Here’s a great interview with Diana Damrau, the soprano of whom I have spoken so fondly in the past. Of particular note is this bit right here:
Kaplan: Now, you know, if this was the political world, the government world, this would be an historic moment. Even in the opera, it’s no small matter – the Queen is stepping down. And at such a young age! Why?
Damrau: Why? Well, first of all, I think “Queen of the Night” is among the roles you should sing for several periods of time in your career. So I call it “extreme sports.” You have only fifteen minutes onstage, all complete. Well, you have to be pinpoint accurate; you have to show everything in that moment. And the second aria is very, very dramatic and very high. And, well, the demands on this role is extreme. And everybody, even the littlest child, can hear if something goes wrong. So there’s a lot of pressure and when you’re not 100 percent fit, you can also really hurt your vocal chords, and you need time to recover. And, well, it’s just a little bit too risky, and for me in my case, there are just – I love performing this role. I really, I don’t want to give it up, and I never say never, you never know! Well, I didn’t accept any more new performances also because I have new roles coming up, big role debuts, so I have to focus on that. And I don’t want to stress too much the very, very high notes, but I don’t want to give them up.
When I talked about about the difficulty of singing the “Queen Of The Night” role in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” I paraphrased an interview I dimly remembered in which a noted Queen described the many problems associated with the role. I’m certain that it wasn’t this interview, but I’ll be damned if Ms. Damrau isn’t outlining precisely the same points that I’d remembered.
Maybe I’d heard a different Diana Damrau interview?
Well, it’s a great interview. It’s too bad that she’s retiring from the Queen of the Night business. Of Diana Damrau I can comfortably say “What a dame!” secure that the phrase works no matter how you define that term.