Here is their conversation (not the conversation with them) about Tosca in the Arena: the first part today, followed by the continuation tomorrow.
Dimitris: First of all, I have to say, I love working with you, Maida. Now you can start answering the questions. (laughter) Really, but seriously now, besides being a phenomenal singer, Maida is a wonderful person. She has a genuine, completely theatrical view of our work; she always reacts from that perspective and I like that. Truly.
Maida: We love singing together and enjoy it, just as we love to draw the audience into the story we present and bring excitement with our performance.
Singing in the Pula Arena
Maida: It was beautiful and very hot in the Arena in Pula during rehearsal.
Dimitris: But singing there is a phenomenal feeling!
Maida: The acoustics are brilliant. It works completely naturally; we don’t need any kind of sound systems. Because then, you rather sit on the balcony and play perfect CD. This is a complete experience. You have surround sound because the construction, the architecture, was designed not only for gladiatorial fights, but also for theatre. You speak softly and everyone can still hear you.
Dimitris: As a Greek, I am used to such rocky stages. (laughter) I have been in arenas, but much smaller. This is something I have never seen or felt. Honestly, singing arias in such a place… I’ll be beside myself. A dream come true! Singing under the stars, in such a place…is there any singer who wouldn’t give everything to have such an opportunity just once in his life?!
Maida: I’ll hang extra stars for you.
Dimitris: I made my debut in Aida in the Stade de France, with 60,000 people in the audience. We had microphones, of course. Believe me, this in Pula is different. I can’t wait!
Maida: Although it was uncertain, this summer I will also be singing in Aida in the Arena in Verona, in front of an expected 6,000 people, as opposed to the previous 30,000. My summer this year is an arena summer. If even two people come to Pula, we will be happy; we are grateful to everyone in the audience.
The Rijeka Opera’s Tosca production
Maida: In general, Tosca is always a challenge for me, and it’s just as enjoyable every time. The moment the music starts, as soon as I hear the first note, that story of crime and love always takes me instantly into that world. Tosca has been a part of my repertoire for twenty years, across several productions, and I always feel that way. It never gets old. I love doing it with both traditional and modern direction, as long as I don’t have to walk around completely naked. Of course, Scarpia rapes Tosca, so she finds no solution other than killing her aggressor. She is a woman who sees no other way out but to grab the knife and try to escape. In this staging by Marin Blažević, we have both the traditional and the modern in a way, and even the abstract in the third act.
Maida: That’s right. In doing so, everything makes sense and it all works great together.
Interview by Andrea Labik
Maida Hundeling and Dimitris Paksoglou