Swedish tenor Leif Aruhn Solén will perfom the role of Rinaldo in Armida. This will be his second visit to Australia and he can’t wait to call Sydney home.
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER RINALDO IN ARMIDA?
Rinaldo is said to be the bravest of all the Christian crusaders. In fact, he is so successful, that he imposes the single largest threat of capturing Jerusalem. That is why Armida has been sent to destroy him by means of seduction. At the start of the opera, Rinaldo is already under Armida’s spell. The plot of the opera basically revolves around his struggles of battling feelings of duty vs. his amorous feelings towards Armida.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF BECOMING A CHARACTER FOR STAGE? WHAT DO YOU FIND IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO DISCOVER?
The preparation work for a big role like Rinaldo is mainly musical. I started studying the score 10 months ago and have been living with the role, on and off, ever since. As I work with the music, more and more details become visible, which gives me images of what Haydn may have wanted Rinaldo express at various moments in the opera. All these various musical intentions, together with modern psychology, then gives me tools to bring to the rehearsal process. It must be said, however, that the actual stage work to 95% happens during the stage rehearsals, which start at the end of May. As a singer, I of course come with my ideas and visions of Rinaldo, but they then need to be developed and coordinated with the visions of the creative team and with my colleagues on stage.
I have many questions about Rinaldo, and I very much look forward to starting the stage work to search for answers. Rinaldo poses a challenge in that he is very emotional and expresses weakness in large parts of the opera. How does one make this into a believable hero? How does an 18th century version of a hero translate into the 21st century, where our image of heroes are masculine men that express as little emotions as possible?
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO SYDNEY BEFORE? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO?
My first time in Australia was in 2013. I sang at the Evangelist in a staged version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at Opera Queensland in Brisbane. After the last performance, I went down to Sydney for five days, and I absolutely loved it. I am very much looking forward to getting to know the city better. It is a privilege to get to work and live in Sydney for a month and not just pay the city a visit as tourist. I know that once Armida is over, I will have some sort of home feeling about Sydney.
I have to mention that I overall have a very special feeling about Australia, as do most Swedes. It is basically as far away as one can come from Sweden and thus Australia has some sort of mythical, dreamlike aura to us. The musical connections between Sweden and Australia are also very strong. Our pop group ABBA reached a very special status in your country. It was not by chance that the first two movies, that were allowed to use ABBA’s music, both were Australian: Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT PINCHGUT OPERA?
I know that Pinchgut Opera is one of few high level opera companies that dare explore the early, often more unknown, opera repertoire. The very intention of Pinchgut Opera, to rediscover baroque and early classical masterpieces, rhymes very well with my singing career, who mainly has been within that genre. I am therefore thrilled to get to know the company and it’s audience.