Jiří Rajniš: My inherent sense for guiding me forward and helping me make the right judgments is the last thing that has never let me down. The most crucial element, though, is to live my life completely independently in every way.

He studied first drama-acting at the Prague Conservatory and afterwards opera singing at the prestigious UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in the class of Vladimir Chernov in Los Angeles. In the meantime was taken to “The coaching program” by Metropolitan Opera ́s accompanists and covered Belcore in Martina Arroyo Foundation. He has been a member of Junges Ensemble at the Semperoper Dresden (2017-2019), where he performed under conducting batons of Christian Thielemann, Alan Gilbert, John Fiore, Stephano Ranzani, Giampaolo Bisante, Daniele Callegari, Antonio Fogliani to mention few. Or collaborations with stage directors (Willy Decker, Calixto Bieito, Vera Nemirova, Brigitte Fassbaender, David Hermann) and others. As a fixed guest creates especially leading roles at The Prague State Opera / National Theatre in Prague and his guesting includes almost all opera houses and concert halls in Czech republic and Slovakia, where he sings the world-wide and czech repertoire as Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Ford, Bohuš, Count Luna, Germont, Jonny spielt auf, Sharpless, Shaunard, Escamillo and many others. His new successfull appearances in 2022/2023 are at Teatro Lirico di Cagliari – Escamillo, Luzerner Theater – Eugene Onegin or Teatro alla Scala – First Nazarener in Salome (Zubin Mehta and Damiano Michieletto) and Gamekeeper in Rusalka (Tomáš Hanus and Emma Dante). Jiří Rajniš ́s international carrier started at Sommer Oper Bamberg 2013 as “Youngest Czech Don Giovanni abroad”… After that went immediately to the first fixed german engagement at Landestheater Coburg , where he spent four seasons (2013-2017) and sung wider range of the opera, operetta and musical repertoire. For example Herr Fluth, Shaunard/Marcello, Peter Besenbinder, Count Almaviva, Freddy in My Fair Lady, The Death in Savitri, Fréderic in Lakmé, Harašta in The Cunning Little Wixen and many german Liederabends to mention few.

Mr. Jiří Rajniš, meeting you through this interview is a real pleasure. You are an active presence in the international opera scene, and here I mention the numerous performances, which we will discuss in a moment. First, we would like to know how you chose the stage?

Thank you very much for the chance you offered me to be interviewed by Charm magazine. The pleasure is also on my side. I wouldn’t be able to claim that I chose the stage, but I was sort of born on the stage. It has been somehow given to me, and I cannot imagine a different life. We all have a great privilege in art, and I am so appreciative that God has placed me on stage so naturally. But my parents are the key reason why I selected the stage! I come from a musical household. Both my mother and father began their careers as opera singers at the same theater. They performed in many productions of opera, operetta, and musicals. I was born in a small city called Opava (their first fixed engagement). In a sense, everything started there. As a child, I used to spend a lot of time at the theater with my parents, attending numerous rehearsals and performances. I acted out my father’s roles in productions, such as: Rigoletto, Nabucco, Conte di Luna, and so on. I also played for my grandma in her living room, matching and styling outfits and using her furniture and other items to create decorations. I fell in love with the theater, very quickly. I like stage design, as well as costume design. I’ve been obsessed with opera since I was 4 years old. For instance, I know every role my father has performed since I was a young child. Now that I do his tasks as a professional, learning and remembering them is quite simple for me, and I have his scores, already marked.

You studied first drama-acting and afterward opera singing. Today you combine both very beautifully on stage in the roles you play. Why are you in love, particularly with theatre and opera?

Certainly, I had other ambitions after finishing elementary school, such as becoming a pilot or a soccer player or attending high school. I would say that I was a typical young boy, yet throughout those years, opera, theater, and music were all around me. I had the thought, as I was completing the seventh grade of elementary school, that I might try acting first and, perhaps, a little later, I should try to follow in my parents’ footsteps and pursue a career as an opera singer, while also enrolling in classes at the Prague Conservatory. My father actually came up with this idea, because he was the expert and understood that I should have waited, since I was only 14 or 15 years old. I was, therefore, successfully admitted into the Drama-Acting class and decided not to transfer to the singing department after two years. Why? Because the atmosphere and the relationships I made in the acting class meant more to me. I, therefore, earned my degree as a theatre actor rather than an opera singer. Since you now need this quality to be a full artist, I view this choice as the most significant one I have ever made. Today’s opera is frequently directed by drama or even film directors. Pathos, clichés, and archaic practices no longer go together in art. Even though it may seem quite challenging to opera singers, those things must be adjusted. I am quite appreciative that I am able to mix opera with acting, which is thought to be my strongest quality. This is appreciated by the critics and the public, they recognize my quality of interpreting very well. 

Read the entire interview here, in the 8th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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