Renowned composer Elena Kats-Chernin on the creative process behind Diva, and the importance of celebrating our musical heritage.
1. What is your involvement with the upcoming Diva concert?
There are two works of mine in Diva. The first is La Stupenda, a piece specifically written to celebrate the early career of Joan Sutherland and her breakthrough role of Lucia. It was especially written for Amelia Farrugia, which makes it more significant for this occasion. The second song is called Diva, for which Amelia wrote the words. It is designed as a fun show stopper to titillate and to welcome.
2. Could you tell us a bit more about what the composition process for the song Diva looked like, your inspiration, and the collaboration with Amelia Farrugia?
I always love to collaborate with the artists who perform my work. And what better way to be inspired than having the diva herself in the room with you while you work. This is a large part of how the song Diva happened. Amelia and I got together over a period of months to make it just right for the show.
3. As well as textual references, does the song also contain musical references from famous songs and arias?
Yes, there are a number of references, especially to works closely linked to June Bronhill and Joan Sutherland: Vilja, Lucia, even Nessun Dorma (it is well known that Pavarotti's career took off after Joan Sutherland shared her breathing technique with him!).
4. Why do you think it’s important to commemorate the lives and works of these famous divas, and to share that with audiences?
We must always remember to celebrate who we are and who has represented us. It is important not only for the present and for our cultural memory but for the future and for those who will walk after us. Inspiration is the greatest cultural currency we have.
5. Could you share a little bit about the composition process and inspiration for La Stupenda, and what you find particularly inspiring about Dame Joan Sutherland musically and as a figure in Australian music history?
When Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre commissioned this work to celebrate their 25th Anniversary it was with the knowledge that Joan Sutherland is one of the most important Australians to have ever lived. Her standard of excellence is a beacon for us all and she, more than anyone else, showed why Australia and Australians have the capacity to be better than anyone in any field. A mixture of talent, hard work, real grit and inspiration. She was a great supporter of Amelia and saw in her the legacy continuing. I am so pleased to be a small link in this chain of excellence and mentorship. La Stupenda is in 4 parts: her journey overseas, her emergence as a star, the burgeoning of her career (and even her gardening) and her ever present affection and pull to her motherland. Tamara-Anna Cislowska wrote the libretto and included in it a stunning passage of collected superlatives from Dame Joan's reviews from all over the world.
6. What are you most excited about for the Diva concert?
The Diva show is something unique for me to be involved in. I am most excited to be in the audience and watch this stupendous performer in action supported by some wonderful musicians.
Presented by City Recital Hall
Friday 25 August 7.30PM