Mezzo-soprano Geneviève Després is most welcome on Canadian, American and European stages not only for her talent as a vocalist but as an actor as well. She will be the guest artist at the Daniel Myssyk directs Mozart’s 41st concert which will take place on October 29, 2013 at the Salle Pierre-Mercure. On this occasion, she will perform Respighi’s lyric poem II Tramonto.
What does Respighi’s II Tramonto mean to you?
Il Tramonto means sunset in Italian. It’s a very romantic work, written by an English poet at the end of the 19th century. It’s a story where the beauty of nature, love, drama and death are intertwined. Respighi’s music does a wonderful job of describing all these different states. We hear the flowers and greenery bursting under the sun, the fog lifting, the night falling as the sun disappears. We accompany the two young lovers on their night of love, which ends in the morning, the lover lying dead in the lady’s arms. Years later, we see the reddening veins on the ghostly white hands of the lady, who waits only for her own death so that she can be at peace again.
How did you discover singing?
I had always been told I had a beautiful voice. I was the one who sang the loudest at scout camp and the shows at the end of the year. I also loved the theatre, and at twenty, I took singing classes for fun. My teacher told me that I could study voice. I didn’t know what that really meant, but I auditioned and went to CEGEP in the music program. There, I discovered music, its history, opera and that was a real revelation.
Describe your relationship with opera.
Singing opera requires a very specific technique and breath control. Each person has a unique instrument inside his body. I often compare the voice to cars: some people have very agile little sports cars, but I have a slightly bigger model. Lots of power but not so easy to handle. My training was long and sometimes difficult. On the other hand, this instrument inside, which reflects our emotions, has taught me a lot about myself. I still learn every time I work on a piece, for power, through the accentuation of a word, through a vocal colouring, through a phrasing, to express the sentiments within the work.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
In the wings, when I look at the stage on which I will stand in a few seconds, inwardly, I connect to the pleasure that music gives me, I thank life for letting me share these fleeting moments of grace with the other musicians and the audience.
Who is your favourite artist/composer and why?
Right now, it’s Respighi! I tend to fall in love with each work that I perform. The work becomes the focus of my daily life; I’m inhabited by the harmonies specific to each composer and the characters and texts haunt me. I often dream of them at night!
In your opinion, what role does music play?
It touches the heart, engages us and elevates the soul.