In Touch With...Galina Gorchakova

Soprano Galina Gorchakova made her unforgettable Western debut in the role of Renata ( Fiery Angel ) at the 1991 BBC Promenade Concerts to world-wide acclaim and made her Covern Garden debut in the same role in 1992. Since then she has appeared in opera and concert in the most important musical centers of the world.

Born in Russia, Galina Gorchakova studied at the Novosibirsk Music Academy and Conservatoire and was a prizewinner in the Moussorgsky and Glinka Competitions.

In addition to her continuing work with the Kirov, both in St. Petersburg and on tour, she sang Tosca at Covern Garden and at the Bastille Opera ( with Placido Domingo ), Madame Butterfy at La Scala, Milan, with Riccardo Chally and in Tokio with the Salto Kinen Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, Eugene Onegin at the Bastille Opera and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan; performances of Ruslan and Ludmila, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and Sadko with the Kirov Opera at the Edinburgh Festival and performances of Aida at the Concertgebouw and La Forza del Destino at the Theatre des Champs elysees, Paris, with the Kirov Opera. She returned to Covern Garden in Tosca and to the Metropolitan Opera, New York, for a new production of Eugene Onegin with Antonio Pappano and to La Scala, Milan in Tosca under Semjon Bychkov.

After her highly acclaimed recital debut in the West at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 1994, she has been invited to give recitals in Berlin, London, Lisbon, Milan, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Korea, Vienna and Geneva and has appeared in concept with Orchestra in, amond other cities, Hong Kong, Helsinki with Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Brussels with Antonio Pappano, in Dublin and in Belfast.

She recently made a recording with the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale in Florence under Seiji Ozawa of excerpts from Tosca and Manon Lescaut together with Neil Shicoff on the Phillips Classics label, which was released this season.

I am passionate about:

I am passionate about nature. I love the woods, the fields, and the sea.

Role model and/or mentor:

My parents were both opera singers. As a very young child, I could name the different singers and the arias whenever I heard them. When I was older ( 6 or 7 years old ), I would say to myself: "I would sing this differently, or do it in another way on the stage."

The best advice I ever received:

I cannot name one concrete person or one advice. There are many. But you know, principals in life change as you grow. I depend on my own common sense. I would say: "Always go forward, forward, forward, never looking back!"

I need:

More than anything in life I need love. Without love a person is not complete. An ideal life for me is not to be at the top of whatever I am doing, but to have love in my life. I sing to make others feel better, to make people do good deeds, and love each other more.

My quote:

"You are born naked and you die naked, taking nothing with you when you go!"

What has happened to the state support for the arts, since the change in Russia?

In the past, the Soviet Government took good care of the development of the performing arts, but unfortunately they did not pay the artists well. The government would take all the money for itself. Whenever famous artists performed in foreign countries, the Soviet Government collected 90% of their salaries. For example, if you made $1000 dollars, you as the performer could only take $100 dollars, the rest would go to the government. Now it is different. We are able to collect all of the money. But there are shortcomings in this system as well. As you know, all over the world the arts are supported by the affluent. But now a lot of the funds go to sports and to popular music. That is why there can be a decline in the quality of art.

What is the worst catastrophe you ever encountered during a performance?

It happened when I was performing La Tosca in Houston, Texas. At the end of the opera, when Tosca leaps to her death, there should always be a buffer behind the wall, for her to fall on. When I approached the spot to jump, I noticed there was nothing there. I saw the stage technican pointing to a mattress in a different area. So, I slowly, slowly took side steps, while singing the final aria, and then I closed my eyes, and jumped. Of course, afterwards it was very funny!

When will you perform next in the United States?

I will be in Los Angeles, in the production of "Oueen of Spades" with Placido Domingo in August 2001.

Where is your family? Where do you live?

I live in St. Petersburg. My 13-year-old son, who lives with my mother, also lives in St. Petersburg. I have just finalizes my divorce from my husband. And I feel wonderful about this. I am talented, beautiful, wealthy, and I work like a horse. My former husband, however, wanted to only have fun at my expense. Well, I stopped that!

How is the vocal training in Russia, as compared to the United States?

I don't know about the American schooling, but I can only judge by the many American talents that are performing all over the world. Therefore, I must say that the schooling here must be very strong. It is definitely stronger than the Italian school at the present time. The Italian training of opera singers is dying. Maube it is because of the country's passion for soccer, or maybe because of political reasons. Unfortunately for Italy, many of their maestros moved to America for better pay. We Russians have a saying: "The fish search for deeper waters, but people go where they can live better!"


May/June 2000 - InTouch Magazine