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MN: I understand you got married recently.

VG: Massimo Patella and I got married eight months ago. He is an Italian hydraulic engineer, not a singer, but he has many different interests. For example, he's a sommelier and he is also the President of a music school where we live, which is near Venice. We don't live in the city but in a very small town on the mainland where everyone knows everyone.

I like being there because they all know that I am a singer, and that I'm weird. [She says that with a hearty laugh.] I don't like to be a diva when I'm not on stage. Even when I am singing I don't like the possible diva aspects of this job. I prefer the honest work that you get to do as an actor and a vocal technician.

MN: I think being a diva has gone out of style.

Vivica Genaux in the title role of 'Rinaldo' at Festival Radio France in Montpellier. Photo © Marc Ginot
Vivica Genaux in the title role of 'Rinaldo' at Festival Radio France in Montpellier. Photo © Marc Ginot

VG: There are some who do it, even some who hold on to it as hard as possible. I also think there is a segment of the audience that likes it that way. Many people are still fascinated by Maria Callas. There probably was a necessity of being a diva at one time because of the rivalry that existed between singers. It may have been crucial to have protective walls as a defense mechanism. I think a lot of diva behavior has its roots in insecurity and, perhaps the need to protect yourself from other people.

MN: What was your first leading role?

VG: My first leading role was L'Italiana in Algieri for Florentine Opera in Milwaukee with Joseph Rescigno conducting. He is the nephew of Nicola Rescigno and he has a wonderful background, especially in bel canto. I really love working with him. It can be really difficult to find someone who knows that tradition and has an understanding of the way that the music needs to work. There's a lot of give and take between the orchestra and the voice in that opera. He is one of the few conductors who feel bel canto in their blood and can pass that on to you. Of course, it was my first leading role, so I really needed somebody to teach it to me.

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Copyright © 13 June 2004 Maria Nockin, Arizona, USA


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