"I have dreamed about these songs for so long"

Op vrijdag 24 en zondag 26 februari maakt sopraan Olena Tokar haar debuut bij het Residentie Orkest. Zij zingt de Sieben frühe Lieder van Alban Berg en soleert in de Vierde symfonie van Gustav Mahler. Wij stelden haar alvast enkele vragen.

You will be performing for the first time with the Residentie Orkest The Hague. Are you looking forward to meeting the orchestra and conductor Nicholas Collon?

I am very pleased to receive an invitation to work with the Residentie Orkest The Hague under Nicholas Collon. This is important to me because I have never worked with these wonderful musicians before. I am particularly pleased to be working with Nicholas Collon as he is a young and talented conductor, with a fresh and contemporary vision of music.

Have you ever sung the Sieben frühe Lieder by Berg? What do the songs mean to you?

I love the metaphorical poetry of the Berg songs. Music can be considered as art and abstract and I feel that the poetry makes it understandable for people. The metaphors give space and time to appreciate and fantasise about the music and story and allows them to explore the feelings from it. These songs I compare to that of a beautiful painting.

I have dreamt about these songs for so long so am very pleased to now be singing them.

How do you prepare for these songs and Mahler 4?

I have performed Mahler 4 on many occasions. The way I prepare is to understand the composition of the piece. With all Mahler’s symphonies with voice, the voice replicates that of angels; untouchable and pure and it is like an addition to the music, floating above the accompaniment of the orchestra. The voice completes it.
As for the songs of Berg the orchestra creates a colorful canvas and the voice takes the main role. Each song reflects the world in which to live. These songs contain lots of musical information and text, so they need to be very carefully prepared, to be able to successfully paint the right picture. You must feel and express a different emotion in each song and you must be in a good mindset to express this well.

When and why did you decide to become a professional singer? Who or what inspired you to do this?

I grew up with music – it was always in our house. Although my parents were not musicians, my sister followed a musical path which inspired me. I met lots of great musicians and teachers who live for music and this was infectious and continued to inspire me. Music is my life and is always in my heart.

Do you visit other (classical) concerts in your spare time?

I love chamber music concerts so I attend as many as I can- I am not limited to opera or symphonic music. By going to lots of concerts, it really inspires me with my work and opens my eyes to new possibilities, to develop myself.

What do you listen in your car when you’re driving? Or do you sing in your car?

Most of my travel is done by plane or by train. If I am travelling to a concert, I will listen to any type of music- including popular music, but something that is light and does not require lots of concentration. Of course, it depends what your mood is.

I am very excited to be coming to sing in The Hague this month!