“Tenor is not a vocal register, it is a medical diagnosis”

the essential
Slovak tenor Pavol Breslik will sing “lieder and melodies” this Monday at the invitation of the National Capitol Opera. A first which he is delighted, because he knows the importance and the quality of the Toulouse orchestra.

Addressing composers as diverse as Dvořák and Schubert, Pavol Breslik will be accompanied by Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau. It promises an eclectic, multilingual and enjoyable programme.

You lived in Marseille: could we do this interview in French?

Oh no, I prefer to speak in English, my French is far too limited. Yes, I spent a year in Marseille but all I remember is… the sun and Zinedine Zidane! (laughter) I’ve never played in Toulouse and I’m really looking forward to it: the Orchester de Toulouse is known all over the world and I’ve only heard wonderful things about the professionalism and talent of the musicians.

On Monday you will sing lieder, “tailor-made” melodies…

I composed this program in Vienna and I like it very much. It allows a wide variety of reliefs and atmospheres. And then, I am a fan of Schubert. For me, it’s the biggest. He brought a simplicity to the lieder that makes us always listen to them with immense pleasure.

How does a tenor prepare his voice?

Tenor is not a vocal register, it is a diagnosis. You have to be a doctor to validate your quality of “tenor”. Every morning, you check that you are still a tenor, that your voice is still there! It is difficult, of course, and it takes years of work to become a good tenor. It takes a lot of physical and mental training: you have to think like a tenor. Originally, I wanted to be low, but God gave me this gift, so I must honor and protect it.

Tell us about the program you will be presenting on Monday…

Dvorak’s songs are free, a bit like the gypsy spirit can be free and break free from borders and frames. You have to imagine a bird locked in a cage, or a wild horse that you want to bridle: it’s impossible, the desire for freedom is too great, too powerful. I will sing Schubert, so I told you how much I love him, and poems by Victor Hugo set to music by Franz Liszt. These texts, “Oh! When I sleep”, or “Child, if I were king”, are magnificent. It’s very “heroic” and full of love. Finally, I will sing tunes by Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský, a Slovak composer less known than the other three, but with superb melodies.

You will sing in four languages: proof that music is definitely universal…

When a child is born, he sings, makes nonsense noises, but he communicates his anger, his joy, his sadness. Music is our language, common to all.

Does being an opera singer of your caliber make the public forget technique and virtuosity, retaining only emotion?

But of course ! The most important thing is the story I sing, the words and the melody. You obviously need technique to pull this off, but a demonstration of virtuosity, how boring! When I listen to a singer, any singer, I don’t care about his technique: if I don’t get goosebumps, I’m bored. If the public comes to listen to me sing, I want them to come out of the room after experiencing a lot of emotions.

Recital by Pavol Breslik (tenor) and Malcolm Martineau (piano) with the Opéra National du Capitole de Toulouse, Monday January 16 at 8 p.m. at the Théâtre du Capitole. Single price: €20.
Reservations on billetterie.theatre, orchestra.toulouse-metropole.fr