The baritone on the operas he could live without and what went wrong when he tried to clutch an Aida’s arm.
1. Three operas you love most?
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
2. Three favourite baritones?
Baritone Warwick Fyfe
3. Three favourite roles (you have performed or are scheduled to perform)?
Klingsor … or Holländer… or Mandryka… don’t ask such hard questions!
4. Most memorable musical experience as an audience member?
Parsifal, Bayreuth 1993
5. If you weren’t an opera singer, what would you be?
Unemployed. But for preference a writer.
6. Three operas you could happily never hear again?
Roméo et Juliette
7. Funniest moment onstage?
When I reached round from behind slid my hand into an Aida’s cleavage mistaking her left breast for the arm I was meant to clutch.
8. Three favourite movies?
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Wagner by Tony Palmer
The Life of Brian
(Actually third place is a sort of dead heat involving umpteen films: The Shining, Clockwork Orange, Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, Braindead, Videodrome, The Devils, The Thing (1982 version), Jaws, Alien… I could go on and on..)
9. Three operas you like but never get to see?
10. A recording to be stranded with on a desert island?
Meistersinger with Hotter as Sachs
Elektra – both the Solti/Nilsson one and the DVD with Rysanek, Varnay and Böhm
11. A singer of the past you’d like to perform with?
12. A conductor, past or present, you’d like to perform with?
Knappertsbusch… or Furtwängler… or Keilberth… or Carlos Kleiber… oh, hang on: WAGNER!
13. Most overrated composer?
14. Most underrated composer?
Tricky… Arensky? Medtner? Pfitzner?
15. The last book you couldn’t put down?
Porno by Irvine Welsh
16. Six opera characters you would like to have around for dinner?
Macbeth (just to see what would happen)
The Shabby Peasant from Lady Macbeth of Mtensk (the last two would probably be appreciative)
17. An opera character you’d like to go on a date with?
My wife has never been depicted in an opera.
18. Three clichés that annoy you about opera?
That Wagner is too long or has highlights separated by boring bits or is all heavy and overbearing or indeed could be changed in any way whatsoever to make it better. Rubbish.
That Wagner is for the aficionado and so one should “start off” with Bohème etc and leave Wagner for later (if ever). Rubbish again. I’ve seen neophytes speared in the heart by Wagner on the first encounter. That’s what happened to me. All it takes is a mind that hasn’t been poisoned by the idiotic blather mentioned above.
The idea that for street cred as a classical performer one should vaunt one’s interest in non-classical music as a way of heading off charges of “elitism”. Stuff that.
19. Your favourite food?
Meat. I have a sort of ideal Schweinhaxe in my head but, like a fantastic sausage roll, it’s a hard thing to find in waking life.
20. Three guilty pleasures?
Butter in huge quantities.
Buying more books than I can read and more discs than I can watch/listen to.
Devouring the Spectator every Thursday.
Warwick Fyfe is a soloist in Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ Rossini Stabat Mater at the Sydney Opera House May 6 – 7