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Interview with … Pavel Černoch

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Czech tenor Pavel Černoch was a wonderful Lenski last year in Eugene Onegin at the Opéra Bastille. He is now about to return to our city to sing the title role in the widely acclaimed production of Don Carlos. Let’s meet with a passionate singer !

Can you tell us about what decided you to sing and about your debut ?

It was a long and arduous journey. I had always wanted to be on stage, but I wasn’t sure if it was as a singer. I come from a family of engineers, with no musical background, so it was not that easy to decide to study singing. I have always loved music and singing : as a child, I had started singing in the children’s choir of my hometown Brno. Then, I continued in high school, and I was recognized as having talent, which was the driving force for me. During my first internship in Italy, I was 18 at that time and paid for it myself, I finally found out singing is what I want to do for a living. In Italy I met legends such as Franco Corelli in person. At that time, I didn’t know that my career would only start ten years later…

During the first semester at the Academy of Music in Brno, I was suspended for being “a troublemaker”. That was because I kept asking why my throat was hurting after singing lessons. I tried some private lessons, but they weren’t the best for me so I decided to give up singing at the age of 25, and started to focus more on management which I studied at that time. Singing became my hobby. But even though I had ended up with a professional career, I still wanted to find out the truth about singing. This, in combination with my hunger after being on stage, brought me together with my actual mentor Paolo De Napoli from Florence. He taught me everything I know and he has been my mentor ever since.

Before I made my real debut singing Alfredo in La Traviata, I had experienced a lot of pleasant and not so pleasant attempts. I remember for example my very first experience on stagen when I was 20, at Teatro Cagliari with a walk-on role in Tchaikovsky’s Cherevichki conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. My part was to sing one sentence and to announce the arrival of the sarina. Mr. Rozhdestvensky never indicated entries, and I was so nervous and couldn’t orientate myself that I missed my cue. So he only waved away to leave the stage as it was over…

How does it feel to sing the title role in Don Carlos in a huge production at the Opéra de Paris ?

For me, each time I join a new production, it is like another dream coming true. You are a part of a process which is immensely interesting, and I like it as much as the performance itself. And when you are lucky enough to work with people like Philippe Jordan and Krzysztof Warlikowski and his team, it is even better. I am convinced that this production is going to be exceptional.

During the 5 weeks of rehearsals, I was able to observe my amazing colleagues doing their job, and among others, Ludovic Tézier. He is an incredible person, an amazing singer with a perfect technique ; he is humble and professional. A huge source of motivation for my career path.

How different is to sing Don Carlos in French rather than in the Italian version ?

I have never sung the Italian version on stage. I know it and I plan it for the future. For me, they are both very different, in terms of length, music, or language. It’s like two different worlds, and both of them are beautiful. The French version is maybe more lyric, however the complete version in five acts is a challenge for any singer.

What are your best memories so far as a singer ?

I hold my best memories with people rather than for a particular performance. It is a bit like with being in love. When the chemistry works, it is great, otherwise you languish and you see no desirable results. Then, it doesn’t matter, if you are in Milan, New York or Prague.

How would you define your voice and what are your favorite roles ?

According to my vocal characteristics, I am a lirico spinto. My major roles belong to Verdi’s and Puccini’s operas or to the French repertoire (Don Jose in Carmen or Faust in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust for example). I love very much the French repertoire, and I am currently working on my first Werther. Of course, as I’m Czech, I sing in Janáček’s operas or in Dvorak’s Rusalka. I am often chosen for the Russian repertoire (Lenskij, Lykov, Vladimir).

I would like to learn some Wagnerian roles in the future : Lohengrin, Erik, Parsifal or Walther von Stolzing, I already have an offer for all of them. The Italian repertoire is also very close to my heart : I am about to sing Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca in 2018 at the new Greek National Opera House in Athens. And I’m still dreaming of singing more Verdi roles, such as Riccardo in Ballo in Maschera.

What are your main projects today ?

Right after my last performance of Don Carlos in Paris, I will fly to Rome to sing in a new production of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust. I’m really looking forward to work with Daniele Gatti and Damiano Michieletto ! With this piece we will open the new season of the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome. After this project, I am going to sing my first Cavaradossi in Athens, and then in June, I’m eagerly awaiting to sing Werther in my hometown in Prague. In the next seasons, there are lots of interesting projects and new roles coming up in Amsterdam, Munich, London, Paris, Hamburg, Toronto, New York, and many more…

Which artists would you like to work with ?

I would like to work with artists who are good in what they do. It is for me really important to work with highly professional people

Apart from music, do you have any hobby ?

I love sports. I cannot imagine my life without fitness, running and walking. I also love gardening, when I am back home. And last but not least, I love to drink a good wine. I have made the best decisions in my life drinking a glass of good wine !

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