Interview with Stuart Burrows Apr 6 1997

Q. Do you have a favourite Opera house that you have performed at?

A. Each Opera house has its own character, but I feel a special affinity to Covent Garden, Metropolitan opera, Vienna state and Paris opera because of their own particular traditions.

Q. Opera, oratorio, concerts, recital and television work are all so different. Which gives you the most pleasure?

A. I would say recital work in which there is a freedom of choice of repertoire, but a distinct challenge for each song.

Q. Did you ever find that costumes you wore in opera could sometimes be restrictive in any way?

A. Yes, some costumes were extremely heavy to wear such as Faust's costume in Covent Garden and also the costume that I wore in Maria Stuarda at San Francisco. Movement was restrictive. Insist on working with costumes in rehearsals if possible

Q. Do you have a favourite production that you have sung in and why?

A. I enjoyed singing Hoffman at the Teatre de La Monnaie in Belgium. It was a challenge to versatility with different periods in Hoffmans life.

Q. How long would it take you to learn a role? e.g. Don Ottavio in Italian.

A. A role is memorised but never completely learnt. There is always something that one can add or include or substitute to make the production more credible.

Q. Which was the hardest role to learn and why?

A. The role of Lensky in Eugene Onegin which I had to learn in Russian. The language was completely foreign to me so I had to learn it phonetically. I used transliterations from the Met Opera and managed to learn it six weeks ready to make a recording with Sir Georg Solti for Decca.

Q. How do you set about learning a new role?

A. I start by reading to libretto as a story without depending on any version from a written synopsis by anyone else. I then look for the most relaxing music and learn so that I can use it as a relaxant when trying to memorise difficult parts. i.e. in between repetitions.

Q. You sang at Santa Fe for many years. What was it like to sing at this altitude?

A. One had to acclimatise for at least two weeks before hand to enable the lungs to readjust to the rarefied altitude. Cars have to have their carburettors readjusted because of the different air pressure at such altitude.

Q. Your television series for the BBC was a huge success and your guests all world class. Where did you record the series and why do you think it was so popular?

A. I recorded the series 'Stuart Burrows Sings' in Wales, although one series was recorded in Canada, Finland and Ireland. I believe the reason for it's success was because it included a wide variety of music from musicals to opera and ballads, past and present.

Q. You were born, brought up and still live in Wales. What is it's attraction and is it really the land of song?

A. The attraction is that it is a beautiful country. I love Wales but the blunt truth is that Wales is no more musical than any other country.

Q. Did you have voice training at any time?

A. I only had voice training as a very young child until the age of twelve.

Q. As an opera singers life is so hectic, how did you relax when you spent time at home?

A. I enjoyed being with my family and to get away from it all I would do some gardening. The therapeutic value of waiting for seeds to germinate and grow was inestimable.