First Alterview with the Superb Opera Singer, Marianna Ginger, where she discusses Fayrouz and Janis Joplin as inspiration for the role of Carmen, and her current take on Madame Butterfly
Marianna Ginger, the Superb Opera Singer, we welcome and congratulate you for joining us here in The Sewers. What an honour!
Oh thank you, I thank you. I am sorry, where is this? It is my fourth interview today, I am a bit, how do you say, confused.
This is an alterview.
Oh of course, of course. Thank you.
Before we begin, have you regarded the Protocol? Do you have a Safe Word?
Oh, no, I do not need things like this. I do not worry.
But you must have a Safe Word.
It is not necessary.
I beseech you.
Alright, alright. My word will be horses.
I do not like horses and I will never want to talk about horses, so it is my word.
Right. So plural? Or just horse?
Oh please, please, this is wasting my time –
Right, horses then. Great joy having you here. Please tell a bit about yourself, for those who aren’t familiar with your exquisite work.
How do I tell about myself? Should I tell about myself from the beginning?
Begin as you wish.
I thought we will talk about my taking the part of Madame Butterfly for the second time.
We can start there.
So you want me to tell about myself through Madame Butterfly?
If you could, that would be great. You’ve taken the role of Madame B-fly before, in 2007 I believe, in Italy.
Indeed, indeed. It is so very interesting to play a role you played before, it gives you a Rétrospectif, and a perspective, it is new and old, it is known and unknown, it is, how do you say, it is neu, it is fresh because you know it.
Fresh because you know it.
Yes. In 2007 I took the role of Madame Butterfly for the first time, in the La Scala –
You were triumphant –
Oh, thank you, I thank you. Today I am in Paris. It is different; the city you are in makes you different. And to take on the Madame now, I feel I see more depths in her, I give her more depth now. But on the other hand, because you ask to tell about myself, I say that Madame Butterfly is nothing like Marianna Ginger. It is a role that intellectually and – how do you say, not emotionally, mentally, yes – intellectually and mentally I am distant from her.
That’s very interesting.
I build my character on the difference and the distance between me and her. In the past I tried to see the similar between myself and the character. Emotionally, of course, I sense her, I know her, I see her, but I do not, how do you say, sympathise with her.
The character of the Madame is painfully young and naïve. It’s easy to feel for her, given her blind and true faith in the love of that American child-abducting bastard, who is kind of a paedophile, to be honest.
Haha! You speak like this…
I meant to say that she does evoke a strong sentiment as a tragic character.
Excuse me, no, no, she is not a tragic character. I do not see the tragic as naïve. The tragic is misled, the tragic is mistaken, but it is not naïve. You must separate between what we normally say ‘tragic’ about an event or a plot, and what is a tragic character. A tragic character may be misled or mistaken but the tragedy is always, how do you say, self-inflicted. The tragedy of the Madame is not self inflicted. She is not smart – that is what you wanted to say when you said naïve – she does not think.
Seems like you have some sort of a love-hate relationship with your character.
Oh but it is always like this, no?
Is it? I can’t help but to wonder why you chose to talk about yourself through a character you’re in such a conflict with.
I live these conflicts all the time, as an artist. I grow in them. And I believe what I wanted to say is that my current Madame Butterfly is very different from 2007.
As you are not the same as you were in 2007. Perhaps revisiting the Madame evokes observations and insights into how you’ve changed as an artist since.
You are very correct. Some evenings I cannot help but to think who I was when I took the stage for that same role ten years ago, sometimes I feel who I was then. Of course 2007 was not the beginning of my career. But I know better who I am now, and I feel my crowd knows better what to expect from me and who I am on stage. I was 23 when I took on the role of the Madame for the first time.
Indeed a very young age for such a demanding role. Prior to that you were the youngest opera singer to ever take on Carmen, and you did so for a long period of time, about 120 performances I believe. How old were you then?
I was only 19. It is hard to believe. I said in interviews that I desire to revisit Carmen, because there is something a little wrong in taking on Carmen at such a young age.
Oh it is – I talked about this is many interviews –
This is an alterview –
Please do not interrupt. I talked about this plenty; Carmen, she is – she is a woman, she is a woman. Are you a woman at the age of 19?
Well I guess it depends who you’re asking –
No, the answer is no.
Right. Do you feel it might have been, in a way, a misfortune for you to have taken on this role so young? You were practically a teenager.
There is no misfortune in it. It was dream coming true.
I recall you were reluctant to take the role of Carmen.
How do you recall this?
I mean I recall an interview, from 2003 I think, with famous opera singer Angelica Kraus, who was hired to prepare you for this role. She said you were fearful and reluctant, you wanted to quit altogether at some point –
Please, please, Angelica Kraus is a mediocre singer at her best –
We’re on record here –
I have no interest in what she said, she did not help me. And she was not hired to help me. This is a lie, fake news. I found my Carmen by myself. That is the only way to find her. And yes it was hard, it was difficult, I was very, very young.
That’s why I asked if you feel it might have been just too soon for you. In the sense that if you were to take on Carmen today, it would have been a far more mature and intact rendition of this complex character.
Excuse me, did you see my Carmen in 2003? Are you saying it was not intact?
No! What I’m saying is that – you said you wanted to revisit Carmen, and I can understand why, I mean yours was a triumphant Carmen, I saw parts of it on YouTube, it was – in fact – the best Carmen I’ve ever seen.
Oh, oh, I will tell you that it was a struggle. And it is not absolutely wrong to say that I was, how do you say – pushed into doing it –
Please do not interrupt. I did not feel very ready for it. And it was my first big lead role in an opera. When people see Carmen – when they see you on stage as Carmen – they do not see you. They see all the big Carmens that ever were. It is like walking naked on the stage trying on giant costumes of former singers, so giant you drown in them and disappear. The hardest thing to do is to make them see you, because they do not see you. They will compare you to every Carmen that ever was. And if you have nothing to show they will not see you but only what you are not. At the age of 19 I knew this and I decided that I would go on stage as Carmen and make them see me. Do you understand? In my mind, I went on this stage naked on the first evening, and on the third evening as well, and on the tenth evening as well. There was a part of me that said, at some point, that I do not care –
During your rebellion-fringe years, you did actually come close to being naked on stage when you did a striptease version of Pagliacci –
Please, please, I cannot continue like this! You interrupt and interrupt and there is not end to this! I wish to stop this interview!
This is an alterview –
No, I cannot continue like this!
Are you imitating my accent?
No! I would never –
This is it!
Please, Ms. Ginger, Have a drink, please.
This is very difficult for me, the way you conduct yourself. I am trying to tell a story – and I have another interview after this, and you are being very unwelcoming.
I really do want to hear about how you’ve found your Carmen. This character has always appeared to me as an Alter-Persona of some sort and what remained a mystery was the Alter-Persona of whom might she be. I’m fascinated with this character and with your interpretation of her.
Alright, alright, we do not have a lot of time because you talked so much. I will tell you this: I found my Carmen with the help of two legendary singers. The first is Janis Joplin. The second is Fayrouz. She is a Lebanonian singer in case you do not know. I love all music, you see, I love every music there is and I was searching for my Carmen in every music, and that is where I finally found her, in Joplin and Fayrouz.
I searched for my Carmen everywhere, and in every language I know. In any opera I know. Until one day I heard a song called “baatat-lak”, in Arabic. I immediately ask: who is this? What is the name of this singer?
It is known that Angelica Kraus is a huge Fayrouz fan, she even studied Arabic.
Please, I cannot – I cannot –
Right, so sorry, go on.
In short, I fell in love with the voice of Fayrouz, with her entire sentiment. There is something larger than life in her singing, this tremendous passion, this amorous singing, it was everything I wanted my Carmen to be. But I could not be like this. Perhaps I was threatened by this great confidence in her singing. I understood I can only imitate her, and I of course do not want to imitate, imitating is not acting.
Perhaps acting stems from imitation –
This is very interrupting and it is very late also –
But what about Joplin?
Perhaps some other time. My manager is calling me, you see.
Oh there is so much I wanted to talk to you about – can I ask one last question?
Please, in short.
The paparazzi shot from June of you and RockStar Dorian Phoenix –
Oh I will not, I will not cooperate with this!
So are you an item? Were you?
What is being an item? Are you an item? Are we objects? I cannot stand this tabloid language and fake news! I bid you farewell, good night, thank you.
I thank you and congratulate you here and now, Marianna Ginger.