This November at Melbourne’s State Theatre, Opera Australia presents the Australian premiere of Kasper Holten’s production of Wagner’s opera “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” from 13–22 November, 2018. This co-production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden will be conducted by Pietari Inkinen who will lead Orchestra Victoria and a cast of singers through Wagner’s joyful masterpiece.
Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan makes her role debut as Eva. She is a principal artist with Opera Australia and her past roles have included Mimì (“La Bohème”), Desdemona (“Otello”), Micaëla (“Carmen”), Annina (“La Traviata”), and she recently starred as the title role in the Sydney production of “Aida.”
Can you tell us a little about the story of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and your character Eva?
It’s a comedy about the relationship between artists, critics and audiences. It illustrates the tension between the new and old, tradition and innovation, populism and elitism that we see in the world today. Set in a Gentlemen’s Club in London, the story revolves around the real-life cobbler-poet Hans Sachs and the guild of mastersingers—poets and musicians who pursue their craft according to traditions and rules.
A goldsmith’s daughter, Eva, and a knight, Walther von Stolzing, fall in love, but Eva’s father has promised her to the winner in the forthcoming song contest. Walther must learn the mastersinger’s art rapidly, under the wise tuition of Sachs—and despite a challenge from the foolish town clerk Beckmesser. Eva goes on a journey of change. She grows from a young school girl who does everything her father says into a strong and independent woman, like Princess Jasmine, but instead of a Prince (Meistersinger) she falls for her Aladdin (Walther) who must find a way to be worthy for her hand in marriage.
To describe “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” as an epic opera is an understatement. How are you preparing for a six-hour long performance?
I don’t believe I have ever worked this hard to prepare for a role. German is very new for me, and this will be my German role debut, so performing a six-hour opera is a great introduction into this repertoire! The perfect construction of music, the depth and intensity of the characters and being the only comic opera ever written by Wagner stands to justify why it is indeed “epic.” Its ability to explore such topics we encounter today with very human and relatable characters makes this such a magical and genius piece of opera. When it all comes together with the awe-inspiring imagery of the sets and costumes, it truly illustrates the creativity and magic that Wagner has created.
What do you think is the biggest challenge with the role of Eva?
Singing German in this style is very different from anything I have previously performed. The style of the language and music is new and exciting and awakens your entire being, just getting used to this new format is a challenge in itself. But as we start rehearsing the role it will all meld together and become inherently fluid and natural. I’m sure I’ll come across more challenges once we get to opening night!
Do you have a favourite
moment in the show?
My favourite moment thus far would have to be the quintet at the end of the Opera. It’s so sublime and serene yet so powerful at the same time. I also love when Eva has her little outbursts every now and then showing off her frustrations with men!
Is there any difference or it is easier/harder to sing in German, rather than say, Italian?
I would have to say German is harder for me personally as I am more of an Italian Soprano who loves her Verdi and Puccini. My experience has already programmed my body and soul to act and react to Italian music and the language, it just needs to be programmed in a different way to execute the German. But I’m a very hard worker and I will do my best with the guidance and wisdom of my coaches at Opera Australia to do this role the justice it deserves. There are somewhat similarities in the poetic use of the language that is in both, thus making it easier to memorise, especially when she sings so many words per minute, albeit in short periods, but still challenging none the less.
You recently starred as Aida at the Sydney Opera House. What was that like?
Making my debut as AIDA at the Sydney Opera House was one of the greatest moments in my life. A whirlwind of emotions filled my entire being for the entire run of the Opera and just the swarm of love and support I received was a true blessing. It was always such a big dream to perform that iconic role and I was truly honoured to be given the opportunity and the responsibility to perform my very first title role.
In between your performances, is there anything you are looking forward to seeing/doing in Melbourne?
The one thing I love doing in Melbourne is walking. There is always so much to see and always a new restaurant or café around the corner I need to try out. Also, if there is a ComiCon or Superhero Convention … I’ll probably go to that!