| Gioconda at Barbican:
"The Barbican is a very large hall, and was filled to the rafters. I felt the audience understood. There was an ovation for the 'Suicidio!' romanza. There is no saving of the voice here. I don't agree with the current vogue of substituting arbitrary pianissimos for forte high notes. You cannot deny or hold back the onrush of desperate emotion here. The singer must flood the theater with sound, and no amount of acting can compensate for sound of her anguish. In fact, this extreme emotion is better conveyed with minimal movement. I derive my conception from Gioconda's lyric moments, which are dark in color. There you see where to begin. Imagine what is required in the extremity of those love-hate duets and the contemplation of suicide. Desperate , yes - but with power in reserve. Gioconda is a strong
Of Turandot : "Turandot is a wonderful role, a girl in a fantasy , with tremendous fascination. Ice, an iceberg - imagine. There is no other character like her. But this ice must be conveyed with an Italian emission, not German."
Of lady Macbeth : " Lady Macbeth is a character rich in contrasting human emotions, unconscionably evil, but pathetic in her denouement. It isn't enough to pull down the house with the sleepwalking scene and the D-flat, un fil di voce, as it must be done, but supported. The aria 'Vieni, t'affretta!' is important too. It demands tremendous vocal power in every register. This tells you who the Lady is . The sleepwalking scene tells you what she has become."
Of the Arena versus the large opera house : " Yes , I work differently in each. The voice must arrive to the last row in the loggione wherever you are. Turandot in a closed theater is sung more legato. To be understood in the open air from that distant, elevated staircase, the words have to be more clearly enunciated , so there is less true legato, but you compensate in the trust of the voice."
Of tenors: " I have sung with the most beautiful tenor voices in the world today, and our ensemble work has been a joy. Many singers, however, need to know who their soprano or their partner is . This has never been a necessary consideration for me."
Of being a diva: " Remember. There are many divas, but only someone with voice can be a prima donna."
Of her voice : "My debut was in Nabucco, at twenty-five. I always used the center, top and bottom of my voice, and even though it was worked hard , it never abandoned me."
Of her family and education : "I was born to a peasant
family, and though my parents weren't musicians many of our ancestors played instruments. As a child I loved to climb my tree and sing to the countryside - my first outdoor theater. Though I had little musical education, I had a large voice even then."
What about Norma ? - "It is Bellini with the drama of Verdi".
Of teaching she states : " It is our obligation to help the young , and I do it, yes, with pleasure. "
About the recordings : Recording is a difficult subject, especially in my case. The opera house is the arena in which I work best . I feel at home there. In making a recording, the dynamics are tuned down or boosted by the engineers. The lyric voice, even big lyric voices, record more faithfully, because their volume does not stress the acoustical equipment. And it is easy to amplify those voices, keeping their quality, to dramatic-soprano proportions. In my case, the volume of my voice must be suppressed and then brought back into balance with the ensemble. For Nabucco I stood three feet away from the microphone. Mix and balance are crucial to the success of a recording.
At this point of my career it has been in the hands of gods, and they have been very good to me. In my view, recordings cannot present the singer or conductor in an authentic light."