Ramona Zaharia: When you step on this stage & you not only receive approval, but also long applause from the audience for me this a dream come true.

The Romanian mezzo-soprano had her first international contract as Carmen on the big open air stage of the Opera Festival St. Margarethen Austria in 2012, where she immediately assured this role as a great succes. Since then she sang it in more than 15 different productions of Carmen. Her repertoire containes roles such as Eboli (Verdi’s Don Carlo), Fenena (Verdi’s Nabucco) Dalila (Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila) Amneris (Verdi’s Aida), Ulrica (Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera), Erda (Wagner’s Rheingold), Dinah (Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti), Maddalena (Verdi’s Rigoletto), Principessa di Bouillon (Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur), Federica (Verdi’s Luisa Miller) and of course, her signature role, Carmen from the Bizet’s masterpiece, Carmen.

Dear Ramona, it was a huge pleasure to meet you at Teatro Regio di Parma and Teatro Valli di Reggio Emilia for Carmen, the production of Silvia Paoli. This was also your debut in Italy. How does it feel to perform in places with such an important heritage for the opera genre? What does this debut mean to you?

Dear Bianca, it was a joy for me to meet you in Parma and in Reggio Emilia. The emotional charge was huge when I performed on stages where years ago “sacred monsters” of the lyric genre performed and I am referring to Mario del Monaco, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Renata Scotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Carlo Bergonzi… Teatro Regio di Parma is considered by opera enthusiasts to be one of the true homes of the great Italian tradition and the public is very well informed and is renowned for its voice of approval or disapproval. When you step on this stage and only receive approval, but also long applause from the audience, for me this is a dream come true.

You performed this role many times in your career, in different productions, but Silva Paoli had a very specific idea about her main characters, Carmen and Don Josè. How was this Carmen special from all the others and how did you feel performing this Carmen?

Silvia’s inspiration is Prosper Merimee’s own novella, where it all begins with the end, after Don Josè’s murder of Carmen and his imprisonment, and the unfolding of the future action is only in his mind. In this staging Carmen is a ghost, a memory, a fatal obsession. My wish was that my character should become very well defined visibly dominant seductive but at the same time the audience should not forget that I am the fruit of Don Josè’s troubled and sick mind mixing memories and imagination. I thought of the whole thing as a dramatic role in a play not an opera role, a challenge that brought me much joy.

Read the entire interview here, in the 4th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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