Natalie Dessay Tells Charlie Rose That She Wants 'to Create a Revolution in Opera'

Classic Arts News   Natalie Dessay Tells Charlie Rose That She Wants 'to Create a Revolution in Opera'
"I want to make a revolution in opera," Natalie Dessay said on national television last night. "I want to initiate a movement so that the opera goes more and more toward theater."

The coloratura soprano, who is currently starring in the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor that opened the new season at the Metropolitan Opera, was speaking with Charlie Rose on his nightly PBS program. The wide-ranging interview covered her early training in dance and spoken drama, her feelings while on stage, the pressure of a Met season opening, her own reaction to her performance as Lucia, her preference for comedy, working with stage directors in general and with Mary Zimmerman (who staged the Met's Lucia), nationality and singing, the operations on her vocal cords, and her desire to make opera theatrically compelling. She even revealed the movie role she'd most like to have played.

Some selected quotes:

    On seeing herself on video: "It's a complete stranger for me, this girl on stage ... even the voice sounds strange to me ... I have the impression that, 'I couldn't do that'."

    On her vision of opera: "My dream would be an empty stage — empty — one chair and bodies. The bodies of the singers — but singers able to act and to play as actors. That is my dream."

    On the problem with her dream: "But where can we do that? Because, of course, when people go to opera, they don't want to have an empty stage. Particularly here in America. They want to have entertainment, they want to have a big show — they want to have Broadway as opera."

    On the opera world's feelings about her "revolution": "Nobody wants me to do it ... But I don't care."

    On whether what she does on stage is easy: "No ... I have to pretend that [the singing] is easy when I'm on stage, of course. And in order to be able to pretend that, I have to work like a dog on the technique."

    On the Met's advertising campaign for Lucia: "I own the buses in this city."

The interview remains available in streaming video on The Charlie Rose Show's website — visit

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