a personal scholarship from him for my further training in  French repertoire. My teacher in Italy, Roberto Coviello, who taught me Bel Canto, Janine Reiss in Paris, who was also Maria's last friend, who revealed to me the magic of the French Opera, and also Claudio Simone, huge conductor, student of our great Dimitris Mitropoulos, who stood by me as a real maestro in music and taught me to love  baroque. With him I performed  Vivaldi, from the original manuscripts instead from the 20th century transcriptions. With him I performed at the theater of the Champs Elysees in Paris, as a unique soloist. With him I made my first personal CD, with him I did two concerts in Greece (OMMA) and "with him" I made my devout in the Stavros Niarchos hall, with my favorite Solisti Veneti ... in his memory, as if he were there ...

-What was the trigger to get you involved with Opera?

M.P.: A tape! A tape with me singing and my failure to pass the exams for Law Faculty. While still a child, Mrs. Karkala, in Volos, listened my voice to a recording made by my father, and convinced me to start singing . The years passed by and I reached the age to stand the exams for University studies. I succeceded to pass not in Law  but in Theology Faculty  and,  in a flash, my father turned to me and said, "My child you do not belong there, go to Athens and pursue your dream in music."  How many Greek parents would do what my father did then?

-Which kind of repertoire expresses you the most, which one excites you and which one repulses you?

M.P.: I consider myself deeply Mediterranean, so I would say that I am closer to these repertoires and especially to Vivaldi and Rossini, but I also love Handel and Gluck, Bizet, Massenet, Saint-Saens, and some contemporaries , like Golijov. Now, what repulses me? I would say any "composer" who thinks he knows how to write music and doesn't respect the human voice as an instrument. Once upon a time, composers used to write on voices and today they ask singers to follow their writing, but this is not the case. That's why many of them become invisible or simply avoided by singers and theaters.

-Do you feel satisfied with the way opera is developed in Greece?

M.P.: By and large, we are fortunate to have one of the best theaters in the world, with a wide repertoire and innovative performances, but a little more baroque and perhaps an opera series by Rossini, could be necessary additions ...

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-Finally, is opera an elitist musical theatrical genre?

M.P.: The opera was created as an attempt to revive the ancient drama, which in its time was a popular genre and at the same time had an educational purpose. This is exactly how opera should be treated and stop being considered a genre for the few. Would you ever ask the same question about theater?

- The German writer Jean-Paul Richter had said that "Music is the moonlight in the dark night of life". In these difficult times that we are experiencing worldwide, what song would you dedicate to the audience?

M.P.: "Eja Mater" by Vivaldi's Stabat Mater, a prayer for all.

More info about Marita Paparizou and her career find at:

https://www.maritapaparizou.com/