So you don’t believe in true love? Have you become a bit cynical because your heart has been broken too often, or have you seen too many marriages end in divorce? So fairy-tales are not real and your tears are flowing for La Bohème only??
I know a remedy: meet John Osborn and the love of his life, Lynette Tapia.
Their love blossoms and glows as if they have only just met and yet they have been together for many years! They also have a daughter, the now eighteen-year-old multi-talented Anna.
I met them both on a horribly cold February day in 2013 with ice, snow and wind outside, but in the café Puccini where we met, my heart and soul were soon to be warmed.
The lovely Lynette Tapia with her beautiful green eyes and shiny black hair is a celebrated singer as well and sometimes she manages to sing with her husband. In September 2006, they had their Amsterdam debut together in Capricio by Richard Strauss, as the Italian singers.
In October 2012, they both sang in Verdi’s Rigoletto at Schloss Braunfels, a production of Opera Classica Europa, an organisation that presents operas at the most beautiful historical locations in Europe.
I love what Opera Classica Europa does and the way they do it. The location was enchanting, we were wearing real, historical costumes. Old-fashioned? Yes, definitely: old-fashioned beautiful. We didn’t have that much rehearsal time, but there was no need. There was nothing you really had to learn, everything being already in the music.
The role of the Duca is particularly suited to a high tenor. I have been a singer for 22 years. I am not a baritonal tenor but I can sing ever heavier roles. It depends on the location, of course, and it also matters who your conductor is, and whether he knows how to keep the orchestra in check. The music has been shifted to a higher pitch, the orchestras are playing louder, but you still have to rise above the orchestra and you have to be audible everywhere, even in the back rows. Add to that the fact that we tenors don’t sing in falsetto any more; today’s audience would not be appreciative.
I am from the generation that grew up with the three tenors, but a lot has changed since then. You can’t afford not to look good. Or not to be fit. When I was younger, I didn’t participate in sports and fitness, I thought it was a waste of time. But in a way, I think it is fair and good that we take care to look the part a bit more, for the public’s sake. Although it is still mainly (I hope?!) about the singing!
Directors? Are they really important?
Who ever heard of a director, say 50, 60 years ago? We knew who the singers were and that was all that mattered. The conductor, the orchestra, yes, but a director? We still speak of Tosca by Callas or Don Carlo by Corelli, but nowadays the name of the director is written in big, bold letters at the top of the poster, even before the composer! Many of the directors have also developed a somewhat perverse way of manipulating human feelings, which bothers me. Sometimes I think: do you really want to create something new? Then create something new! Write your own opera!
I admire Pierre Audi very much and I really enjoy working with him. OK, after a few times you know the concept and you know it’s going to be very aesthetic, static too. But he has respect for the singers, we are more to him than just pawns in a game of chess.
I also have a great affinity with the work of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. I did Clari by Halèvy and Otello by Rossini with them, both in Zurich, and we had a lot of fun together. They work in a logical way and their productions are very well put together. Clari may have been updated, but everything is just right. The directors have a kind of sixth sense for what goes with the music, so their productions are very diverse.
Who are the really good conductors? The generation that has almost died out: Nello Santi, Claudio Abbado. But that doesn’t mean they are over, those good old days! I like Yannick Nézet-Séguin immensely, he understands the French style like no other. Unfortunately I have only worked with him once, in 2008 in Salzburg. We did Romeo et Juliette together and the performance was unforgettable! He liked my ‘French way’ of singing so much that he even invited his parents to the performance. For me that was one of the greatest compliments ever!
At the time of our conversation, Osborn is singing Arnold in the DNO production of Guillaume Tell. He first performed this role in the 2007 – 2008 season with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome. After that we could admire him in this role in the ZaterdagMatinee (December 2012) and the general press called the performance a ‘historical event’. And now finally on stage. The difference?
“I have indeed performed the opera concertante a few times, with more or less cuts, so each time it was quite exciting to think which version we would be doing next. At the Matinee, the score was almost complete. As a singer, I have learned to act with my voice, but if I can actually show my feelings on stage as well, not only through my singing but also by the way I move, then that adds an extra dimension.
Is there anything you would like to say to your Dutch audience?
“This is the sixth time I work in Amsterdam. I always love coming back to visit this beautiful city. The people are so kind and welcoming. All of the friends I’ve made from The Dutch National Opera, the members of the chorus, the musical staff, and the production staff have all been so supportive of me and the talents I’ve been given. I am so grateful for the opportunities to perform here, and I truly feel like Amsterdam has become a second home for me. I very much look forward to returning to this unique and wonderful place again in the near future. Sincerely, John Osborn’.
Lynette Tapia and John Osborn in “Parigi o cara” from La Traviata Live at Schloss Braunfels, august 12 2018 :
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Photo’s: Hans Hijmering and Ruth Waltz
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