Soprano  Tina  Kiberg

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Tina Kiberg (soprano) trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the Opera Academy in Copenhagen. She made her debut in 1983 as Leonora in Nielsen's Masquerade and has since been with the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen, where she has sung many lyrical and dramatic roles including Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème, the Feltmarschallin in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, the Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Elisabeth in Verdi’s Don Carlos, and Ellen Orford in Britten’s Peter Grimes - just to mention a few.

Kiberg had her international breakthrough in 1988 as Agathe in Weber’s Der Freischütz in Geneva. As a Wagnerian she has sung, among other roles, Elsa in Lohengrin at the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen and in Vienna - with Placido Domingo in the title role and with Claudio Abbado as conductor - as well as in Brussels, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Zürich and Houston. In 1992 she made her Bayreuth debut as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, a role she has also sung at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. Further roles include Sieglinde in Die Walküre both in Bayreuth and at the Danish National Opera in Aarhus, and Eva in Die Meistersinger at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen and other houses.

In 1995 she made her debut at the Metropolitan in New York, and today she sings at the world’s great opera houses and concert halls with conductors such as James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

--  Biography from the DaCapo Records website  
--  Names which are links in this box and below refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website.  BD  


kiberg Though she only sang in Chicago on four occasions, Tina Kiberg managed to appear with both the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera in three different venues!  Her debut was with the Orchestra at Daniel Barenboims first concert as Music Director in September of 1991.  The gala, which was held at the outdoor Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park, included the last movement of the Symphony #9 of Beethoven, with Margaret Hillis preparing the Chicago Symphony Chorus.  Kiberg was joined by Waltraud Meier, John Frederic West, and Robert Holl.  She returned for another Beethoven work, the Missa Solemnis (which was also recorded by Erato, as shown at right) in April of 1993, at Orchestra Hall, with Meier and Holl again, and tenor John Aler.  That fall, she ventured across the Loop (the downtown area of Chicago) to the Opera House for Sieglinde in Die Walküre, with Eva Marton, James Morris, Siegfried Jerusalem, Marjana Lipovšek, and Matthias Hölle.  This was the continuation of the full Ring, conducted by Zubin Mehta, staged by August Everding, with sets by John Conklin, and lighting by Duane Schuler.  She would return when the full cycles were presented two seasons later, for Freia in Das Rheingold, with Morris, Lipovšek, Graham Clark, Ekkehard Wlaschiha, Nancy Maultsby, and Kibergs husband, Stig Andersen as Froh, as well as Sieglinde with Marton/Jane Eaglen, Morris, Poul Elming/Andersen, Lipovšek, and Matti Salminen.

It was in December of 1993 that we had a chance to sit down for a conversation between performances.  Her English was quite good, and she had no trouble making her thoughts known.

Here is what was said at that time . . . . . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:   How do you divide your career between concerts and opera?

Tina Kiberg:   It’s simple.  I would like to sing more concerts and more Lieder than I do, but I don’t have time to do it because the engagements I have with my opera singing.  I must do that, so it doesn’t leave much space for Lieder, but for now I do oratorios and so on.  So, I sing a lot of concerts of that sort, but I would like to sing more Lieder than I do now.

BD:   What is it about Lieder that grabs you?

TK:   It’s so tiny.  You can make so many small details and colors with a much smaller brush.  That’s what I like doing.

BD:   When you give a Lieder concert, is each song a tiny opera?

TK:   You might say that.  Every time I do Lieder that I’d been singing two years ago, when I sing it again I feel quite different with these songs.  I feel I just realize other depths in the songs that I didn’t see before.  So, it’s always funny to sing songs again that I’ve been singing before.

BD:   When you are getting ready for a concert, do you come with clean scores, or do you go back to the old scores with the old markings?

TK:   [Laughs]  It depends.  With the Walküre I have a new score here.  I bought a new score, but I didn’t use it because this time I chose not to write anything down.  Sometimes I would remember it better in my head without writing anything.

BD:   Do you find that each new stage director gives you new insights, and so it’s easy to remember because you
re not using the old blocking and sets?

TK:   Exactly, yes.  Sometimes it’s difficult to remember if I’m doing two different productions at the same time, but after one or two months I don’t mix it them up.

kiberg BD:   Are there any operas in which you sing two different roles?

TK:   No, not yet, but I can imagine that it must be difficult.  [Laughs]  I have been singing Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and next time I’m going to sing Donna Anna, so that’s when I have to buy a new score!

BD:    I would think the only real problem might be in the ensembles.

TK:   Yes, we will see, but I think it’s more difficult the other way round
if I started with Donna Anna and then did Donna Elvira afterbecause Donna Elvira is sort of in the middle, and has no melody.  Donna Anna has the melody, as it’s in the top, so it’s much easier remember that.

BD:   When you get involved in an operatic character, how much do you immerse yourself in the characterization?

TK:   [Sighs]  That’s difficult to measure, but I can tell you that for me it’s at least as important as the singing.  It’s so much involved.

BD:   So it all comes together, the music and the drama?

TK:   Yes, it comes so much together that I cannot take one thing away.  I cannot take the acting away and then try to sing.  If I take the acting away, I cannot sing, and if I take the singing away, I cannot act.  It’s how it is, but for me the acting is very important.

BD:   When you walk on stage, are your portraying the character or do you become that character?

TK:   [Thinks a moment]  Very often I become the character, perhaps more some other singers.  I don’t know, but I feel like a comet because sometimes I don’t remember what I’m doing.  I don’t remember where I am, and suddenly after the performance I’m completely empty.  But, of course, it’s also technique.  You also have to sing, but not all the time.  Sometimes you must forget yourself.

BD:   The technique has to be so secure that it is automatic?

TK:   Exactly!  But then there are moments when it’s so difficult and so complicated, with the tension, and with the orchestra, and with the contact with the conductor, that you have to not to jump out of the part or the role, but you have to think of your technique and not to be the character just for a moment.

BD:   Do you find that you’re distracted by the prompter, or by the conductor waving his baton, or the audience out there?

TK:   No.  I never listen to the prompter, never.  [Knocks on the table]  I must knock three times on the table because it has happened to me... Some years ago, the first big part I was singing was Tatiana in Copenhagen, and suddenly I forgot everything.  I just blacked out.  For two pages I didn’t know what to say!

BD:   So it was nice to have the prompter
s voice in your ear?

TK:   Exactly, so I must take care not to say I don’t need a prompter!  [Laughs]

BD:   He should only be there for an emergency?

TK:   Exactly.

BD:   When you’re preparing a role, do you try to prepare it in such a way that you will not need conductor and prompter and director, that you have everything inside of you?

TK:   I am always trying to, of course.  Most musicians are trying to learn the part so well that they don’t need a conductor, but of course they need a conductor.  However, they must learn it so well that they could do it without.

*     *     *     *     *

kiberg BD:   We were talking about becoming characters.  Are there any characters that you sing that are perhaps perilously close to real Tina Kiberg?

TK:   Yes, there are some parts where, as you say, I really forget myself sometimes because it is me, and I am really living in the part.  I don’t have to jump over a mountain to get into the part.  I can just go directly into the part and use everything that I have inside of me.  That happens, for instance, with a part like Sieglinde.  Then there are parts where I feel I use only one part of myself.  I would like to use other parts of myself, but that would be too much.  That would be wrong, so I have to close the door to these rooms of myself and only use one room in myself.

BD:   Does that have an influence on which parts you’ll accept
where you could use more rooms of yourself?

TK:   Yes, but it’s also the type I am.  When you look at me
tall and very Scandinavianthere are so many parts that you can see me and say, “This is Elsa in Lohengrin, or this is Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, or this is Agathe in Freischütz.  That’s why I have to sing these parts.  I also like singing them, and if not, I don’t keep singing them again and again.  I also have to find parts that are giving me something new that I can stretch myself.  That’s what I like to do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to sing Elsa.  It’s a pleasure for me, but I’m thirty-four years old and have been singing so many parts of this kind.  I also now feel I must sing parts where I can use more of myself in the acting, not only singing.

BD:   Are there some characters that you would like to sing but you can’t because they’re the wrong voice type?

TK:   [Laughs]  Yes, but that’s true for all singers.  I would like to sing Cavaradossi, but I can’t because he’s a tenor!  [Both laugh]  But, yes, there are parts that I would like to sing that belong to a more dramatic voice than I have.  I am a lyric-dramatic type of voice, but my voice is more lyric than dramatic and I must take care of that I’m not singing parts that are too heavy.  On the other hand, I would like to do a part like Tosca, for instance, and a part like Brünnhilde.  The acting and the personality would be good for them, but my voice wouldn’t like it, so not yet.

BD:   Do you see yourself eventually moving into those heavier parts?

TK:   I don’t know.  The future must decide that.  I would like to sing Isolde some time, but I can wait five or ten years.

BD:   Then you’ll try it out, perhaps, in a smaller theater?

TK:   Exactly, yes.  I’m so lucky that I now live in Copenhagen.  I always start singing a part there, and then I sing it outside afterwards.  That makes the development very nice for me because in Copenhagen the house is not so big and the stage is not so big.  It’s fine that I can start singing the part in my own house.

BD:   Do you adjust your technique at all from a small house to a big house?

TK:   No, I don’t.  I sing as I sing, and it must be enough for a big house or a small house.  If I try to sing so I’m on a big stage, I have to sing differently and then I force.  Then I would destroy myself.

BD:   Of course, but it takes some singers a long time to learn that.

TK:   Yes, it does!  Three years ago I couldn’t find the balance, and then two years ago I would try to sing with more power, and I felt it would destroy my singing.

kiberg BD:   What is it about Scandinavian singers that seems to make them so wonderfully equipped for Wagner?

TK:   I don’t know.  Denmark, Sweden, Norway are very close, so perhaps we have a bit of the same nature, and the same mentality, but perhaps not the German mentality.  We’re certainly not Italian, not like in Italy or Spain.  They have another way of singing and another temperament and another tempo.  Wagner has these very big heavy lines that are like the mountains, but Italian is much more another speed.  It’s much, much faster and has much stronger colors.  I should explain the difference between Scandinavia and Northern Germany.  There it would be softer nuances and softer colors, more equal, not so fast from each other.  It’s also slower, everything is slower and easier.

BD:   Do you feel that when you’re on stage you’re painting with the colors of your voice?

TK:   You might say that, yes.  I’m not thinking of it but now, but when I’m sitting in the chair thinking of it, that’s what I feel, yes.

BD:   Do you try to balance your career with some familiar parts and a few new parts?

TK:   Yes.  This is the second time I sing Sieglinde.  The first time was in Denmark in August and September, so it’s a new part for me.  I still sing Elsa in Lohengrin.  I love to sing it, and I sing Elisabeth in Tannhäuser.  Those are the Wagner parts I’m singing.  I’m also singing Italian parts, but in my home country in Denmark.  I love singing Desdemona, and Mimì, and Elena in I Vespri Siciliani, and Elisabeth in Don Carlos.

BD:   These are all very feminine, very womanly parts.

TK:   Yes, those are the parts that I get.

BD:   They suit your voice.  Do they suit your mind?

TK:   Yes, they do, but, as I said, I would like to try something that was also a challenge for me.  I’m singing my first Leonore in Fidelio in Denmark in March.

BD:   Will that be in German or Danish?

TK:   In German, and I’m looking very much forward to it, and not just because I’m wearing trousers.  I’m supposed to be a man, but it’s a strong woman in another way.  It’s not just a nice, soft, naïve young girl.  It’s a grown-up woman with real feelings, and this is the sort of part I like to do.

BD:   This is what I was getting at when I said you play a lot of feminine kinds of parts.  They’re often the victims, rather than being strong women who are in control.

TK:   Exactly.  Yes, that’s it.  I’m tired of doing these parts where I’m always a victim.  [Laughs]  I know that’s what I have, that it
s something from my nature that I can do these parts, but I don’t feel that I develop if I don’t do other parts, also.

BD:   Many of these parts, of course, were written fifty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty, two hundred years ago when women were more victimized than they are today.  Do these parts still speak to women today who have endured a couple of world wars and much upheaval?

TK:   Yes, they will always do that because it’s always the woman’s nature.  We cannot go from what we are.  All women have, as we say, a victim-feeling somewhere inside.

BD:   Is it a good thing or a bad thing, or just a thing?

TK:   It’s both.  It’s nature.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   Do you sing any new music?

kiberg TK:   Yes, I’ve been singing a lot of new Danish music.  I don
t know about here in the U.S., but Per Nørgård is very well-known in Europe.  That’s the only new opera composer I’ve been singing.

BD:   What would you say to a composer who would like to write something for your voice?  What advice would you give him, or her?

TK:   I would give him or her the advice not to make it too extreme.  [Laughs]  Also, not to make it too difficult to read the music, and not to make too many high notes.  They always do that, and I don’t know why.  The new composers very often make some terribly high notes for the soprano that are almost impossible to do.

BD:   They should use the top of the voice sparingly?

TK:   Yes, I think so.

BD:   [With a gentle nudge]  You don’t want to be treated like a clarinet or a flute?

TK:   No, no!  [Both laugh]  More like a violin or a viola.  I have been playing the violin myself.  For nine years I tried...

BD:   On your off night, when you’re not singing, you can go and sit in the pit and play!  [Both laugh]  [Had I thought of it, I would have suggested that she perform Help, Help, the Globolinks! by Menotti, because the lead character plays the violin.]

TK:   Yes!  I don’t have any time to practice anymore, so I never play anymore.  The last time I played, it sounded terrible, so I’ll never do that again.

BD:   You and Siegfried Jerusalem should get together for duets.  He’s a bassoon player.

TK:   Yes, and violin and piano!

BD:   Let me ask a big philosophical question.  What is the purpose of music?

TK:   Oh, I cannot answer that.  I don’t know.  I just know that for me, I couldn’t live without it.  I think that people who don’t care or are not interested in music and never listen are missing something.  Perhaps they don’t know it, but their life would be much more rich if they listened to music, or played themselves.

BD:   You have a daughter?

TK:   Two daughters, four years old, and ten months.

BD:   Will you help to bring them and nurture them into the classical music world?

TK:   I would love to, but not by force.  It comes very naturally that my daughter listens to us, and knows that we are singing.  She listens when we are practicing.  My husband is an opera singer too, and so she listens to our practicing, and to concerts and rehearsals, and she loves it.  We don’t to force her.  We never listen to opera at home, unless it’s something we have to because we’re going to learn something.

kiberg BD:   What do you listen to?

TK:   Barbara Streisand, jazz, or concerts with violin or piano, things like that.

BD:   Having children yourself, can you relate more to parents who have children, or just to other children who come to your concerts and performances in opera?

TK:   How do you mean?

BD:   What I’m looking at is how we can get more people, especially those who go to rock concerts, into the opera house.

TK:   Oh, this I don’t know, but at least in Denmark so many young people are going to the opera.  We are getting more and more young people, in fact.  Twenty years ago you didn’t see many young people in the theater or in the opera.  Now a lot of young people are interested in opera and classical music, so it has changed, at least in the north of Europe.  My daughter is often singing.  When she wants to speak to us, very often she sings it.  So, she has it in her blood.  That’s not something we try to teach her.  She just does it; she can’t help it.

BD:   She has music in her soul?

TK:   She has.

BD:   Do you feel everyone has music in their souls to some degree?

TK:   Somewhere they have, I’m sure.  If your child would like to play the piano, or dance, or anything, then you should appreciate it, and you should really try to say that it’s beautiful what they’re doing, and help to develop it.  It’s important to make it something that is important for the children.

BD:   Something special?

TK:   Yes, something special.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   You’ve made some recordings.  Do you sing differently for the microphone than you do for live performances?

TK:   Oh, I hate singing in a microphone.  I hate making records.

BD:   [Somewhat shocked]  Really???

TK:   Yes, and I hate records.

kiberg BD:   Why?

TK:   Because it’s so unnatural.  I like when you record four concerts, for instance, and from these four concerts you make a record, or a compact disc.  But to be making a recording by singing one line and doing it over and over again, and jumping here and there and mixing it all together, it’s so unnatural.  Then, normal people go and buy these, and they think that’s how opera is, and how it’s supposed to be.

BD:   The perfection of it?  [Note that the recording shown at right was made during a single concert, July 3, 1988.  Also, on the jacket of the original LP it said,
The profit from the sales of these records will be donated to IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) projects.  See my interview with Antal Doráti.]

TK:   Yes.  Then, when they go to the theater to enjoy the opera, they watch it, and the tenor’s voice is not as big, and the soprano’s might be a bit squawky, and then they think these singers are not good.  The singers they heard on their recording are much better, and that’s not how it is!  It’s not reality.  It’s much more exciting to make a live recording of the whole performance, or the concert.  I know that it’s not going to be so perfect, but it doesn’t matter.  That’s how we are.

BD:   Is this to say that you’re going to turn down offers to make records?

TK:   No, but I think it has developed to the point where it’s too perfect.  I don’t like it, and I’m scared now.  It’s not human, it’s not real, and I don’t like it.

BD:   Aren’t we getting away from reality with the video games and all of the other electronic gadgets?

TK:   Yes, we are, and I hate that, too.

BD:   We should each wear a little button that says Put Reality Back Into Your Life!

TK:   [Laughs]  That’s it!

BD:   Is opera reality?

TK:   Of course it’s reality.  It’s a mirror, but of course a colored mirror.  It must be a colored mirror.  It’s not what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror, but it’s another way to show reality, to show life so that you can stand life, and you can understand it better, so that you can understand your own life better.

BD:   Is singing fun?

TK:   I love singing when I’m not sick!  [Both laugh]  It’s terrible to sing when I’m sick.  When I
m not feeling well and I have to sing, I have to decide whether I must cancel or try to manage.  That’s terrible, and then I wish I was not an opera singer.

BD:   Do you feel you’re a slave to the voice?

TK:   Yes, I am, but when I’m fresh and all right, like right now [again, knocks three times on the table], then I love it.

BD:   Do you like being a wandering minstrel?

TK:   What is that?

BD:   A musician who travels all over the world.


TK:   No, I hate it.  I love to be at home in Hørsholm.  That’s half an hour driving from Copenhagen in Denmark.  That’s where I love to be, with my garden and my children and my husband.  I love to be on stage singing, but I hate the time that I spend in all kinds of cities, missing my family.  Sometimes, when it
s a long period, like this time (eight weeks) in Chicago, I bring my family because I cannot do without my children, and they cannot do without me.  But when I’m alone on smaller trips, that’s the only moment I have a bad conscience and a guilt feeling for missing my children.  But when I’m on stage I do forget about it.

BD:   You’re becoming the character again?

TK:   Yes, that’s it.  [Both laugh]

BD:   Your husband is a tenor.  Do you get to sing with him at all?

TK:   Yes.  I was doing my first Sieglinde with him as Siegmund.  It was also his first Siegmund in Denmark.

BD:   Is it special when the two of you can sing together?

stig andersen

kiberg Stig Andersen is one of the most sought-after heldentenors of his generation. He has sung all important tenor roles written by Richard Wagner in nearly all important theatres including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Chicago Lyric Opera, Paris Opéra-Bastille, De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin or New National Theatre in Tokyo. In the year 2012 he added Loge in Das Rheingold in London to his repertoire, so that he sung all tenor roles – except Mime - in Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Besides this, he sings a large repertoire including Herodes in Salome, the title role of Peter Grimes, The King of Naples in Thomas Adès’ The Tempest or Canio in I Pagliacci.

He works with conductors such as Christian Arming, Daniel Barenboim, Myun-Whun Chung James Conlon, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Hartmut Haenchen, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink, Neeme Järvi, Philippe Jordan, Jiri Kout, James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Schønwandt, Leif Segerstam or Franz Welser-Möst.

Among his CD and DVD recordings are Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln with Franz Welser-Möst, Brahms’ Rinaldo, Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder with Esa-Pekka Salonen and with Mariss Jansons, Sigmund in Die Walküre and Siegfried in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung as well as Tannhäuser.

As a stage director he has produced Götterdämmerung in Esbjerg, Tristan und Isolde in Copenhagen as well as Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in Odense. In summer 2013 he staged a shortened version of Der Ring des Nibelungen at Christians Kirke in Copenhagen, in which he sang Loge, Siegmund and Siegfried.

--  From the artist's website  

TK:   Yes, it is.   We found it in Otello.  We had been singing together for many years, but when singing Otello together on a tour, we had more time to talk together, and it happened.  But of course, it’s special every time we are singing together because we have a special strong contact, and that’s very nice.  People who watch tell us, and the reviews tell us that the contact is very strong on stage.  We’ve just been singing Peter Grimes together with him as Grimes and me as Ellen Orford.

kiberg BD:   In English or in Danish?

TK:   In English.  It was a very beautiful experience, and we’re going to sing Fidelio together soon.

BD:   Are you at the point in your career now that you want to be right now?

TK:   Yes, I think I am.  If it was any faster it would be much too fast.  I started singing so early, when I was sixteen, and I got my first contract with the Royal Theater in Copenhagen when I was twenty-three.  So I’ve been singing now professionally for eleven years, and I’ve been singing so many wonderful parts, the right parts, and I hope I have a lot of other wonderful parts left.

BD:   I’m sure you do.  I assume you’re booked a few years ahead?

TK:   Yes, the next two, three years.

BD:   Is it comforting to know that on a certain Thursday in June, you will be in a certain place singing a certain role?

TK:   [Laughs]  I try to forget it as long as possible, and just take one month ahead, and not more, because if I’m thinking of what I’m doing in two or three years, then I just get confused, and will say,
I can’t, it’s too much, I think I’ll cancel and stop singing.  So, I try not to think about it.  Very many parts my manager offers to me I have to say no, because I don’t want to be away.  As I told you before, I don’t want to be away for more than one long period in a year, except in the summer where I’m always now in Bayreuth singing Wagner.  Next summer will be my third Sieglinde there, and then I will only be getting smaller periods away for concerts.  I know many people will say, But then you’ll not make a big career, because you have to take engagements that are coming when they are.  But I don’t crave to make a big career.  I do what I do, and I do what I think I can afford with my feelings and with the children, so that I don’t destroy my children and the relationship to my family.  That’s number one.

BD:   Will it be easier or harder when the children are in school?

TK:   Harder, and that’s why I tell you I don’t think about what I’m doing in two, three, four years.  My daughter starts school in three years, and then it’s going to be much more complicated because I cannot bring her to Chicago, or where I might be for two months.  I cannot take her out of the school, so if anybody has very good advice for me, I’m ready to listen.

BD:   I think the only advice you’ll get will be to bear with it.

TK:   I think that’s it.  Many people will tell me I have chosen to do both, so then I must try to manage to find a balance, and that’s what I’m doing.

BD:   Did you choose to be a singer, or was it chosen for you to be a singer?

TK:   Who knows?  [Laughs]  Of course, I chose it.  I was playing the violin, but I started to hum when I was playing the violin.  I made a duet with myself, singing and playing.  [Note: Gustav Holst was apparently inspired to write his Four Songs for Voice and Violin upon hearing one of his pupils singing to herself while playing the violin in Thaxted Church.]  I was singing folk songs at my writing table when I was supposed to do my homework.  I was fourteen or fifteen, and I was singing English and Danish folk songs instead.  Then I started to sing in the school chorus, and my teachers said to me that they thought I had this voice and I had to learn something.  My mother and my father were both opera singers, but my mother didn’t want me to be an opera singer because she said that it was very hard, and only if you become a soloist, it’s fun.  If not, it’s not fun.  But when she felt that I was so involved with the singing, then she helped me to audition for the conservatorium when I was sixteen.

BD:   Will you be horrified if one of your daughters decides to be an opera singer?

TK:   No, no, I will not.  I will try to help them.

BD:   Will you have pity for them?

TK:   No!  [Both laugh]  We will wait and see what happens, and try to help.  But I will not try to help too much.  My children have to do it in their way.


BD:   One last question about singing at Bayreuth.  The sound from the orchestra comes up at you on the stage.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

TK:   It’s a very good thing.  The acoustics at Bayreuth are very good, and when I’m standing up there singing I feel that I can sing with a small tiny voice and you can hear it.  It’s very nice.  I like that very much.  The first time I was singing at a rehearsal here in Chicago on stage [at the opera house], when I saw this big audience of three thousand four hundred people in this big room, I just got so depressed.  I said,
“No, I don’t want to be here.  I will go away.  I cannot sing here.  Then I was told by the other singers that everyone reacts likes this.  The first time they come here, they get afraid and they say they cannot sing here.  But then when I was told at the orchestral rehearsals that they could hear everything I was singing, from that moment I started to trust it.

BD:   Yes, we have a good acoustic here.

TK:   Yes, that’s it.

BD:   I’m glad that someone barred the doors so you couldn’t run out!  [Laughs]

TK:   Yes.

BD:   Will you be coming back to Chicago?

TK:   I don’t know.  I hope so.  I would like to.

BD:   Thank you for spending some time with me today.

TK:   Thank you.



© 1993 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded in Chicago, on December 2, 1993.  Portions were broadcast on WNIB two weeks later.  This transcription was made in 2018, and posted on this website at that time.  My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.

Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.