“No make-up!”… Ann Hallenberg

Which is the main feature of your personality?
I’m trying to be kind to everyone and believe that other people do the same. Perhaps I’m a bit naïve.
Your worst flaw?
Laziness.Which is your star sign?
Are you superstitious?
A bit. Wouldn’t it be boring if we knew everything!?
What did you dream to become as an adult when you were a child?
I decided to become an opera singer when I was 6, later I started doubting that was possible I wanted to become an archaeologist.
Which are your favorite readings?
I like to read and read most kinds of books, on travels it’s more important that it is a really thick book!
Which is the book you have loved the most so far?
I keep returning to “The Lord of the Rings”.
Have you ever sought revenge?
Did your family influence your choices?
Yes, but in a good way. My parents allowed me to go after my dream to become a singer, but made me finish my studies first to be able to continue on University if need be. That was wise; this business is so hard and insecure. As a teenager you can’t know if your talent is enough.
Was music a vocation?
What’s missing in your life today?
More time to be with my family. To be a “normal” mother and wife more often. It’s tough when my daughter has a cold and I must avoid hugging her.
The greatest disappointment?
Every time I haven’t got a role, not because of my voice, but because of looks or personality. It hurts and is difficult to accept. On the other hand have I often experienced that soon after a lost opportunity another, even better chance comes, which I hadn’t been able to do if the first thing hadn’t failed. Now, I’m trying to look on disappointments with curiosity; “What’s going to happen now?”
Which is your most cherished memory?
My wedding and the birth of our daughter.
How important is money to you?
Life is easier if you have it…
Which is the item you like spending money on the most?
We’re living in an old house and renovating gobbles up more money than I like to think of!
Do you collect anything?
I like dollhouses and miniatures. I don’t have time for it at the moment, but soon I hope!
Do you have a recurrent dream?
What are you afraid of the most?
For something bad to happen to my family.
Which is your most ambitious dream?
I’m very happy and grateful for my life as it is. I’ve come much further that I thought possible. But… of course I’ll try to get even better!
Are ideals, passions important?
Yes, as long as they don’t make you lose your objectiveness and start seeing everything only in black and white.
The moment you felt the proudest?
The evening, shortly before his death, when I told my father that I was going to make my début at La Scala. He got so proud and happy!
Your biggest challenge?
Jumping in as Ariodante on stage in Munich with only one evening rehearsal!
What or who makes you feel embarrassed?
When other people make a fool of themselves. My own mistakes I can live with.
Which is the situation you consider the most relaxing?
At home, looking my absolute worst, working in my garden or renovating the house!
Your favorite subject at school?

Favorite city?
I’m not a city person, but I feel good in most Italian cities.
Favorite color?
Favorite flower?
The holiday or the trip you’d like to take?
Holliday for me is to be allowed to be at home and wake up in my own bed for 2 weeks! But a remake of our honeymoon in northern Scotland would be nice.
Day or night?
Tell us your ideal day.
Waking up without alarm clock, a long, slow breakfast and then something interesting to do. I like to work with my hands, so I can see what I have achieved! That’s not possible in my work! It’s gone with the wind, so to speak!
Which is your hideaway?
Home! An old vicarage in the Swedish countryside. Farmland, cows, wood. And peace and quiet!
The film you love the most?
I watched “Doubt” some days ago. I’m still thinking of it. I like drama and suspense, not so much “Romantic comedies”.
Your favorite season?
Spring. I love the first thawing of snow, the first chirping of birds and the first day you feel the sun warming your face again.
Which is the place where cooking is the worst ever?
In general food is bad when it’s out of place. Italian is bad in France, French is bad in Germany, Chinese is bad in Sweden etc. I like to try the food from the region, it’s almost always good.
How would you define your relation with food?
The dish you cook the best?
Anything with a lot of herbs and spices in it!
Red or white wine?
What’s never missing in your refrigerator?
Milk, cream, cheese.
What’s the soundtrack to your life?
Perhaps something from “Arie e danze antiche” by Respighi. They have a special meaning to me and I like the mix between ancient music and modern orchestration!
Your favourite singer?
Farinelli, Carestini and Marietta Marcolini!….ehehehe!
Has being good-looking affected your singing career someway?
I don’t see myself as good-looking… at least not without the makeup-department! However, how we artists look is getting more and more important, and the directors have a frightening power to choose someone because his or her looks instead of how she sings.
How did your voice change through the years and how do you take care of it, choosing the roles and the repertoire to perform?
The voice does change, sometimes without any obvious reason. I started as a mezzo, but when insecurity made me doubt my abilities I started to choose alto-roles. Now, suddenly the voice has changed again, and I have moved up. Also, as I grow older, I try to avoid the young-men roles on stage and want to do more interesting female characters. (I never looked like a man anyway!)
If you were granted the chance to choose a role, which one would it be?
Hard to say. I am lucky to have done most of my dream roles already! Ariodante, Agrippina, Dejanira, Isabella (L’italiana in Algeri).  I’m convinced that there are many more fantastic roles in the forgotten, never played Operas in libraries and archives!
Which is the first record you ever bought?
Die Zauberflöte.
I was 7 and could only pay half the cost, my parents “sponsored” with the rest!
How’s your attitude towards TV?
There are good and interesting things there, but they drown in the enormous amount of junk!
What do you do an hour prior to go on stage?
My Husband says: Being completely impossible!…I like to come to the theatre quite early, to change from my private self to “Mme Hallenberg”. I don’t have any routines with concentrating or such, they only make me nervous. I like to chat with my colleagues and the crew!
What’s never missing in your dressing room?
Water and mint tea if possible.
What do you think of when looking at yourself in the mirror?
“It could be worse…”
How would you prefer to die?
Peacefully at old age.
Your mood at the moment?
Relaxed after a long winter holiday with my family.
What’s your motto?
Never hurt anyone, always do your best, and for the rest you can do whatever you like.
(From “Cardamom village” a Norwegian children’s book)