“No Make-Up!”… Nicola Beller Carbone

Born in Germany, soprano Nicola Beller Carbone grew up in Spain, where she initially studied to be an actress but later turned to singing, studying at the Escuela Superior di Canto of Madrid with Dolores Ripollès. In Munich she studied under Astrid Varnay and in 1991 obtained a permanent contract at the Opernstudio of the State Opera of Munich.
Having begun with the lyrical repertoire (Fiordiligi, Contessa, Tatjana, Mimi, Liu, Violetta, Antonia and so on), her debut as Salome in 2003 marked the shift to a more dramatic register.  She achieved enormous success in this role in various opera houses. After that, she starred in Tosca, Cavalleria rusticana, Wozzeck, Rheingold, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Die Tote Stadt, and so on. Very active in concerts too, Beller Carbone recently sang Die Fledermaus (Vienna, 2010), Francesca da Rimini (La Plat, 2010) and she is currently about to sing Contessa Serperi in the world première of Senso by Marco Tutino, opening title of the 2010-2011 season of Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Then, she will sing Salome again in Montecarlo and Montreal.
Other news concerning Nicola Beller Carbone can be found on her website.
Which is the main feature of your personality?
I’m uninhibited.
Your worst flaw?
Which is your star sign?
Are you superstitious?
No, I’m not.
Are you a spiritual person?
In certain times of my life I feel definitely led by my spiritual side, while in others my pragmatic side prevails.
Have you ever envied someone?
Unfortunately, I have.
What did you dream to become as an adult when you were a child?
A dancer.
Did your family influence your choices?
Not directly, but my parents always left me free to take decisions about myself, as a wise and responsible person. I could say that they taught me to become a person with dialectic and rational abilities, with a great sense of responsibility and commitment.
Which is your most cherished memory?
They are countless: my childhood in Spain, furnishing my first house, my grandma’s cuddles, my first gig with my jazz rock band, dancing wildly all night at a party, sleeping at the beach, looking out from a train window…
The moment you felt the proudest?
When I look at my parents.
The greatest disappointment?
I can’t recall it, seemingly I have repressed it.
What’s missing in your life today?
Time at home.
What are you afraid of the most?
Of being abandoned by those I believe that love me. And I’m afraid of injustice, as well.
Do you have a recurrent dream?
Losing my suitcases, arriving late at the airport, having to go on stage and not knowing which opera is being performed.
How important is money to you?
Other people’s money has no relevance to me, while I try not to give too much importance to mine… It’s all good when I have it, otherwise I find a solution to get by.
Which is the item you like spending money on the most?
There is not one in particular: I’m a big spender by nature.
Do you collect anything?
No, I don’t.
Which are your favorite readings?
Contemporary art books, detective stories, fashion magazines, newspapers, philosophical essays… And most of all I like to read texts in their original language, as far as possible.
Which is your favorite perfume?
It’s a secret.
Favorite city?
Favorite color?
For what? Clothing, house furniture, a painting, a drawing, the bike or the car, a costume, the sky, the air, the skin or the eyes…?
Favorite flower?
All flowers are magnificent, especially in their entourage naturelle.
Your favourite singers?
Ella Fitzgerald, Maria Callas, Billie Holliday, Leyla Gencer, Frank Sinatra, Camaron de la Isla, Estrella Morente, Mina, Joe Cocker, La niña pastori, Mariza, Etha James, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Victoria de los Angeles, Hildegard Behrens, Montserrat Caballè, Concha Piquer, Celia Cruz, Nicolai Ghiaurov and many others…
Which is the first record you ever bought?
Horses by Patti Smith.
The film you love the most?
For every decade I have at least a favorite one, but there are plenty as I am a filmgoer, so I can name some directors I admire: Fellini, Fassbinder, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Almodovar, Billy Wilder, Lucchino Visconti, Godard, David Lynch, Coppola, Spike Lee, Tarantino, Pasolini, Luis Buñuel, Rossellini, Fritz Lang, the Coen brothers….
Your favorite season and why?
Summer because it’s hot and you can dress like a gipsy princess.
How is your relationship with technology and which is the electronic gadget you can’t do without?
I use my laptop pc for practical things like paying my bills via the internet, follow up my email contacts with agencies and theatres, answer questions for interviews like this one and so on… I need a pc and a wi-fi connection to read “El Pais” online in the morning, to check what’s in movie theatres in the town I’m in, decide which restaurant to go to or chat with Skype when I’m in my vocal rest periods. I use my cell phone just for text messages and for phone calls only in a few urgent cases, as I hate talking on the phone.
How’s your attitude towards TV ?
I use it to watch the news and learn or improve the language of the foreign country I’m in, and every now and then I watch movies to relax at night. Unfortunately, most of the times I get angry because of the low quality and the limited choice of broadcasts about everywhere in the world.
How is your relationship with politics?
A big disappointment.
Do you have causes that are very important for you?
The injustice of the world is all over: discrimination in opportunities, favoritism, intolerance towards everything perceived as different, lack of solidarity, lack of respect for human rights, violence of all sorts. Everyone should be granted the right to study to have the necessary cultural weapons to succeed in this world, but unfortunately that’s not how things always go.
Day or night?
Day and night.
Which is the situation you consider the most relaxing?
Laying on a sofa and getting a foot massage.
Tell us your ideal day.
A day that does not need to be planned.
Which is your hideaway?
Vocal silence.
What’s the soundtrack to your everyday life?
Possibly, silence.
What do you miss the most when you’re away from home?
My home itself, my private environment and, of course, the person who lives in it, that is my husband.
The holiday or the trip you’d like to take?
I’ d love to come back to Morocco.
What or who makes you feel embarrassed?
I get embarrassed when I feel I can’t handle a situation and fake people.
How would you define your relation with food?
Excellent, I love to eat and I almost always eat what I want.
Mediterranean diet, mocrobiotics or fast food?
Mediterranean diet.
Your favourite dish?
It’s impossible to answer, there are too many, but surely not sweets.
Red or white wine?
Which is the place where cooking is the worst ever?
The road while walking.
Was music a vocation?
Drama was my vocation.
What would you want someone who doesn’t know your voice to listen to?
I’d have them watching and listening to my Salome, as I believe the two elements must go together.
If you were granted the chance to chose a role, which one would it be?
Working 10 months per year, I don’t have much time to work with my two vocal coaches (Richard Trimborn for the German/Russian repertoire and Bruno Rigacci for the Italian one). I end up taking advantage of work itself, the creative experience during rehearsals and performances. I’m a sort of self-made woman.
What do you do an hour prior to go on stage?
In truth, roles I will never sing: Elektra, Isolde, Lulu, The Great Inquisitor! And for once I would like to be a rockstar like Tina Turner and scream into the microphone in front of ten thousand people.
Have you met Marco Tutino, the composer of Senso, in which you star, and how is your relationship with him?
He is discrete and greatly helpful and generous. I met him in Bologna, before starting to rehearse here in Palermo, and he made me listen to the first ever version for piano and voice of Senso.
Was your role tailored on your voice?
He knew me before composing the opera and knew I was to sing in it: I believe he knew how to use my voice at its best for the role.
Has the original movie version by Luchino Visconti influenced the creation of the characters and how? In case not, in which way are they different, taking into consideration the difference between movies and theatre?
I think it is important to get to know more about a character before playing it. In this case, I’ve obviously seen the movie starring Alida Valli. At the same time, though, reading Camillo Boito’s novel influenced me. When on stage, you have to find a credible balance between showing real emotions and their dramatization. We are not in front of a camera and we are compelled to make understand the last of the spectators in the gallery what’s happening 30 meters down on the stage. Sometimes we have to amplify, magnify emotions to allow the audience to perceive them. By the way, I do believe that the best way to convey emotions is the thought, that is: if I get, as a performer, to understand the character’s thoughts and I can relate to and empathize with them, then I can convey the relevant emotions. In my opinion, the force of the mind carries the emotion, and this is true for both the voice and the acting. One has to have a strong will to be credible on stage. And you need a strong will also to lose control, let go, get in touch with spirituality, to get back to one of the previous questions.
What do you do an hour prior to go on stage?
I can’t do much, as I sit there for make-up one hour and a half prior to go on stage… except standing still, silent while in my mind I recap what’ going to happen on stage and wait…
What’s never missing in your dressing room?
The score of the evening.
What do you think of when looking at yourself in the mirror?
It depends on the day, but generally I’m quite generous with myself.
Your mood at the moment?
Being a person with a normally balanced temper, I’d say cool, good.
What’s your motto?
Don’t expert anyhting, wait and see.
Versione inglese a cura di Paolo Tancredi