Never one to go quietly into retirement, Katia Ricciarelli has been keeping herself busy off the opera stage: television appearances (she's been guest on a handful of Italian cooking shows), movie cameos, theater (she acted in Peter Quilter's "Glorious", a theatrical production about Florence Foster Jenkins). The 64-year-old Italian soprano spoke with Panorama magazine and confessed that she's been blessed to have lived out her dreams although she always realized it could all be gone one day (all translations are under Opera Chic's copyright and credit kthxbi!):
Ricciarelli on being gracious:
"Sometimes I think that I have nothing to dream about, because life gave me everything. And I thank God for it, he gave me dreams and allowed them to become real".
She also spoke about the state of opera, a subject that makes la signora Katia have words:
"Opera singers should never forget that we are dealing with an art that's often dramatically incoherent -- like the guy who yells 'Allarmi! Allarmi!" and then stands still -- or like the lady who has only a few minutes to live and she's still singing, singing, singing... Opera is riddled with incoherent stuff. And it repeats hundred-year-old shows over and over for an audience that never changes, either."
"We need change, we need to renew. Send the old people home, let them retire. Unless we want Italian opera houses to slip into chaos, filled as they are now with stuffed shirts. The present situation is this: opera is an old lady with no makeup on. I train young artists in my Accademia, and as Artistic Director in Lecce (ed: Teatro Politeama Greco) I always promote young artists. I did the same and at Sferisterio di Macerata (ed: she was Artistic Director from 2003 to 2005)."
Ricciarelli has interesting ideas re: budget cuts for Italian opera houses, too:
"We need to accept them. Workers need to be guaranteed, but so much money is wasted pointlessly. Very high fees are paid to old singers who don't have it anymore, who lack any real motivation to be on stage. Don't make me name names, but I remember this singer, in Vienna: as soon as he had a significant break, he ran over to the casino. Still wearing his costume."
Rich people, La Ricciarelli, says, are part of the problem:
"They're cheapasses (in Italian: 'pulciosi'). They never give money to the arts, they park their Ferraris in front of the opera house then ask you for free seats. They never honor their responsibility to be patrons of the arts."
She also takes the time for an impression of her beloved Herbert Von Karajan's heavily-accented Italian, and she says something that impressed Opera Chic a lot. That she's always considered singing for conductors like Karajan, Abbado, Kleiber as "assuming a distinguished responsibility". It's a beautiful way of putting it, and they're probably words to live by.