Find out about Christopher Maltman’s voyage into the world of film…
You’ve been busy making another opera movie – is it a different experience from a staged work?
Very! As opera singers we surf this ridge of chaos that is a live performance – it’s all about controlling the sweep of it. Making a film, you do everything completely out of order in tiny little chunks: you have no idea how it’s going to be edited and no concept of the finished product. It’s such an abstract process – and it’s very, very, very difficult!
Does your vision of Don Giovanni – yours and Kaspar’s the director – end up working?
I think so. I mean, it’s difficult for me to get perspective on something that I’ve been so involved in, but having seen it for the sixth or seventh time last Saturday I think it’s tremendously successful. It’s a very brave piece of work and it doesn’t respect opera too much. Opera on film has a really troubled history; Kaspar hasn’t just thrown the baby out with the bathwater, he’s thrown the bath out of the window as well!
Is this the way forward for the relationship between opera and film?
I think so – I mean, I don’t think they’re ever going to be happy bedfellows, because they’re both so selfish as art-forms. And you know, film works on great subtlety and understated expression while opera is about these grand emotions.
Song is a little subtler isn’t it?
Yes, absolutely. In a song recital it’s all about the gradations of dynamic and emotion throughout the entire evening, not about the single song, and so, yes, I suppose there is a parallel there. Perhaps that stood me in quite good stead for the movie experience.
Wigmore Hall Live has just released you’re schöne Mullerin…
Live performance is where it begins and ends for me, so live recordings are – and you’ll have to forgive the pun – a happy medium. It points our focus back towards what we really should be looking at which is the actual art-form itself. To get the atmosphere of a real performance of a piece and then put it onto a disc is a really good thing. And there’s an exchange of emotions with the audience: when a song cycle evolves, you can feel the audience with you – sometimes it sort of spontaneously forces you into a new direction. You can’t manufacture that.
The film Juan was released in Demark on 7 April 2011. Christopher Maltman appears alongside fellow Askonas Holt artist Mikhail Petrenko.