"I'm a born stage animal," says opera star Waltraud Meier

18th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The German opera phenomenon will star in the Paris Opera’s new production of Alban Berg's “Wozzeck.”

Paris -- Opera star Waltraud Meier, the German mezzo-soprano hailed as much for her powerful presence as powerful voice, is back at the Paris Opera on Thursday in one of her most well-known roles.

The Opera Bastille launches its season with the 53-year-old starring until October 2 in one of her greatest triumphs -- as Marie in Alban Berg's Wozzeck.

In 1992 she portrayed the companion of poor soldier Wozzeck in a breath-taking production staged by Patrice Chereau at Paris' Theatre du Chatelet. This season's Paris production is staged by Christoph Marthaler.

Seventeen years on, did she have a new vision of the role?

"Not a very new vision, because Marie's character is quite precise," she told AFP. "She lives in a not very warm society and doesn't get the support she needs.

"I think this is a very contemporary theme as many women are in this situation."

Hailed as one of the most internationally significant Wagner singers of the times, Meier is used to lengthy roles.

Marie on the other hand is a short role that requires great concentration to give the character immediate presence on stage. "I enjoy that and know I can do it," said Meier. "As Isolde too you cannot let up even one instant."

Isolde is one of the star's greatest Wagnerian roles, in which she literally fades on stage, just as she stunned audiences by bringing blazing energy as Ortrud in his Lohengrin, or pure poison as Kundry in Parsifal.

A regular performer at the Bayreuth Festival dedicated to Wagner between 1983 and 2000, Meier has not sung there since but is ready to return. "We'll see," she said. "If something crops up that interests me, why not? Eva Wagner (the new co-head of the festival) and I know each other and get on well."

The Bavarian singer, however, says she will never take on the dramatic soprano role of Brunnhilde, the majestic female figure of The Valkyrie.

On her upcoming schedule are roles such as Geschwitz in Berg's Lulu in Berlin, and Clytemnestre in Richard Strauss' Elektra in Salzburg.

Interspersing concerts with recitals and opera, Meier is due to sing the second act of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde in Paris in November at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees before starring at the Salle Pleyel that month with a Lied repertoire, a genre she describes as "the source, the purity of song."

Retirement is definitely not on the cards.

"I think I will always be on stage,” she said. “With what, I don't know? But I'm a born stage animal and I need the stage."

Benoit Fauchet/AFP/Expatica

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