5 questions for... Jennifer Larmore

Through social media a couple of questions have been asked to mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, who sings the rol of Gräfin Geschwitz in Lulu. Read below what Jennifer Larmore tells about this role, the production and her career.

 

What do you think is most special about this production of the opera Lulu?

I have been in 4 productions of LULU and each one was unique! While the scenery,  the singers, the conductor and director change, the thing that stays the same is this glorious music and the world Berg creates. In this production,  William Kentridge has juxtaposed projections above the singers, incorporated a mime who is each character’s alter ego and has allowed us the freedom to interact with each other. It is a very special production for those reasons.

What is your biggest challenge in this production?

Graffin Geschwitz is the only truly “real” person in this cast of characters surrounding Lulu. She loves Lulu for who she is, faults and all. She is the only one who doesn’t manipulate, want to use or hurt Lulu, rather she wants only to love her. My challenge is to show this to the audience. A good actress is always thinking and yet, I must find a way to get these thoughts and feelings over the footlights out clearly to an audience.

How do you use your experience of previous productions and characters in this specific role?

I know this “world” very well from the other productions that I’ve done even if I was expected to do and show other things. This gives me an advantage in that I can draw from those other experiences and enhance the character even more every time I have the pleasure of being her! It always help to have already done a role and to be able to expand it the next time.

What roles are most interesting to play and sing? The ones which are close or far away to your personality?

Roles that are multi layered are the most fun. For example, I love playing “Kostelnicka” in Janacek’s Jenufa because this is a tortured woman questioning and striving and trying to make sense of the world in which she lives. She loves deeply, she hates deeply and she goes to the extreme. I share only one trait with her and that is that I love deeply, otherwise I would never do what she does!  I think that we all imbue our characters with a bit of our own personalities so my “Geschwitz” or my “Kostelnicka” or whatever role I do always will have a little of me in there too!

Did you know already early on that you wanted to be a singer?

I was one of those little kids who sang from the very beginning. I loved singing, and from as far back as I can remember that was what I wanted to do in my life. I sang in choirs, in church, in school and by the time I was 14 years old I had an operatic sounding voice. Everyone in my life encouraged me to pursue a career and I am so glad that I did. Thirty years later I still love it and feel incredibly humbled and honored to have had this life!

What role would you ever want to sing?

I have a few!! I would love to sing the “Marshallin” in Der Rosenkavalier of Strauss and “Marie” in Wozzeck!  I was surprised to find myself going through a vocal “evolution” of sorts which took me from Rossini and Handel roles to ones such as “Lady Macbeth” in Verdi’s Macbeth and the “Kostelnicka” in Janacek’s Jenufa, the “Gräffin Geschwitz”, “Eboli” in Verdi’s Don Carlos, “Mère Marie” in Poulenc’s the Les dialogues des Carmélites  and even “Hélène” in Offenbach’s operetta, La Belle Hélène.  These days, a singer in their prime is not considered as valuable as they once were so it’s up to us to reinvent and find ways to stay relevant. The choice of roles to sing is an extremely important one in this respect.  I look forward to singing this wonderful role of “Gräffin Geschwitz” for years to come!
 

Do you want to hear Jennifer Larmore singing?
Come to Lulu, from 1 - 28 June.

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