Saioa Hernández: I hope that soon we can return to reopen to the public, even in a reduced form, always in safety. I hope a vaccine will be found soon and this nightmare will be over.

Saioa Hernández has distinguished herself as a new opera star since her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the opening of the season as Odabella in Giuseppe Verdi’s «Attila», the prestigious December 7th, 2018, conducted by M° Riccardo Chailly, directed by Davide Livermore and broadcasted internationally, live on TV and cinema with great success. Throughout her career, she has performed roles such as Maddalena di Coigny in «Andrea Chenier», La Wally, Suor Angelica, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Giorgetta, Nedda, Aida, Francesca da Rimini, also the great bel canto and Verdian roles such as Norma, Imogene, Zaira, Violetta, Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda, Leonora from «Il Trovatore», Amelia from «Un Ballo in Maschera», Luisa Miller, Mathilde from «Guillaume Tell» and many other roles, on the most important stages of the world. Saioa Hernandez’s upcoming engagements include her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in the role of Tosca, her return to the Dresden Semperoper as Odabella in «Attila», the New Year’s concert and debut at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino together with Tezier, Álvarez and Furlanetto, conducted by M° Armiliato, the return to Covent Garden (ROH) as Tosca, a concert with M° Domingo in Baden Baden, the return to the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid in a recital together with the tenor Francesco Pio Galasso and the pianist Vincenzo Scalera, the debut in the role of Giselda in «I Lombardi alla prima Crociata» at the Opera of Liege (M° Oren) and the debut of the role of Leonora in «La forza del Destino» at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, conducted by M° Metha. She perfected her vocal skills under the guidance of Santiago Calderón, Vincenzo Scalera, Renata Scotto and Montserrat Caballé, but currently she studies with her husband, the tenor Francesco Pio Galasso.

Dear Saioa, it’s an honour to have you on the cover of the 7th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine and, of course, it was an enormous pleasure to have the chance to meet you in Milan during the performances of Aida, in October. I am sorry, though, that we have to talk again about cancellations and a possible second lockdown, so let’s try to bring some beautiful emotions in the light. Please, tell us about the feelings of this return of yours on the stage of La Scala with such a role, such a cast, under the baton of M° Chailly, after the hurtful lockdown, and about what unfortunately happened with the last performance. 

I felt like I was in a small oasis in the desert. I was very lucky to be able to sing in several places right after the first lockdown, concerts and productions: Caserta, Verona, Madrid, Berlin and Milan, one of which in stage form (Un ballo in maschera) and the debut at Teatro Real in my beloved city, Madrid. Working with Meastro Chailly is always a pleasure. In this case, we were all very excited to return to La Scala and this feeling created a very special atmosphere among us, but also between us and the public, who was very enthusiastic. This version of Aida is a particular one, because it takes away from you one of the most beautiful and intimate scenes of Verdi’s heroine, yet certainly the most awaited aria, but it gives us the opportunity to be able to listen to its most original version, which makes Amneris the absolute protagonist of the entire piece. The last performance was cancelled due to the regulations that had just come into force after the infection of one of the cast members. That was the current legislation at the time and the whole cast was subjected to quarantine, remaining in Milan for another 10 days after the last contact. Fortunately, the theater reacted immediately and we were all fine. Some of us positive, but asymptomatic, and the rest of us, negative. The important thing is to stop only if it’s necessary to do it. To continue to comply with the safety rules, but, if possible, not to stop the entire activity. We know there is a risk that we are assuming (we, artists, are the most exposed), but it is worth it if we can work and, looking at the positive side of things, we were able to do 4 out of the 5 scheduled performances.  

What are the insights of your history with Aida, though? How do you feel vocally in this character? What are the moments that give you the greatest satisfaction or, instead, make your forehead sweat a little – the secrets behind the perfectly prepared stage execution?

Actually, I haven’t had many opportunities to perform this role. I had my debut in Oman, with Teatro Regiodi Torino, alongside Anita as Amneris, conducted by Maestro Noseda. I only had one performance, with only one piano rehearsal before the dress rehearsal. Too little for a debut, but sometimes opportunities come like that. Meastro Noseda helped me a lot and I felt great, anyways. 

Read the entire interview here, in the 7th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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