"We are like birds. Singing is in our blood. For us not to sing is
tragedy," said the tenor Roberto Alagna.
Pleasant, professional and warm-hearted were Alagna, 38, and Angela
Gheorghiu, 36, at a press conference held yesterday at the Ritz Carlton
Seoul, sometimes fielding the questions with cheerful remarks, most of
the time showing their sincere enthusiasm for music and singing.
The opera world's most sought-after duo arrived here on Friday, well
before their first Seoul concert slated for Wednesday at the Seoul Arts
Center in Socho-dong, unlike other star musicians who fly into the city
just a day or two before their concert and hurriedly depart for another
"So far everything's simply pleasant. Maybe when we start rehearsals,
then things will change,"said Alagna casually.
"For us to be here is a new adventure because we are here for the first
time. But whenever I go to a new country all over the world, I am so
impressed that a lot of young people love the beautiful art of opera.
And after seeing our performance, I hope everyone in the audience in
Seoul will feel the same way," said Gheorghiu.
As the two celebrated singers are big fans of soccer, (Gheorghiu clapped
her hands with an all excited smile when asked if they had a plan to go
to see the soccer games.) they are also trying to watch the games
currently under way on television.
"I saw the match of Korea and Poland and that was the best match I¡¯ve
seen since this year¡¯s matches started," said the French-born Sicilian
tenor who finds himself upsetting family members when he cheers for the
French team whenever there's a match between France and Italy.
Married backstage of the Metropolitan Opera Theater in New York in 1996
during an intermission of "La Boheme" with then-mayor of New York
Rudolph Giuliani officiating the ceremony, Alagna and Gheorghiu, as
individual singers and as a couple, have captured the public's attention
with their storybook romance offstage and charismatic performances
"We are so complementary in personality and in singing as well.
Everything goes ok. Sometimes something happens, such as a small
quarrel, it happens with every couple. But once onstage, I love Roberto
more than ever again," Gheorghiu said.
"We are very lucky. I see Angela as a different character everyday. She
is Juliet one night and Violeta the other night. It's like I have one
thousand wives in one," Alagna countered.
Gheorghiu, who is often honorably compared with Maria Callas
(1923-1977), does not receive critical acclaim for her artistry alone.
Some critics say the beautiful singer's success owes somewhat more to
her beauty rather than her talent.
"Maybe it's helpful. But you must have the talent, the voice. And not
only the voice, but the unique tone of voice, something new to say to
public, because we sing the songs all other singers have sung before and
are singing now. It's the unique talent to reach the public," Gheorghiu
"Every singer has her own story, character and language. I always listen
to recordings of others. As an opera singer, I never want to be
ignorant. I want to know where I am as a professional singer," she said.
To be a top singer is not without pressures, of course. But these two
confident singers are not those who step back easily.
"Voice is a strange thing. One day it's good, but the next day it's
terrible, because of an air conditioner, or because you didn't sleep
well, or because you're sad. Then who gives us this voice? I don't know.
But I know it's our mission to share it with the public," he said.
"We don't use microphones. Our body is our instrument. If you are a
pianist, you can break 10 pianos but we cannot do the same to our body.
We are in the hands of God," Gheorghiu said, conveying the heart of
singing before she and her husband demonstrate it to the public onstage
on Wednesday night.
World's most adored opera couple to meet Seoul fans Wednesday
Bae Eun-joo, Korea Herald, 9 June 2002
Often referred to as the "golden couple of the 21st century opera
world," tenor Roberto Alagna and soprano Angela Gheorghiu will meet
their Korean fans Wednesday at the Seoul Arts Center.
Since their marriage at the New York Metropolitan Opera House in 1996,
which drew worldwide attention, the musician couple has overwhelmed the
stage with their magnificent voices and dazzling appearance
"Everything is double on the stage, our emotions, of course. We're so
complimentary," Gheorghiu said in a press conference in Seoul Saturday.
"Even if we have a small fight but when we go on stage, we fall in love
once again, and we're in love much more," she said.
Being married to the international opera star is a lucky experience,
Alagna said, as he can see her in different styles from various epochs
all the time. "One night, she is Juliette, one night she can be
Violetta. For me, it's like having one thousand wives in one," he said.
The two musicians released several recordings together, including
Gounod's "Romeo and Juliette," Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi," Verdi's
"Requiem" and "Verdi per due," Massenet's "Werther" and "Manon." Besides
releasing albums jointly, the couple starred together in the film
"Tosca," which premiered at the Venice and Toronto film festivals in
Asked whether non-musical factors, such as good looks or an offstage
romance, have contributed to the couple's rise to stardom, Gheorghiu
said it is the musical talent and effort to keep the unique timber of
voice that decides the singer's career, after all.
"We sing for pleasure, passion," her husband commented. "We're like
birds. Singing is something natural, something in our blood. We may live
without singing, but it must be a tragedy."
A winner of the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award and a Chevalier de
l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, Alagna said the more he studies the details
of an operatic piece, the more he falls in love with the music and
discovers a miracle in every composition.
"I believe in artistic evolution. Each time I sing, I try to do
something different. I try to find a new interpretation all the time, a
new way to sing," he said.
Alagna, winner of the 1998 Luciano Pavarotti International Competition,
made his debut as Alfredo in "La Traviata" with the Glyndebourne Touring
Opera. The triumphant debut performance took him to major opera houses
across the world, including his La Scala debut two years later.
His earlier performance as Romeo in Gounod's "Romeo and Juliette" at the
Covent Garden in 1994 confirmed his status as one of the finest lyric
tenors of his generation. In March 2000, Alagna appeared again on the
same stage, this time alongside his wife Gheorghiu in the title roles of
Romeo and Juliette.
Born in France of Sicilian parents, Alagna has often been dubbed "the
fourth tenor," succeeding the big three, Pavarotti, Domingo and
Carreras. He, however, does not agree.
"My favorite is Pavarotti for the voice. I'm very impressed by Domingo's
repertoire and Carreras has a big heart. But we're not the same
generation. Comparing me to them is not fair for me, not fair for them,"
The couple is scheduled to appear together across the world this year on
the stages of Japan and Greece.