“Performing on Stage Is Not an Occupation, It’s a Vocation”, Nadya Krasteva
A vocation is your uniqueness in this world, as well as your duty. This is your sharp sense of responsibility about being. The young, talented, and beautiful Nadia Krasteva, a mezzo-soprano, has recreated more than 30 roles on the stage of a theatre with long-established opera tradition—the Vienna State Opera. More than 50 Bulgarians over an 80-years span have performed on this stage. Nadia Krasteva’s debut was in 2002 as Fenena in “Nabucco”. It was followed by key partitions in “Un ballo in maschera”, “Falstaff”, “La forza del destino”, “Boris Godunov”, “The Queen of Spades”, “Carmen”, “Norma”, etc. She has worked with musical celebrities such as singers Placido Domingo, Edita Gruberová, Neil Shicoff, Agnes Baltsa, Rolando Villazón, Bryn Terfel, and conductors Zubin Mehta, Christian Thielemann, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Marcello Viotti, Daniele Gatti, Franz Welser-Möst, Donald Runnicles, and Yuri Temirkanov. She has been a guest of the opera theater stages in Berlin, Hamburg, Sofia, Bratislava, Riga, Parma, Amsterdam, Chicago, Munich, and Paris.
Madam Krasteva, you look gorgeous. The public’s expecting to see young, slender divas like you on stage. Sometimes such considerations are also important for the choice of the performer in a given role. Do you think that opera is becoming an image business?
Yes, I can assume that to some extent. Singing and playing on stage are physically demanding as well, and the artist’s being in good shape is helpful for his or her natural and free movement during the performance.
For instance, in “La forza del destino” where I performed the gypsy Preziosilla, I was in a cowboy costume, with a gun—I had to shoot, to do a somersault, to make a bridge and a split during the opera act. Of course, this was by my agreement, because earlier, in Sofia, I was trained in rhythmic gymnastics and I could afford to. It was rather funny and the critics didn’t fail to notice that I was “flexible as much as my voice”.
Nonetheless, I believe that for an opera singer voice and musicality are above anything else. Maintaining a top singing shape is a must for any singer. And, in my opinion, the voice reflects in a way one’s soul—as much as fingerprints are matchless for every person, each voice is unique on its own.
Which in your view is more important: the public’s response or the critics’ assessment?
I’d give priority to public response. I’m performing for the audience and its opinion prevails for me. One of the objectives of my profession is precisely that—to touch the spectator, not to let it indifferent after the show. Whenever people leave the opera satisfied and in a fair mood, I feel happy and this is my best reward. Of course, I wouldn’t say that I don’t care about critics’ opinion, too. I value the way I’ve gone through; I don’t squander the memories about the acts in which I’ve performed; I always keep the critics, the articles, the notes of the musical critics. I’m blending my personal memories with the latter. I’m very grateful to Mr. Ioan Holender, General Manager of the Vienna State Opera, who selected me and entrusted such wonderful roles to me! He’s a cult personality in the modern operatic world and puts a definite imprint, as operatic art devotees insist, into the Opera house’s artistic profile.
From your viewpoint, what’s of prime importance for an opera artist: vocal partition or dramatic play?
I have the firm conviction that if you take cover behind your voice without penetrating the drama of the character you’re incarnating, the performance will be a failure. The performer must put on display music and action as well. I’m striving to give the most of myself in that respect. Indeed, no one could withstand physically this stream of emotions—a waterfall of music, feelings, and actions— if one doesn’t let it flow to the outside!
Many people are of the opinion that artists are a frail flock of creatures. Yet Opera requires physical fitness and moral endurance from its staff. You do have, however, a reliable backing: you built a strong family. A few words about it?
I was awfully young when I married—only 19. Soon after came the kid. Personally, I’m happy with the people that I have inside and outside the Opera, with whom I can share, dream, live, and sing. My husband, too, is a singer—a basso. He’s quite busy with solo performances but he finds nevertheless some time to help with organizing my things. Our adored young daughter is already individuality, in spite of being only 12 years old. She has participated to three stage performances together with me, as member of the Children’s Choir of the Opera, and was tremendously proud that she’s singing with mom already!