Annalisa Stroppa is one of the most distinguished young mezzo-sopranos, having conquered the world’s most prestigious opera houses in just a few years. She studied singing at the Conservatory “L. Marenzio” of Brescia. She is a winner of various competitions, including Plácido Domingo’s “Operalia”. She made her professional operatic debut in Mozart’s La Betulia liberata at the Salzburg Festival conducted by Riccardo Muti in the 2009/10 season. This was quickly followed by leading roles, including the title role of Carmen. Her international breakthrough took place in 2011, when she performed Cherubino in I due Figaro at the Salzburg Festival conducted by Riccardo Muti. This role also led her to the Teatro Real Madrid and the Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires. Highlights of 2019-20 season include Fenena in Nabucco at the Festival Verdi Parma, the title role of La Cenerentola at the Staatsoper Hamburg, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, in Genoa, Budapest and Savonlinna, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the Philharmonie of Berlin and with the MusicAeterna Orchestra at the Saint Petersburg Philharmonia.
I am extremely happy to have the chance, throughout the 4th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine, to chat again with some great artists, already friends of our magazine since the InstaLiveInterviews we have done during the lockdown. You are definitely one of them, my dear Annalisa, one of the artists that always answers kindly and promptly to my request! Thank you again! It’s an honour! You were one of the first artists that had the chance to step again on the stage after the emergency Lockdown months, right? We know that you performed Carmen’s title role at May Festival in Wiesbaden. What was different about it compared to what you used to feel and do first before going on the stage, before the lockdown? Yes, right! I had the privilege of being the first Italian singer to return to singing live on stage and it happened on May 22nd with a reduction of Bizet’s Carmen, arias and duets with piano accompaniment and, of course, without a choir; it was an unforgettable experience, lived profoundly, that undoubtedly marked a new beginning. It was my restart in all senses, not only musically, but also personally! I was coming after a difficult period during which I had fallen into a sort of limbo, after months of deafening silence, a silence that taught me to look inside myself, in the depths of my soul.
And suddenly, this opportunity brought a ray of sunshine, I woke up from that limbo and I felt alive again, with new energy and full of hope after months of darkness. I boarded one of the very few flights available at the time with all the permits prepared by the theater and left from a deserted airport immersed in an unreal atmosphere…
You can imagine my thoughts during the flight, practically empty and then the immense joy at the returning to the theater and seeing the lights that illuminated the stage and the doors that finally could be opened to the public again; I was pervaded by a new strength and vigor, which, once I put on Carmen’s clothes and placed my foot on the stage, set fire to a brazier that had previously been dormant and literally exploded in a whirlwind of emotions that made me turn the page, making me forget for a moment the last months, characterized by sadness and pain, in which even emitting sounds had become very difficult for me.
Due to this Carmen I transformed the accumulated suffering into positive energy that I poured out on the stage, giving everything I had in my body, conveying the tension accumulated in months of forced inactivity into every single note or movement.
I went up on stage and I no longer thought of anything, I enjoyed intensely and thoroughly every single moment, fully savoring every little emotion and sensation; as if that had been my first and at the same time my last performance.
I lived everything intensely, I sang and acted as I hadn’t been for some time, in absolute freedom: I “forgot” about the technique and the movements, I let the notes and gestures flow directly from my soul and my heart! I had fun, I sang, I danced, I acted and I filled the stage with all the emotions I had inside and I became, once again, the girl who sang only for the joy of singing. The evening flew by in an instant, the theater was hit by a spell that involved us the artists and the public who, despite being composed of a few people, created a pathos and a warmth comparable to that which is formed at the inside of a theater full of people.
In fact, the initial estrangement, at the sight of a half-empty theater, with the audience adequately spaced and equipped with the now inevitable masks, gave way, at the first note of the piano, to an instant empathy and involvement that created a magical atmosphere.
And this magic flooded the whole stage. The stage was empty, no scenography, impossible interactions with colleagues (extremely important in an intense and passionate work like Carmen, but impossible considering the need to keep the distance in order to avoid the risk of any contagion), the absence of the choir and the extras, the orchestra changes, replaced on the occasion of the show by a skilled pianist. No element to which I could anchor myself and with which I could dialogue.
I understood from the first rehearsal that it would be very difficult to recreate the gypsy atmosphere of Carmen in such an anomalous context, starting from the so-called “behind the scenes”, also desolately empty: there were no assistants, make-up artists or tailors to help me, a sense of loneliness reigned in my dressing room, the same loneliness that characterized our lives in the difficult months that have just passed, almost completely deprived of contact and human warmth. Furthermore, the times for preparation and for the various changes of clothes suddenly proved to be very tight. I therefore understood that, in this great alienating context, I would have to strive to be able to convey what I had inside in another way, with small gestures, with intentions, with looks, with the power of words… And so I did, I started an introspective and research journey, clinging to the emotions and tensions with other colleagues and emphasizing those in order to give life to my beloved Carmen, albeit in a completely new guise. Very small elements have thus acquired such an exceptional strength.
The audience was really involved, they appreciated and showed all their affection, they applauded with the mask on their face, and behind that mask there was a big smile! Music did it again: even if in a different way, I was free again! Music is life, it is union, hope, serenity… this is the uniqueness and power of its universal language, which goes beyond space and time and always saves us, soothes wounds and heals our souls!
Read the whole interview here.0