I want to change my life – I want to go into straight theatre.
After the summer Dessay is slated to sing Massenet’s Manon in Toulouse, and it could well be her adieu to the operatic stage.
I did my real début in Toulouse, in the chorus. I had started off as an acting student. That was my real passion. That is my real passion. It’s just a detour of thirty-three years—to finally get back to my first goal. There’s nothing left for me to sing. I’ve done most of the roles I could do. I don’t want to play Juliette. At my age? Please! Or Lucia or Adina or anything else like that. That’s why I’m quitting. You have to love your repertoire. For a while I thought it was fun, but no. On to something else.
Singing was not a priority but provided her with a shortcut to getting on stage.
My voice was very tiny. I had to work like a dog. But for me, it was the only way to get on stage quickly and be able to play. It was always said that I have the voice of an angel, but I’m really a witch. It’s a real problem. And the more I’m aging, the more it is a problem. Remember, I am an actress. I don’t want to play myself. I want to play other people.
She also looks for the actor in other singers, not the voice.
I hate [the coloratura] voice. I never had any problem with the repertoire. My idol is, was, and will be Maria Callas. That’s not very original, but that’s it. Also Renata Scotto. I worked with her. She’s fantastic as a teacher. I like the actresses. I don’t care about the voice. A beautiful voice in a body that doesn’t act does not interest me more than five minutes. So, I’m not a good audience member for opera.
Addio, del passato.
Photo by Simon Fowler
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.