Talking with singers: Cristina Pasaroiu
Romanian soprano Cristina Pasaroiu fills her calendar with delicious soprano roles like Adriana Lecouvreur, Violetta (La traviata), Magda (La rondine), and Mimì (La bohème), and this season she made role debuts as Liù in Turandot at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and just last month as Manon at the Korean National Opera in Seoul. This summer, she'll bring another signature role to the Bregenz Festival, as Micaëla in Carmen.
It was a treat to talk with Pasaroiu about bel canto, Massenet's Manon, and her simple bit of career wisdom.
What do you love about singing bel canto opera? What does the style demand of the voice?
Bel-canto demands the perfect control of the breath, of the emission, of the entire body in order to play with the colors, singing long phrases, cantilenas and show the agilities in cabalettas. I fell in love with this style thanks to one of my voice teachers, the tenor Vittorio Terranova, who took care of my vocal production stressing the need to focus on the sounds in the "mask", breathing technique, dynamics, "messa di voce", pianissimos on the high notes, Italian diction and clean coloratura. My first bel-canto role was Lucia di Lammermoor, with which I graduated at the University of Music in Vienna and took some prizes at singing competitions. My dream are the Donizetti Queens or Elvira in I puritani.
What kind of woman is Manon in Massenet's opera?
Manon is a very complex role. I can describe it as one of the most difficult roles in the French repertoire and not only. It demands a lot of stamina to stay on stage almost all the time. She has 5 arias, some duets and a lot of ensembles, passing from the lightness of the first act, sensuality of the second one, coloraturas in the third one to the dramatic side of the duet with Des Grieux and then the death scene. She is a very young girl without life experience, but who also hides a very interesting personality from the beginning. She lives permanently in a fight between real love and luxury, between passion and security. I try to avoid stereotypes and fake pathos when singing this role: I try to be first of all an actress and then a singer. If you are not sincere with your feelings and intentions, you can't make Manon credible. She is just so spontaneous and sparkling, curious, passionate.
What have been some professional highlights for you? What roles or venues are still on your wish-list?
I have accumulated a lot of incredible experience on stage. I get goosebumps just remembering La Juive at the Opéra de Nice under the baton of Frederic Chaslin and alongside Neil Shicoff, or my first Leïla in Les péchêurs de perles at the Tel Aviv Opera House, the Vincent Boussard staging of Manon in Seoul, my first Liù at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Suor Angelica at the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona sharing the stage with one of my mentors Dolora Zaijick, my first Magda at Teatro Comunale Bologna and later in the staging of Rolando Villazon in Berlin. These productions have made me richer; they made me cry and laugh, they have made me the person I am today.
What do you know now about the singing career that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
That everything is relative. You have just to be true with yourself, to know where your limits and qualities are and try to be always sincere.
Why do you sing professionally?
Because I want to change something in the hearts of my audience, make them leave the show happy and different than when they came in. I would like to change a little the cruel world we are living in and confirming that giving emotions is one of the best things existing in this world. Just give love.