the essentials In her house near Agen, between a castle wall and a wide open bay on the Garonne plain, Béatrice Uria-Monzon returns from the musical creation “Soulier de Satin” at the Paris Opera. A small lemon in a large glass of water (“I didn’t go shopping”) and she goes in search of her bag, from which she leaves “Assoluta”, her first solo album after 30 years of career. Eleven Italian pieces, dramatic soprano roles, that’s absolutely it.
You have already played in around fifteen opera recordings, but today are you only releasing your first solo CD?
Yes, it may seem surprising, since I’ve been singing for thirty years, and when people were surprised, I advised them to ask the record companies … And by chance I met the director of Aparté Records and dared to tell him that I want to make an album with great Italian melodies, Tosca, Gioconda, Norma, Macbeth … I know them because I sang them on the show “Callas” that was created with Alain Duault [donné à Auch en juin 2018]. And even if it means singing Italian melodies, you can also take a Verdian orchestra, the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, with a conductor I really like, Fabrizio Carminati.
He comes out on time with the lifting of the restrictions on Covid!
Yes, but it wasn’t deliberate, we recorded it in 2019, then everything stopped … we made the decision to release it three months ago without knowing where we would be with the covid and luckily it happens after deconfining.
With “Assoluta” you will achieve the title of Diva?
No, I’m not a diva: with this title from Assoluta I pay tribute to the legends of the last century without wanting to compare myself: Callas, Caballe or closer to us, Renée Flemming. What is certain is that I am taking a step on the vocal level, that of the dramatic soprano, after I was referred to as the mezzo for this role of Carmen, which I played more than 300 times. But in 2012 I took over the roles of the sopranos in “La Tosca” because I noticed that I felt comfortable in the treble. This record is a way of confirming that, especially with those who still doubt it or who haven’t heard me in years.
Have you always mastered your career on your own?
There’s a little bit of that, I have an agent who acts as a go-between with the theater directors, but I don’t have a coach, press officer, or assistant. There have been events in my life, the death of my parents, my divorce that made me focus on certain things, especially raising my daughter while I was singing around the world for nine months out of twelve. . I was almost in survival mode, I didn’t ask myself a lot of questions about my career or my image! Anyway, it’s not in my temperament, I’m here to serve art, not use art as Michel Serres said. [philosophe, et ami agenais, disparu en 2019] about some artists.
Didn’t living far from Paris hinder you?
Not at all, I’m three twenty from Paris, most of the singers don’t live there and those who are there don’t work any more than I do.
The star system does not spare the lyrics, the image is of great importance!
Yes it is, and I don’t find that very happy. I saw a cover of “Carmen” on which we see a half-naked woman, surrounded by hands, who tries to touch her, I see young artists singing, legs apart, with cutouts to the navel! In the age of MeToo and the fight against harassment, you have to know what you want! Young artists who have three times as many roles for three times fewer roles than before are being pushed by the record companies.
You mention Carmen, your favorite mezzo, but it’s Marie-Nicole Lemieux who she’ll play at the Capitol in January 2022 …
What a good idea, I admire you very much and say bravo to Jean-Christophe Ghristi [directeur de la musique du Capitole de Toulouse] the French singer invites to Toulouse, this was not the case before him. Years ago Marie-Nicole asked me what I thought of the role, I had to tell her that Carmen is not a slut for me, but a subtle, fragile person, and that her sensuality is not only in his body, but in his voice lies.
Your departure from the role was planned for 2019 at the Stade de France with Roberto Alagna?
Yes, but the Covid has arrived … From the postponement to the cancellation, we finally found an appointment on June 18, 2022. I still have tenderness for Carmen and am still amazed at the celebrity and ignorance that surrounds her. Everyone knows her, but who tells you she’ll end up dying, killed by her lover? It is the kind of news we read in the newspaper every week.
In the Capitol you will open the season with “La Gioconda” on September 24th, a show that according to the program “is not recommended for under 16s” …
I am hallucinating! I’ve already sung it in this production and don’t see what can be shocking. There are naked women at some point, nothing shocking to be honest, but it may be a way to protect yourself from possible attacks like the ones popping up all over the place today. That won’t stop me from singing this great role again, exactly to the extent I am today.
How did you survive the pandemic?
In March of last year, I was very happy to be able to put my luggage away and to be forced to stay at home. I ended up with no visibility, everything was obliterated over time. I didn’t do anything for two months, so much so that the prospect of quitting my job to keep going came up. Maybe it was a sign to accept, after all, I had a great career that I don’t regret. A pianist friend called me and asked me what I was doing … and he had grades. I felt like I was getting a Musik IV, the adrenaline skyrocketed. I told myself this is still my job!