Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vesselina Kasarova, no words to describe

Ok, I just arrived home after the most amazing concert of my life! I know what you might be thinking, “Wasn’t it the same as yesterday?”, well, the repertoire might have been the same, but the performance most certainly wasn’t.
Started off my day pretty well, had loads of cool opera lessons, sang some good old Monteverdi repertoire and then I couldn’t resist it. When my teacher asked if I wanted to do anything else, anything at all, I had only one question for her “Do you have a Le Nozze di Figaro score here?”, and I sang the BEST Voi che sapete of my existence! It just travelled right out of my mouth, it was delicious to sing and such joy, and a lot of cheekbones, all thanks to Vesselina.
After quite a stressful day and a stressful getting to the concert hall, there I was Sala São Paulo, alone, as none of my friends had arrived. Thank God for twitter, I bought Vesselina’s Arias cd, I couldn’t resist it! All my friends decided to arrive at the same time, and we chatted enthusiastically about opera.

Then, BAM, big moment, I went to my fabulous center front row seat and the excitement just kept building up! The Camerata came in and played the modern piece just as well as yesterday. They are such an amazing group, and it’s fascinating to see so up close how orchestra players do their craft.
But there is no way to outshine the sun, again, when Vesselina walked in it was as if the whole orchestra disappeared and it was just her! And just as she arrived on her space to sing, she spotted me and mouthed a “Hi!” blinking her eyes in acknowledgment and my person almost died. She did the same for Otávio, and I can say for the both of us that we were in the clouds and she hadn’t even started singing yet. It wasn’t long until we reached the stars when she rocked the Mozart out of us. And yet again those penetrating eyes looked at me at “Voi che sapete che cosa è amor”, but this time it was the opening phrase. And since she already knew who I was her looks towards me changed from ‘I’m looking at the nice girl who’s smiling’ to ‘I’m looking at that girl who came yesterday and was such a sweetie’ or something like that. The thing is most of the times she’d look at me I felt a sort of connection, because she’d look differently, like happily, like ‘Yay, you are here again and I’m glad you are enjoying yourself!

First part of the concert, singing Mozart repertoire, photo by Jaqueline Vilela
I might be totally wrong, but you can say I was under the influence of that magnificent voice and I was seeing things and she was just being nice. In her Sesto arias I didn’t feel like I was breathing, I nearly cried at Parto, Parto remembering the first time I’d ever seen her and said “Wow, this one is GOOD!” . I don’t want to sound repetitive but I must point out again that her interpretations were marvelous! Even though she was wearing a dress you could see Cherubino, young, yearning for what people call love, excited about something he does not truly comprehend, in her eyes, in her movements, in her face, everything. So I couldn’t help but smile, because Cherubino makes me smile, he’s a lovely character and she WAS Cherubino.
Same with Sesto, that’s probably another reason why I almost cried watching her sing Parto, Parto, because it is such a love devoted song, but it’s also a sad song. Her GUARDAMEs were poignant and heart breaking, you could almost see Vitelia there as Vesselina looked with such conviction towards where she’d be.

Non so piu cosa son, caso faccio! Photo by Jaqueline Vilela
One thing that was quite interesting about her in general is that she was wearing rather simple dresses, but she looked like a Goddess. And not because of makeup and hair, those were simple too, but because she glowed! The light that came from within her made her look divine, her joy in singing and her happiness of being able to sing here for a new audience. You could just feel that.
Parto, parto! Photo by Jaqueline Vilela
Well intermission time and all friends come to talk and I’m totally basking at the fact she said “Hi” to me. But something quite annoying happened during intermission, I know we’re all entitled to our opinions, but I don’t think its fit to trash someone’s performance while you are still in it loud and clear for the world to hear. That’s what I heard some girls do and a sentence that had my ears burning was “Well, as singers, we are very disappointed at her performance”. I’m sorry guys if I’m going out of line here but, WHAT? These people were my age. I always say, you are going to say someone sucks you’d better be able to do better than that person; otherwise you’re just bitchy and jealous. There I’ve said it. Sorry if I was rude.
Intermission was over and here she comes again and off we go to the Rossini fireworks. It always gets to me how she can move so much, in all sorts of directions and in so many ways and still keep her voice just right. Plus doing amazing and intelligent dynamics, they were not what you’d normally hear, she’s made them her own, but they still express what they need to express, which I think is the perfect combination for a memorable performance.
And her choice of movement at first might seem strange, but when you come to think of it, all the roles she sang, but Rosina, were pants roles. She’s playing guys, she has to have a different posture if she wants to be true to the character and articulate what the story is telling us. And it still amazes me how she can rock those pants roles arias in a dress. That’s just the thing, some people get so carried away by their clothes, makeup and hair that the clothes normally wear them. It’s the complete opposite with Vesselina, the dresses were pretty, but she was wearing them, she owned them, not the other way round. Her first dress had the sides opened so when she’d walk we could see almost her whole leg. And I’m just gonna say it, she looked hot in that dress, but it was clearly just one little element, because it took me a while to notice her legs.

But away from her legs and back to the performance, it was unbelievable. I’m sensing that this post is getting too personal and I’m afraid to screw things up by being honest, but I’m just going to say what I felt.
The introduction of the first Tancredi aria was quite long, and she looked a bit nervous. She smiled warmly at everyone but somehow I could tell something was off. So I started sending her all the good vibes I could possibly give, thinking of really giving her all the protection she would need. Before I knew it I was asking to God to protect her and make sure she’d have a good time and feel good while singing to us. She sang the aria near to perfection and when she came to bow after the aria she made the cross sign and I really didn’t know what to think. It did help though, I guess. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t want to convert anyone, I’m just saying what happened. Again I could be totally wrong, this is just how I see it.
When her last aria in the program started first I felt like laughing my behind off because there was someone coughing real hard somewhere in the audience and she just looked out for the person and asked the conductor to wait for the person to stop. Me and my friends were laughing at lot at this and she was quite amused, but most of the audience was quiet. And then I felt like crying, I really didn’t want it to end. It was really so bittersweet and one of those moments in which you try to take in as much as you can. The aria ended and almost immediately I was on my feet screaming like crazy BRAVA, BRAVA! I’m gonna tell you my hands never hurt so much because of clapping, but it was worth it, because she was back for that great encore. She looked at me and Otavio quite often during those bows mouthing thank yous.

Second half with amazing Rossini repertoire, photo by Jaqueline Vilela
Encore, encore and since I knew she was only doing one I really had fun with this, especially because, as I’ve said before, she was singing Una Voce Poco Fa. Fun fact, before she actually began the encore she pointed out to some people leaving the hall and looked puzzled at the conductor, making the people leaving extremely uncomfortable. She had the most adorable puzzled look on her face and I just said loud "Ah, o azar é deles!" (which translates to “Ah, it’s their loss”) and then she shrugged her shoulders and PARAM PARAM (that’s the written version of the beginning of the aria). The aria was fun, it was delicious to watch as she literally played with the Rossini lines, and made her fantastic ornamentation together with stellar and funny acting. I couldn’t tear the smile out of my face, again you can feel that she feels such immense joy and fulfillment in doing this, it just comes over in the voice and in the eyes.

Let me talk a bit about the eyes, they are just the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen! I had already noticed she knew how to act so well with her eyes in Carmen when she’d look at José before she seduces him to set her free. Those eyes, wow, just wow!

Me and my opera girlfriends before the concert
And then, the best moment of my ENTIRE LIFE happened. She was bowing, thanking everyone so very much and me and Otavio screaming like good fanboys/fangirls do. Out of the blue she comes to the edge of the stage, lowers down, extends her hand to me, I take her hand hardly believing this is actually happening, and she says like “Thank you so very much for being here” (I don't really remember the exact words, I was too excited), then she lets go, does the same thing with Otavio and we both DIE! I mean, what? I just turned to my friend and said “Did that just really happen? Did I die and go to heaven or something?”.
She did another encore, she sang the final bit of one of the Rossini arias she had done, and the crowd was insane for her. We clapped as if there was no tomorrow, and I myself clapped hoping she’d never stop encoring (does that verb even exist?). After it was over some people came to talk to us because she had reached out for us and been so very amazing. It was really one of the most incredible moments of my entire life!
We got in line to talk to her again, but we were the last ones and since she’s a fantastic human being and wants to chat with everyone, when our turn came we could only exchange a few words, and I kept saying “You are so marvelous, you were terrific, I loved it” damn, I wanted to tell her how much her Master Class had helped me, how much I loved her interpretation of Sesto, how extremely touched and honored I was that she reached out to me, of all people, to thank during the concert. But there was no time, I got my cds signed, she held my hands and said something like “Thank you so much for this” (I don't remember the exact words she used, I was in a state of complete bliss), and then she had to go. But as we were in the parking lot we spotted her and she waved at us quite enthusiastically.
What I came to conclude is the following, do what you love and you will have all the love in the world to give, be generous, help people, give people a shot, and listen to opera because it’s awesome!

Ps; I’m writing this FOUR page post sitting on the floor of the bathroom of my cousin’s apartment, I normally write outside in the balcony when he’s asleep, but it’s kinda chilly out there today, and oh man, it’s 3:50 in the morning, I’m so doomed tomorrow!
Peace peeps!


  1. *love*, so much.

    1. Thanks so much, it's very sweet of you! :)

  2. Me too!
    You write how I would like to if I were not such a "tightly buttoned up Brit"!! Well done and thank you for sharing

    1. Thanks! I write from the heart I guess. :)
      It's such a pity I don't write down stuff while I'm watching the performances, because the best stuff remains there. But I can't, I could hardly move while watching Vesselina, let alone tear my eyes off her for a while to make notes hahaha

  3. Another exciting post, Bela. One thing you are learning, too, is that opera singers are people just like us...well, maybe better singers. I guess they're mostly just like us...anyway, I'm so thrilled you bonded with VK.

    As for your fellow students: High school and college music students are often the harshest critics, especially of musicians who don't do things exactly the same way they (the students) have just been taught. Many of them think they know everything. As we get older we realize we DON"t know everything (though some people never do outgrow that). I remember in college, we heard a European choir (I forget which) do the Monteverdi Vespers. All my choir buddies trashed them (the choir was absolutely wonderful) simply because their style was different than ours.

    I think too, a lot of people who are studying are so focused on doing things technically correct that they forget about interpretation. We've all heard singers make a questionable sound now and then, but it's usually for a dramatic reason. We hear pianists miss a note or four, and don't recognize that the overall interpretation was WONDerful. (Listen to Edwin Fischer playing Bach concerti on the piano)

    Fortunately, you seem to have escaped this know-it-all phase, and appreciate the overall performance, AND the person behind that performance.

    Anyway, sorry, I didn't mean to write a term paper here. Great post, and great blog. I look forward to hearing more and more.

    1. Hey Rob! Yes, Vesselina is a very special person and I adore her!
      And about the students, I unfortunately know too well what you mean, my college is full of them. And I think it's a shame that they act like that, because I think the moment you think you know everything is when it gets dull, I love to learn and to discover things. But I'll always not know something and that excites me a lot, knowing there's always going to be something new out there for me to discover.
      And dont sweat about the term paper comment, I loved it!
      Thank you so much for reading!

  4. I enthusiastically second what Rob says above. And thanks so much again for bouncing your enthusiasm back to VK while she was on the stage. She's some 10000 miles from home in a new country she had never been before, and I bet it helped a lot to have such friendly faces (you and Octavio, for two) close by to share her love of music with. I bet she'd be thrilled to read your conclusion (along with the rest of the post, of course!). :o)

    1. Hey! Thanks so much for reading!
      She's such a wonderful person, you can't help but smile at her, and the voice is just incredible, everything I hoped for and more, so powerful!
      It'd be awesome if she read it, hun? Well, who knows? Maybe she will :) (here's to hoping)

    2. i was thinking the same as Smorg, she was quite far from her comfort territory with an audience she didn't have a rapport with before... so it must be quite a comforting and reassuring feeling to establish the purest human interaction of sincere joy, eye contacts, smile and hand touch :-). (thadieu)