<< -- 3 -- Tess Crebbin SINGING OUT
TC: For you the difficulties are a thing of the past. In 1997 you made your international breakthrough in Bayreuth. The rest is history, so they say.
RDS: I was just the replacement, in case anything happened to the tenor in Meistersinger that year. As fate would have it, he came down with a bad cold. From one day to the next, I was asked to step in for him. I did not know how the Bayreuth audience was going to take that. I was a Nobody, and stepping in for a known singer was quite a big deal. I thought: oh dear, this might not go very well as far as the audience is concerned. But I sang very well, I had a huge success.
TC: What kind of a feeling was it for you to stand up there on stage, following your 1997 breakthrough performance at Bayreuth?
RDS: I don't think I will ever experience again what happened at the end of the Meistersinger that year. The crowd was applauding and cheering. I was completely overwhelmed by the audience's response. I can't even begin to describe it. It was just one of those moments that made me feel like I've done something with the work that I'd put into my music for years and years. The very next day, the phones were ringing off the hook. Some calls came from agencies that wanted to sign me which, a few months earlier, had wanted nothing to do with me when I auditioned for them. So I had to tell them, very politely and choking back a sarcastic laugh, thanks but no thanks. Then I signed with one of the top agencies, that I've been with since then, and they took things from there.
TC: They must have done a very good job, one presumes. You are now one of the world's most sought-after young Heldentenors.
RDS: My calendar is full. I can't complain. I travel a lot and I've seen some of the great cities of the world. For a boy from the plains of Kansas, that's a long way to come. For me, being able to visit all these great cities, seeing the museums there, taking in the cultural aspects, is one of the great perks of this job. When there are concerts, there's not a lot of spare time left. It's a pretty tight schedule. But with operas, when there is something like six or seven weeks rehearsal, there's time. You get a feeling for the city and for its people, and that's very nice.
TC: Meistersinger must be very special to you, then. It's what helped get you to the top.
RDS: Yes. Also, Walther von Stolzing is being asked to sing all the way through the opera as part of the story. Sing this to become a Meistersinger! He has to sing to get the girl. That's the little added extra because I am able to show what's involved in being a singer, as part of my character.
TC: Are there parallels between you and Walther? He sings and sings, to become a Meistersinger. And you came to Europe and practiced, and practiced, to become a Master Heldentenor ... the iron will is in both of you, isn't it?
RDS: There is the artistic drive, true. Walther has it; it's his love for the art of singing that gets him to where he wants. It is like that for me, too. I feel that I have to sing. I have to make music. I've always felt like that, ever since I was eighteen and found out that I wanted to be involved with music. I grew up in a small town of fifteen hundred people, and I just enjoyed music. I played saxophone, even studied saxophone in college. Then I studied voice. And jazz is my big hobby.
Copyright © 20 July 2004
Tess Crebbin, Germany