Her favorite place to sing

Israeli soprano Chen Reiss comes home to perform at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

February 14, 2013 12:10
4 minute read.
Chen Reiss

Her favorite place to sing. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Internationally acclaimed Israeli soprano Chen Reiss has returned home to perform in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art concert series. On Saturday, she will sing Mozart’s Concert Aria for Piano and Soprano and a scene and rondo from Idomeneo for violin and soprano, as well as “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra under Eyal Ein Habar and pianist Michael Brown and cellist Nick Canellakis (both from the US) and French violinist Arnaud Sussmann will participate in the concert. The program also features Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 and his Violin Concerto No. 1.

Starting her vocal studies in Israel, Reiss moved to New York at 20. Three years later, she launched her European career, after being accepted to the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. This was followed by debuts at La Scala, the Salzburg Festival and opera houses in Berlin, Hamburg, Paris and Vienna.

“Vienna is a very important stage because I’ve been singing leading roles there,” says the singer in a phone interview on the eve of her Israeli performance. “I have also been performing with important orchestras worldwide, including Japan and the States.”

In addition to her many CDs, Reiss recently recorded two albums on the prestigious British label Onyx. “One is called Liaison, which has won several awards, and the other is entitled The Nightingale and the Rose,” says the 34- year-old singer.

The latter features 25 love songs by different composers, accompanied by piano and sung in seven languages. “What connects the songs is that they are about nightingales or roses because these are symbols of love, which existed in all cultures and in all periods, and inspired poets and composers. Innocent love, unrequited love, erotic love, disappointed love, the sadness and the joy it brings to our lives – this feeling has many facets; so this is a very romantic album,” she says.

Reiss combines her opera appearances with concert performances. She has been singing oratorios and lieder (art songs) in different languages. “I’ve always been very passionate about this repertoire,” she says, “and this weekend at the concert in Tel Aviv, I am singing very interesting arias, accompanied by a piano and a violin – these are dialogues between the voice and the instrument. These are very dramatic and very theatrical arias,” she says.

A busy performer with an international career, Reiss currently lives in London, “but I actually live on Lufthansa airplanes,” she quips. “I lived in New York, in Munich, I spend a few months a year in Vienna, since my work is very intensive there: I sing in several productions simultaneously, appearing in leading roles such as Pamina in The Magic Flute, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, and Adina in Elisir d’Amore. Later this year, I will be traveling to Moscow with the Vienna State Opera, where I will sing Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. For me as an Israeli singer, it is a great honor to receive these roles in such an important opera house. The level is very high, the orchestra is fantastic – it is a privilege to sing with them.”

Despite her international success, Reiss never misses an opportunity to perform in Israel: “Any time I have a chance to sing with the Israeli Opera or the Israeli Philharmonic, or like now, in a chamber concert series, is a delight,” she says. “And yes, my family lives here. This is my favorite place to sing,“ she says, “although it is not always easy. Here, they invite me on short notice, while in Europe they book us three or four years in advance.”

Speaking about her performances in Tel Aviv, Reiss says that in Europe she also appears in front of thousands, such as Barbican Hall in London, as well as small venues. “This is very important for our repertoire, and I greatly enjoy performing recitals and chamber programs in intimate venues with a special atmosphere. For me as a performer, it is important to be committed to the audience, to the music and the composer, to sing with conviction, knowledge and passion, be it Musicverein in Vienna or in a small village in Italy.”

Reiss says she doesn’t have much leisure time, “but I have a normal life besides music. I have a family, I read, I enjoy strolling along the beach when I come to Israel. It is important to have a life, to have feelings – otherwise, what would you be singing about?” she laughs.

For reservations, call (03) 607-7070. For the full concert schedule, visit www.tamuseum.com.

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