Superb Opera Singer Marianna Ginger talks about her new opera and discusses exceptional choices made in her new interpretation of Madame Bovary on stage
Superb Opera Singer Marianna Ginger, welcome back to The Sewers! You’ve been missed!
Oh thank you, thank you.
It’s been about nine months since you’ve been here last!
Oh yes, time moves very fast, sehr schnell! I am, of course, very busy.
You premiered with your new opera, that was written especially for you, this October. And it’s sold out until May, of course.
Of course, yes!
Well tell us about it!
It is the new opera Madame Bovary, written by Otis Todenhöfer and Delphine Roux, and, so, it is of course a very dramatic story! A very gewaltig story, a very, how do you say, well it is just a very big story and a very big character, and it is still hard for me to believe just how much I am inside this story and this character that is very, how do you say, iconic. It is a story with many interpretations, with many disagreements about it. That is how you know when a creation, when a Schaffen, is truly good. truly art.
Are you talking about Flaubert’s novel or the opera?
Oh, about the novel. about the story. There are a lot of films based on this story, and our opera about it is not the first, but it takes a very different Standpunkt. I will explain, but you, you read this novel, yes?
Good, and also not good! Because there is a very conservative Standpunkt about this novel, that Emma Bovary, she simply read too much romance novels and tried to live an impossible fantasy, and she did not see that she is married to a very nice man and she has a very nice daughter and she is trying to live in this fantasy and this brings the disaster of her and everyone around her.
Yeah, that’s the high-school literature teacher’s interpretation.
Yes, yes. A failed Bildung, a Misserfolg. But in our opera, we see it very different, very new. You see, Charles, the husband, and all the men in the story, they are the ones who live in a fantasy. They, how do you say, project their fantasy on Emma, but she, she is real. It is – yes, she is very silly with the romance novels she read, yes, but she is really feeling it, she is really feeling love. It is the men around her that do not feel love, that fail to feel love like her.
This interpretation pretty much takes Emma’s viewpoint on the dull world she lives in and turns into a way of understanding the novel itself.
Yes, it is very interesting. I think what kills Emma, what makes her die, is when she understands that the words she uses – she means, always, every word she says, she means very, very deeply – when she understands that others use the same words without meaning them at all. when she understands that using words, that language, is really not working. This is a very deep idea for me as an artist, as a Künstler. And this idea is of course very difficult to put on stage. For me, as Emma Bovary on the stage, I need to mean my words stronger than anyone else, I need to show the essential, the wesentlich contrast between her use of language and everyone else. Like the part of Rodolph, for example, he just says the words and does not mean them, but also, at the same time, he is not lying. He is not lügner. It is very difficult, very delicate acting, a lot of, how do you, nuance.
Yes. Of course. thank you. This opera is very exceptional because of this interpretation. It was very good writing. To let Emma be a tragic heroine without ridiculing the character of Charles, which was a big temptation!
Were you involved in the writing?
Yes, a little, yes, it was important for me because it was written for me and I wanted to truly understand this Emma, this specific Emma. I let this character influence me very deeply. The more we talked about it – me and Delphine and Otis – the more my understanding of the character lead the opera.
I recall we once talked about how all big classical opera heroines end up dead, one way or another, and Emma Bovary is no exception. What do you make of this, in the context of other operas?
Oh. yes. Very interesting. Very interesting question. I think the death of Emma is exceptional, it is not heroic, it is not romantisch, and also, it’s not the last scene. It was important for us to show Monsieur Homais in the last scene, on one side of the stage, and mourning Charles on the other side at the same time, because, I think, these are two ways to think about her death and her story. I think of this death differently than I think about other heroines deaths. I think, it is not a, how do you say, a conclusion, it is an invitation to think about life and love and language. Is that not what every piece of art meant to do?
Indeed. It is however peculiar that, although the libretto is French, the opera has premiered and is showing in Berlin.
That is not peculiar.
Is it peculiar when Carmen is showing in Italy?
No, well of course not, it’s just that this is a new opera and you’ve had the option of premiering in Paris.
For now, I prefer Berlin. I feel I am in a place where I belong and I am fulfilled.
We wouldn’t wish you anything else.
Oh thank you, thank you.
We thank you and congratulate you and worship you, Marianna Ginger.