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Interview with … Yusif Eyvazov

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Yusif Eyvazov was born in Azerbaijan, where he studied music until 1997, before moving to Italy. He now sings in the most prestigious opera houses worldwide, including the Met Opera, the Teatro alla Scala or the The Royal Opera. 

Paris will have the opportunity to welcome him again in a few weeks for Il Trovatore, and then in May 2019, for a joint concert with Anna Netrebko at the Palais Garnier !

>> Photos : Vladimir Shirokov

Can you tell us about what decided you to become a singer ?

When I was 18, I was not very familiar with classical music and I wanted to become a pop-singer. I applied to the conservatory, where learning the classical repertoire was compulsory. This is where I plunged into this wonderful world of Opera ; I fell in love with this music and I began to work hard in that direction. My international career started with my debut at the Bolshoi Theater in 2010, singing Cavaradossi in Tosca. I was 32 at the time, which is already quite old for a singer. But due to the color of my voice, it took me some time before I could debut in a theater such as the Bolshoi.

You are currently singing in the new production of Puccini’s Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. How does it feel being part of this project ?

I really love the Metropolitan Opera. This theater has always been a priority for me, because it is one of the best in the world. Of course, I’m happy that the Metropolitan Opera invited me to sing in this production and for this role. After a long and intensive period of work, I had planned a small vacation for three weeks. But I do not regret anything, on the contrary, I am very happy, especially after such terrific reviews after the first performance. I am very grateful to Peter Gelb and to the Metropolitan Opera, their wonderful orchestra and choir, and to all my colleagues who take part to this production.

You sang for the first time at the Opera de Paris in 2016, in Il Trovatore, then for Aida. Is it difficult to sing at the Opéra Bastille ?

The Opéra Bastille is a wonderful venue, with an incredible casting director, Ilias Tzempetonidis. I am always very happy to be invited there. I love France very much and I admire the French audience. I debuted in this theater singing the title role in Il Trovatore, in a production staged by Alex Ollé. Then, there was Aida in 2016, and I will soon return to Paris to sing in the Trovatore’s production again. I am very much looking forward to it. I can’t wait to meet the amazing French audience in this magnificent theater. A good venue creates great conditions for a successful work so it is always a pleasure to come back to the Opéra Bastille !

How could you define your voice today ?

I would say that my voice is quite complicated and I believe that it is still developing. I think it has not fully unveiled its potential yet. I am absolutely sure about it, that’s why I keep working to develop my voice every day. I am looking for new facets, new horizons of its capacity. I am so happy when I hear someone from the audience telling me about some changes that they have noticed, such as : « Your voice sounded different today, something was removed, something was added ». This process is endless, and it will last a lifetime. Any artist who constantly develops and works on his voice thinks exactly the same. I like this process very much. I like to perform, to work on stage, but also to discover the new capacities of my voice even more, while studying with my vocal coach. This is very exciting.

Do you prefer to sing in very big theaters like the Metropolitan Opera or the Opéra Bastille, or in smaller venues?

For me, as an artist who loves his audience very much, it does not matter at all if I sing in a big theater or in a smaller one. I’m happy to perform in any place. The public who loves music is important to me anywhere. As artists, we have the task to manage to visit all the places where people are waiting for us. This is very, very important.

Would you like to sing a very different repertoire, such as Mozart, Baroque music or Contemporary music ?

Vocal experts will agree with me : surely, my voice is not ideal for Mozart and for the Baroque repertoire. I like this kind of music very much, but unfortunately, I do not think that I will ever perform it, because with the time, the voice usually becomes darker and heavier. On the opposite, I’m sure I will sing Wagner in a few years. As for Contemporary Music … if there is an interesting proposition, why not ? The most important thing is that the music matches my voice’s range and texture.

Is it important for you to sing in productions with Anna Netrebko and is it a big challenge ?

I’m always delighted to perform with my wife, because she’s a brilliant singer and a magnificent artist. But if Anna and I were always performing together, it would be uninteresting for our audience. I often perform with other amazing colleagues : Sondra Radvanovsky, Hibla Gerzmava, Kristine Opolais, Angela Gheorghiu or Maria Guleghina. This year, I am going to sing Tosca with Sonya Yoncheva and we constantly work together with Anna Nechaeva. This year we sang in The Queen of Spades and in Manon Lescaut together. Of course, every time I go on stage with Anya [Anna Netrebko], this is a very special feeling. We have love in our real life, and we just have to transfer it on stage !

 

Which roles would you like to sing in the future ?

There are a lot of new roles that I would like to perform. But I also dream of singing Verdi’s Otello and Luigi in Il Tabarro again, which are quite difficult roles.

Which artists would you like to work with ?

I am lucky to have the possibility to work with the greatest conductors of our time, such as Riccardo Muti, Riccardo Chailly, Marco Armiliato or Bertrand de Billy. In May I will work for the first time with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Christian Thielemann at the Salzburg Easter Festival in a new production of Don Carlo. I would be very happy to work with Kirill Petrenko and Fabio Luisi. It is important to expand my circle of great artists and colleagues ; there is always something new I can learn from each of them.

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