What drew you to this project?
I had my debut as Maria Stuarda two years ago — I’m doing her again at the moment at the Zurich opera house — and next year will be my debut as Anna Bolena. So I had been playing with the idea, and then the possibility came to record in Rome with Antonio Pappano, the chorus, orchestra and the young singers. I think there was no question; it was a wish, a hope and then it was a dream come true.
Were you impressed by the young singers of Rome Opera?
They performed with all their heart and all their love, and they were completely committed. We need young singers and it’s wonderful for someone at the beginning of their career to see how opera recording works. Just to be more focused on the music, and bring everything you would normally cover with stage acting, movement and the visual — you are forced to put everything into your voice.
How different musically are the three roles?
I would say they’re quite different. What connects them is that they are powerful women in very dramatic moments. Their femininity, hope and love is imprisoned by their circumstances, but Donizetti shows their hearts. Anna is painted like a woman who is blinded by her ambition; she’s more lyric, the tessitura slightly lower than Maria. In Maria’s music you feel a lot of longing: it’s a little bit more silvery and softer. Elizabeth’s reign was the longest, but it was at the cost of her soul, her love and her body. Donizetti finds beautiful music for all three of them.
“The roles of Anna, Maria and Elisabetta make high technical demands on the singer, as well as calling for an exceptionally wide expressive range. Diana Damrau, luminous of voice, is surely the perfect exponent of this repertoire: adept at surmounting the music’s technical challenges in its dramatic moments, yet capable of exhibiting the tenderness for which these roles call.”