We have been thrilled to welcome several artists to the Askonas Holt family over the past months, among them the French-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig. As the 2020/21 season kicks off, we take a look at Elsa’s rising career and ask her some questions about her musical life.
This season, Elsa looks forward to singing Sifare (Mitridate) at the Staatsoper Berlin and on tour with the Musiciens du Louvre. She plays the Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro) and Violetta (La traviata), also with the Staatsoper Berlin. Another highlight is her appearance in the title role of Manon at the Hamburgische Staatsoper.
Elsa was named Operalia’s Best Female Singer in 2016, and was honoured with the Danish Crown Prince Couple’s Cultural Award last year. She is a celebrated member of the Staatsoper Berlin’s ensemble, where she has starred in the roles of Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice), Diane (Hippolyte et Aricie), and many more. Recent opera highlights include appearances at the Opéra de Paris, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and Opernhaus Zürich. She has featured onstage with many of the world’s greatest orchestras – including the Staatskapelle Berlin, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra – under the batons of conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, Fabio Luisi, and Franz Welser-Möst. She is an exclusive recording artist with Warner Classics, with whom she has released the albums Miroir(s) and Morgen.
We look forward to our new partnership with Elsa, and on this occasion spoke with her about her artistic motivations, recording activities, and more.
1. What originally inspired you to become a singer?
To become an opera singer has never been a question. I never asked myself if I wanted to be one – I just become one. So it is difficult for me to answer “why am I an opera singer?”! I think it was in me from my birth as I was nearly born on stage! My mother is an opera singer and I was lucky enough that she took me everywhere with her when she was singing. So opera become my second home, and at the age of 6 I was on stage myself.
2. Your latest studio recording, Morgen, was released earlier this year. What is the story behind the album? Why did you choose to program these pieces?
I love the art of songs and Lieder, and I think it is really important for me to be as much an opera singer as a recital singer. It requires different strength, a different approach and together with opera it represents for me everything an artist with his or her voice should try to express.
This album was, after my first album with only opera arias, like a reminder to myself (and to the public) that I should never forget to put time and work into this piano repertoire! The program itself was a long process as we wanted to create something new with my pianist, Jonathan Ware. Finding a program that feels organic and “natural” (though original) is actually the start of the artistic creation, and I love this part. At one point you don’t know if you create the program or if the program came to you like evidence!
3. You performed Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at this year’s Salzburg Festival, part of the 100th anniversary season. What did this appearance mean to you?
It means everything! It means that I had work in a moment where the cultural and opera world is struggling with a huge question mark. It means I could be on stage, sing, act, be elevated and inspired by wonderful colleagues and human beings. It means I could also have my debut is this role I was supposed to sing in Berlin in April, just before all the opera houses closed down. And finally it means I have now one of the most demanding Mozart roles in my life!
4. What motivated you to become an Opera for Peace ambassador?
Opera means the world to me. With my passion for opera, I have learned more about life, about courage, requirement, generosity, questioning ourselves, pushing our limits than in any other matters in life. Those are beautiful values, and music is so important for people struggling with themselves or in a difficult situation. Opera for Peace is a way of giving a chance to everyone who needs it. And if I can help somehow with my voice, to give courage to somebody else to follow his or her dream, this would also be a true accomplishment!
Photo by Simon Fowler