Second Alterview with Superb Opera Singer Marianna Ginger, where she exposes shocking decision and avoids questions regarding RockStar Dorian Phoenix
Marianna Ginger, the Superb Opera Singer, we welcome and congratulate you for joining us in The Sewers! What an honour!
Critiques are going rampant praising your Madame b-fly, it’s applauded everywhere, what a triumph!
Yes, I come now to tell something for the first time in public.
What? A scoop?!
Yes, yes, if you wish to call it this – fine. I want to tell this. In November 11 I will be Madame Butterfly for the last time.
There are many reasons for this. I want to say first of all that I very much appreciate everyone involved in this outstanding production in the Palais Garnier, it is an incredible institution, very professional and with very talented and excellent people, I could not ask for more. Except some differences I had with certain people there, it is a great home for the arts –
With whom did you have differences?
It does not matter. Does it matter? It does not matter.
Last time we talked, you seemed a bit half-hearted about currently taking on the role of the Madame. Were you already thinking of quitting then?
No, no, I did not think too long about it, I just came to a decision. I decide very quickly.
What made you come to this decision?
I very much wanted to bring another perspective to the Madame. I had a thought of making the Madame more – how do you say – more aware of her naivety, more déchiré inside herself. It is something in the tone and manner I chose to sing the ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ aria and in some choices I made in scenes with Pinkerton, it was something very different –
Your current interpretation of ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ is considered genius, the “Rideaux de L’opera” praised it as revolutionary –
Yes, yes, but perhaps that is not what people who come to see Madame Butterfly truly want?
The Palais Garnier’s Madame b-fly is fully booked until March 2018!
Yes, well, I had some differences –
I appreciate you trying not to be bellicose about it, but pray tell, who was it in production that didn’t understand your phenomenal rendition of the Madame? It’s unheard of!
This is not relevant, please –
Were you asked to leave?
What? Asked to leave? You really ask – ? Of course not! I came to my decision. Asked to leave? Hah!
Well it seems to be the only answer –
Fine, fine, I will tell you. I had differences with myself about taking on this role. And also the make-up and costume personnel. It was really unprofessional but I do not wish to speak about this. I desire something different now. This very intense work of finding a different, new side to the Madame made me want to be involved in more, how do you say, spacious projects where I can truly influence and mould my character.
That does mean you’re going through another fringe phase?
Oh, this is – haha! – I wouldn’t call it –
This must have something to do with your last visit to London in late July, and that paparazzi shot of you and RockStar Dorian Phoenix in Highgate –
Please, please, this is unbearable –
It was a really great photo of you by the way, you look great in skinny jeans –
Please, I am ignoring this. I wanted to tell about my decision –
So sorry, please –
I will tell you this, I did not feel I am doing the best I can do. I did the best, but I did not feel the echo of it, I did not feel it was echoing enough. It is true that the opera world is conservative. There are always changes, but still, in such grand operas, there are norms, standards, there is a code you must follow.
You’re the best opera singer in the world, you’re expected to perfect these norms, and then to alter them.
Yes, this is what I do. I desire to find the other ways to sing what was sung, this is a very delicate attention to the music and to its intention.
I can’t help but to think about your rendition of Solveig’s Song.
Oh – oh –
You were only 17 when you preformed it; I think it was in Vienna –
It was your great breakthrough. The great conductor Pier Montrablaue could not get over your performance.
Oh – he said, I remember this to this very day; he said that when he listens to a good opera singer, he wants to hear her in an empty room, to see if she can fill the space. And he said that when he listens to a great opera singer, he wants to hear her singing something else right away. If she sang Carmen, he wants her so sing Riggoleto, if she sang the Barbiere di Siviglia, he wants her to sing Aida. When I sang the Solveig’s Song that night, he said he wanted nothing more that to just hear me sing it again, and again, and again.
And that’s when he realized he’s listening to an extraordinary opera singer.
I was only 17!
What was it about your performing Solveig’s Song?
Well as you know, Edvard Grieg wrote it years after the death of his baby daughter. He was in grief for years. He was not happy with what he composed in the years after his loss. Then one day Ibsen asked him to compose a song that is like a lullaby and elegy. Think about it: lullaby and elegy as one. This stirred something in Grieg. It stirred something in me. This is a song of farewell. This is a song that is full of hope for the return of the loved one, who would not return. There was something in me back then that could not sing this naively, although it is a naïve song. Most singers choose to sing it as lullaby, I insisted it to be more of an elegy than a lullaby. In the last two lines, about the meeting again in the heavens, I gave them such a dark, such a hopeless tone, a really hopeless, how do you say, demeanour, and I think that made it so unforgettable.
To sing a song of hope and anticipation without hope.
There is great depth in it –
Thank you, I thank you –
It is in many ways such a mundane experience, that is, the keeping of faith, and in that performance you brought up that sneaking suspicion, or recognition, that our hope is always hopeless, and it was as if you were expressing it against yourself, like some unknown knowledge sang through you. It was a haunting performance.
Yes, thank you, that is what Pier said, this is similar to what I tried to do with Madame Butterfly.
And critiques absolutely love it.
But it’s still not satisfying to you.
No, no, because they did not fully understand it, that is how I feel. And I perhaps was not fully in peace with it. You compare my Solvieg’s Song to the Madame, but it is not true. What I added to the Madame was not désespoir, it was a line of sarcasm, of moquerie, of ridicule, of the character towards itself.
Last time we talked about this love-hate relationship you have with the character of the Madame.
It is not that, it is not about the way I see the character, I wanted it to be something within the character, and I felt that I did not have a lot of space inside this character to fully express what I desire. I desire something different now, that is what I feel, and I decided it is now time.
So what’s in store for you now?
Back in 2011, when I was in the Fringe Opera Group in Berlin, London and Budapest, I felt what I want to feel now. People said we were parodizing opera, making a mockery of it. That is simply not true, fake news. We were doing a different perspective of opera.
That’s exactly what parodizing is, in my view: accentuating the outlines, the qualities of a work of art that come to life from a different, new perspective, that is sometimes the only way to make them noticeable.
Yes, it is in many ways like being in an alterview, I think now.
It is in the understanding of a characteristic, a very deep understanding of one characteristic at a time, that can allow you to really, how do you say, to really give it a voice. This does not have to become parody, but this is the first step into parody. I think this is the gate to avant-garde, a gate to art that is more complicated and more interesting and challenging.
You seem to have a great appeal to the fringe world, which is somewhat surprising given your status in the opera world.
This must have something to do with your relationship with Dorian Phoenix.
Please, please, this is not relevant –
So it’s true?
I do not wish to discuss this.
Right. Last time we talked you spoke about your inspiration for Carmen. You spoke about Fayrouz but not about Joplin. What was it about Janis Joplin that helped you find your Carmen?
Oh, this, yes, I said Fayroyz was intimidating for me because she is so great and confident, and that I did not want to imitate her, because when you build a character you do not want it to base on imitation alone –
Although imitation is a basic form of understanding others.
Yes. There’s a story of Edgar Allen Poe, “The Purloined Letter“, where the character of Dupin tells of smart child, who can win all his opponents in game. When he asked the child how he does that, the child said that he imitates the facial expressions of his opponent, and when he does that, he knows exactly how his opponent thinks and feels.
But it is not enough. Acting is not a mind game. It is the art of being inside yourself and outside yourself, it is the art of knowing yourself, what you can be and what you cannot. I could not be Fayrouz, no matter how much I wanted to be her.
But you could be Joplin? You know, you really do have a rocky side about you –
No, I could not be Joplin either. Fayrouz was so grand, that she would walk off the stage the same way she got on it. And Joplin was so grand, that she would not. She will die on stage because her singing can consume her. I wanted my Carmen to be consumed on the stage, but I did not want to lose myself with her. So I said to myself: my Carmen will imitate Fayrouz at some parts, but inside myself – inside Carmen – I must remember that I will not walk off the stage the same way I got on it. My Carmen died because she failed to fully imitate a Carmen that does not die. There was Memento Mori in my Carmen all the time. And it was the memory of Janis Joplin.
I’m in awe of your artistic insights.
Oh thank you, I thank you.
It is known you’ve always been drawn to various types of music, but it wasn’t clear to me up until now how you incorporated them so deeply in your work. Surely the company of musicians is very fruitful for you.
Well, yes, but –
How do you feel about Rats at Dinner? Do you enjoy this kind of music?
Well, yes, it is very – but it is late now. And you see, my manager is calling me –
Of course. One last question, do you know where you’ll be come November 11? Once you bid the Garnier farewell as Madame b-fly?
Oh, I – there are many options. I will need to decide. I decide quickly, so I do not worry.
Can’t wait to talk to you again, Ms. Ginger. We thank you and congratulate you.
I thank you, goodbye.