Aleksandrs Antoņenko: „I'll definitely sing in Latvia next year!”
„The Troubadour” is the second premiere for you this season, I suppose?
Yes, „The Troubadour” will be performed at Schiller Theater. It is currently used for Berlin State Opera stagings while the renovation works are run at the opera. The premiere will be on November 29. The legendary Placido Domingo will play Count di Luna, but Anna Ņetrebko will be Leonora, We sang together at Verbier Festival quite successfully. So, now I am playing Manrico. Rehearsals have just started, but they allowed me to join a day later, so that I can visit Latvia.
Apparently, the greatest opera stars will take part this time.
At least two and a half stars will definitely be, as I often use to say..(Smiling.)
You have spent a lot of time outside Latvia while working on your performances. Did not you miss something you could get only home - brown bread, for instance?
When I was working in New York for my Pollione performance, I especially missed cultured dairy products, like buttermilk. You can buy some kefir at New York stores, but it's not the same I'm used to drink. Fresh salted salmon is another thing you can't get in New York. Although there is a Russian shop in Brooklyn where you can buy all those products, I live in Manhattan which takes forty minutes by metro for me to get there. Besides, I live nearby the local shops where all sorts of biological products are sold.
The first things I'll buy in Latvia will be brown bread, buttermilk and fresh salted salmon, that's for sure.
Did you try to cook while living in New York? You have told in interviews about your cooking skills.
Unfortunately, I did not have any chance to cook as I got so much work for my Pollione part. So, my friends were left without borsch this time. However, I tried lots of Chinese and Japanese food as well as delicious salads at the nearby restaurants.
When the rehearsals for „The Troubadour” start, I probably will get some more free time to cook.
Recently you got a prestige Swedish award.
Yes, it's an interesting story. I received a message in the middle of October that I had received a Jussi Björling award, he was a great opera singer. So, artists from Royal Swedish Opera voted for me. (Smiling.) I perform at Swedish Opera quite frequently, I was a part of „Manon Lescaut”, „Tosca” and „The Queen of Spades” opera productions.
Besides, I consider this as a reward for my mentor activities: two singers who used to be baritones, became tenors as soon as I advised them to.
One of those singers also received this award, back then, he was still a baritone. (Smiling.)
Probably, your greeting speech will have to be in Swedish.
Most likely, I will tell some words in English on May 23 during the award ceremony. I also intend to learn a song in Swedish which I performed in Danish before. As far as I know, also Jussi Björling sung it in his time.
I wonder if Swedish people might like my sense of humor. Once I said that I come from the biggest city in Sweden. (Laughing.) As we know, Riga once was a part of Sweden where a bigger number of residents must have been than in Stockholm. At least, for some time.
Recently a record of Verdi opera „Otello” with the performance of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and maestro Riccardo Muti was released. You had the leading role for this record.
Yes, it's a concert record from 2011. Besides, I did not even know that it's been released. I found the CD in a New York record store where I bought three pieces. One of them I gave as a presen to my mother, now I just have to find out to whom I should give the other two CDs. Unfortunately, I won't be able to give it to all my fans, it would be too expensive..
You have many performances in foreign countries, but when will we have the chance to hear you in Latvia?
(Checking his calendar.) I suppose, next year. I'm aware that Latvian composer Zigmars Liepiņš has written a musical piece for me. I will perform at his „Transcendental oratorio” on April 26. I will also sing at the opening concert of Cēsis Concert Hall on May 30, also at the concert titled „Born in Riga” which is gonna be one of the projects of European Capital of Culture. Inese Galante invited me to sing at „Summertime” Festival, but in August, I will perform at Festival of the Arts „Cēsis 2014”, where a Puccini's opera „The Girl of the West” is to be presented. If someone wishes to go to other Baltic States, I'm singing a solo show at Vilnius Congress Centre on April 12 together with maestro Gintars Rinkēvičs, but before that, I'll take part at a great gala in Tallinn together with conductor Eri Klaas on January 24.
So, you definitely have plenty of joy working in various projects.
Of course ! Although, sometimes I think it's too much work...(Laughing.)