March 10, 2008
The last two concerts have been incredibly exciting, in part because they’ve been in two major capitals of Europe, where the audiences have been wildly enthusiastic both about LACO and about Vesselina Kasarova. At the Théatre des Champs-Elyéees in Paris last night there was a mob scene in the lobby, with people waiting to buy tix for last night’s performance as well as to pick up tickets at will call. There seems to be a system, which I couldn’t ever quite figure out, whereby empty seats not filled by subscribers are allowed to be filled by people who come buying tickets for the night. They pay some reduced price and stand in some kind of waiting area, and just before the concert started, suddenly all the empty seats got filled. So not only was it sold out, but it was oversold, if you like. The house was absolutely packed, literally up to the rafters. It’s a beautiful theatre that a has a wonderful history of all kinds of fabulous musicians having played there and playing there to this day, so for me at least, it was very exciting to be there.
In both cities I would say the audiences warmed up incredibly, and for me it was really sad last night in some ways at the same time that I was enjoying it tremendously because I knew it was Vesselina Kasarova’s last concert with us. For the first time she came to a post-concert reception at Warner and Carol Henry’s. She’s very disciplined about her work, she doesn’t go out after concerts, she’s very careful about avoiding the people who are sick, etc. which of course is very understandable because her body is her instrument and it’s very important for her to maintain her health and so forth. She’s a fascinating woman, and she has an unbelievable range, from very low, smoky tones to extremely high – you would barely know that she was a mezzo at some moments. Because she speaks Bulgarian, Italian, and German, she couldn’t speak to some of the people in the group, but she was of course able to communicate both with Andrea in Italian and with me and with Jeff in German. So I felt very lucky to be able to get to know her a little bit.
Vesselina is 42 years old, she’s lived in Zurich, Switzerland for the last 20 years, she’s married to a Swiss man, and she has a 9-year-old son. She told me early on in our acquaintance on that having her son was the best thing that she had ever created in her life. Nevertheless, she has a difficult life in the sense that she’s very rarely home, because she’s constantly on the road. The reason that we weren’t able to have her in Los Angeles is that she basically doesn’t want to go that far away from her family, but of course she travels all over Europe and performs in many of the major halls here on a regular basis. So she told me that she really misses her son. She talked to me last night at the Henrys’ a little about her son and what a sensitive child he is; that he’s musical but he’s more artistic than he is musical. I could just see the pride in her face.
She’s very charming and one of the things that I was personally very touched by was the way that she bid Devin farewell. Devin, of course, has no language in common with her, but he was very much her support backstage throughout the tour and she obviously was very appreciative of everything that he had done for her, so she said a very warm and fond farewell to him, I thought, at the end of the evening. It was also, I think, really exciting for the patrons to have her at the parties because it was the first time she’d shown up.