Monday, December 13, 2010

Marina Poplavskaya; Verdi is so Russian! Her interview with Debra Voigt during Live in HD Don Carlo

Marina Poplavskaya and Roberto Alagna in Don Carlo
Photograph by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

One of the pleasures of the Met Live in HD is the mid-production interviews with the cast. During the live transmission of Don Carlo, Deborah Voigt interviewed Marina Poplavskaya.

Voigt began with a simple question. Why has drawn Poplavskaya to Verdi heroines?

"[He] is so Russian," she replied immediately. One can imagine the ripples of amused laughter that echoed in theaters everywhere as it did in the one in which I sat.

"Because you see the Russian composers and poets always went to Italy...We love each other; these countries." One thinks of Glinka who travelled there for several years in the early 1830s. Poplavskaya always gets the last laugh.

"I think the greatest acting challenge [in Don Carlo] is to stay calm. Verdi put in so many colors and every color is right so you have to choose right on the spot. [...] I find most of the feelings in my heart. But I must say it is not very pleasant to dig in my own trash [laughs]."

"I see [Elizabeth] as a woman. Like all Verdi heroine [she] is vulnerable, strong, and a great human being. I learn so much from Verdi's roles"

In the dramatic centerpiece of her role as Elizabeth, the fifth act aria "Tu che le vanità," Poplavskaya taught us about Verdi's colors. She taught us about endurance and grace.

"Se ancor si piange in cielo, (if there is still pity in heaven)"

She sang this central stanza quietly in F-sharp major with the high G-sharps in each line dolcissimo, as marked, and with unbroken legato line. Her sound floated.

"piangi sul mio dolore, (mourn over my sorrow)
e porta il pianto mio (and carry my tears.)"

Poplavskaya was especially gentle in these lines and connected the three note melisma on the word "porta" using portamento.

She succeeded in "staying calm." The rest of is did not. We burst into applause. Brava.


  1. You are correct, we laughed in Ashford England too
    It was really good not to have to wait for Covent Garden to revive it and it looked just as good on the Met stage
    Marina Poplavskaya was still pretty icy on stage but goodness she gave good hints of sensularity in the interview, I can see why both Villazon and Alagna fell in love with her
    The Radio 3 relay is also a delight with much less echo than the cinema sound which we all found annoying

  2. Dear Ian,
    Thanks for stopping by the Labyrinth! I am a fan of Poplavskaya even when she is icy! I wonder about the echo you mentioned. Though the sound is clearly modified it hasn't had an echo-like sound in the theaters I have visited. Most interesting.


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