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Donna. Madonna. Primadonna. Maria Guleghina

Статья опубликована 23 декабря 2013 года в категории «»

Maria Guleghina, рождественское интервью/Christmas interview

For Christmas, we all expect a miracle and presents for New Years Eve. The Miracle comes from God, and the present, you will receive from me. I think one of the great Russian performers, if I am not mistaken Irina Arkhipova, once said: „There are a few good vocalists, and even less of those who are educated, the outstanding ones are so sparse, you will only need the fingers of one hand to count them - and their names are known“. Meet - Maria Guleghina!

Today, it seems fairly difficult to combine a successful career and motherhood. Sooner or later each woman will need to chose between her career or family. Your children have happy faces, the whole world knows of your successes. So, this combination is possible. But how?

It really is a decision one has to make, just like in Hamlet, „To be or Not to be“. If being without the stage and without singing feels like a torture and life seems impossible, because the stage is your air and singing means breathing - then you are forced to combine. But if singing and being on the stage or any other career, are just engaging and exciting/fun, then there is no point in letting the family and yourself suffer and sacrifice. Throughout the ages, a woman has been given the important role from above of being a mother, and this is the only honest role there is. You will need to live with your children and your husband, a husband who will also feel a real man - the Father of the family. In my case, my children are my supporters, they understand everything, they sympathise and they know that I think of them each free second and that I will always be there for them - in difficult moments, always! They understand that the stage is not just my workplace, but my destiny, my „service“. Moreover, children need not only love, but also material things, and I am glad that I was able to combine the two, being happy in my work and also to be able to give my children everything necessary in good quality.

Maria, are you from a family of musicians or a natural talent?

What do you mean by saying it? I was brought into this world by my mother and father, thanks to them and their genes, their love and devotion I became who I am today. My parents are not professional musicians. But they and their parents, all had wonderful voices, and so that flowed from different streams into one big „puddle“ - into me!

What influenced your choice: your surroundings or some event?

Fate. Oh, that. That explains it.

You are from an international family. Did you parents try to accustom you to different languages, traditions, national cuisine?

I was brought up by parents own example. I saw, how my parents treat each other with respect, their friends, acquaintances, and it never occurred to me that there are different nationalities. My parents sang all national songs, the ones they knew, and I grew up in this huge ocean of love for folklore. My father was a wonderful cook and from him I learned how to cook caucasian food (armenian, georgian), and my mother taught me ukrainian-jewish cuisine. I love „gef?llte fish“, and I miss it, when not at home, when I can prepare it myself. Of course, in childhood everything tasted better, and grass was greener, but it is a great joy to be at home and remember the traditions of the parents. Soon is New Years and I am in great anticipation of what I will prepare for my beloved ones beside the Christmas tree.

Maria, did your Grandparents take part in your education? What do you remember of them?

My grandfathers passed away too soon for me to remember them. But I did have my Grandmothers! The Grandmother from my mothers side, was the living example of an ideal communist human being, she never thought and fought for herself, on the contrary, when my parents were given a flat by the government, she demanded that we all move in together in her basement-floor flat, but do not take the flat, which she has given to other more „needy“ persons. She was awarded the Orden of Lenin, Orden of the Red Flag, she was an honoured labourer of the Russian Railways... And my fathers mother, was a silent armenian granny, spoke two words in russian, and always threatened to call my father and tell him about my behaviour. I am a child of Odessa, and eventhough I was in three schools at once (educational school, music school and artistic gymnastics) I was used to running around on the streets, climbing trees, fighting with boys and to my grandmother all this seemed inappropriate, especially swimming in the river! She did not let me have a bathing suit, she wanted me to swim wearing my dress and did not understand that it is a lot more dangerous, that the dress could get tied up and I could drown. She was mostly worried about her granddaughter swimming with boys in a bathing suit, so half-naked, then anything else.

Did your parents change their attitude towards you as soon as they learned of your talent? Did they spoil you little more or less, did they keep you away from domestic responsibilities?

It did change, yes, but only after I managed to give birth to my daughter during my first year at the Conservatory. My mother took all the responsibilities upon her shoulders. Besides, back then, my daughter seemed more like a doll to me than a real person. I brought her to the conservatory. Because of giving birth, I was almost expelled, and the Lady, who officially was my teacher was forcing me to terminate my pregnancy. But I always did what I felt was right for me. I was married and to me all those threats of expulsion seemed insane. I remember walking proudly, carrying this little happiness inside of me, that kept kicking under the ribs. It was such joy!

Did your parents encourage you, praise you for your achievements?

Of course! My father always wanted me to sing in front of his friends, even gave me a lot of money so that I would sing. Remember very well saying to him that I do not sing for money. But honestly, I was just very shy.

Maria Guleghina, рождественское интервью в России

Obviously one can not chose the parents and the motherland. Now, after many years of accumulated life-experience, can you name a few habits, qualities of character that your parents have put into you, those that were useful in your life and those that on the contrary were an obstacle?

Parents, Teachers, Motherland - the most sacred, fundamental concepts in the destiny of any human being. Everything was useful and I am thankful for everything. However, one thing was may be a bit too much: My father, since my early childhood tried to vaccinate me against divorces. To him divorce was a crime. When I was forced to run from my first family, because they were trying to make me into a maltreated house-pet, he understood me and supported me and gave me his blessing for the divorce. By the way, it was this horror, that gave me the necessary „kick“. I wanted to prove, that I can achieve everything by myself, that I will become a singer, and that I will have a family. I took my daughter, flew back to Odessa to continue my studies at the conservatory. There I met a young man who wanted to enroll at the conservatory but did not really know much of what he expected or wanted from life. We got married and stayed married many years, I just kept quiet and did not want another divorce. I think this is what slightly harmed me in life.

Sergey Rachmaninov once said, that he owes everything to his Teacher N.S. Zverev, that without him he never would have become a successful musician and would not have survived life‘s trials. Were you lucky with your teachers?

Of course! My favourite teachers are always remembered and treasured and I thank destiny for giving me these wonderful people, some of them passed away, but always remembered: E.N. Ivanov - without him I would not have become a singer. Ya. A. Voshak - taught me how to work and gave me the idea to find the real reason of why to go on stage. G. Gavazzeni - my first maestro at La Scala. To great dismay with Maestro Herbert von Karajan we met only once, shortly before he passed away, but it was him who gave me the „ticket“ to the great opera world. They will be treasured and honoured forever in my heart. Thank God my teacher Piero Faggioni is still alive, he taught me to truly live each of my heroines on stage. Of course, I also consider all great conductors I have worked with on numerous occasions, my teachers such as: Riccardo Muti, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado.

What are your guiding criteria when choosing the teachers for your children?

Those must be people that can teach good things, they must be able to „plant reasonable, kind and eternal thoughts“. I know for sure that only a personality can teach a personality.

You spend a lot of time touring, it is impossible to go without help and support, who would you entrust your children?

My daughter is already a grown up. My son has wonderful care-takers. They are Russian, very decent and already very dear people. Elena is a musician herself, her husband Alexander is an engineer. God bless them!

Recently I came across a study guided by mobile-network-companies, which indicated that young mothers often spend time on the internet, psychologists call this situation in relation to the child: „the presence of absence“. In order to avoid difficulties in the future of child-relationship, psychologists advise to communicate as much as possible. Hence the question: What is more important, in your opinion, qualitative communication with the child, or quantitative, measured by gifts of some sort?

I can only offer short communication „in person“ and constant communication via skype. My children acknowledge presents with gratitude, but it is not that what they are interested in. For example, a while ago I was flying to Moscow and wanted to give my son some extra pocket money, he declined, saying that he already has everything and that I am the one who will be on the road, so I will need it more. I realised, I was raising a right young man.

There are often disputes in regards to parenting in between the generations. Is that a similar situation to you? Please share your experience.

You just have to love and respect one and other, be able and willing to listen, so misunderstandings will never occur.

Love - a feeling that can not be analysed. Respect - is different. Not every parent manages to earn the respect and admiration of the child. Were you very close to your mother?

Yes, and even if she would not have done for me as much as she has, she is always my mother, the only one in this world. I immediately felt my responsibility towards her when I was up on my feet. If earlier it was her who took care of me, supported me, fed me, clothed me, etc, now I had the pleasure to make her happy and be her caretaker. I named my daughter in her honour. It is very sad that she no longer is with us, I would give anything to have her with us. Now I can only cry at her grave.

Modern trend today is children's show. It is quite popular now, for children to compete in all kinds of disciplines, dancing, singing. They all have one thing in common, they wish to „wake up a star“. As a spectator and as a professional with great experience what do you think about this?

Now is the time of „star-mania“. This I do not understand. If children themselves want to sing and dance, participate in competitions - then it is great, but it is horrible when it is mothers or fathers even who want to satisfy their ambitions through their children. Also terrible when young girls are forced into „Beauty Queen Pageants“, plucking eyebrows, burning the gentle fingers with gel-manicure, etc.. All this commotion only spoils the child‘s soul. But again, if the child himself wants to achieve something - then of course it is great!

No less popular are the studios, where they teach pop-singing. Is classical vocal school necessary for any future singer? What do you think about it?

If a child wishes to become a classical vocalist, he needs to wait untill the age of 16, only then can he start serious training. However, it is never to early or too late to sing songs, it is much better to keep the child busy with lessons.

Anyone who attended Ballet classes or sport, knows discipline and regime: what and when to eat, sleep and train. Is it different with vocalists?

Regime - is the foundation, without it vocalist, dancer and sportsmen can not exist.

What would you advise a young musician who dreams to become a singer?

To all those who dream of it - may their dreams come true!

Unfortunately there are often cases of children of professional singing-ensembles and choirs losing their voices. Is it possible to avoid the type of puberty based dramas such as it happened with Robertino Loretti and dozen promising other singers?

In order for boys not to completely lose their voices, it is strictly forbidden for them to sing during the „mutation“. My son had such a beautiful sonorous voice, and now, thats it, he must keep quiet and wait and hope, may be something interesting will evolve.

Donna. Madonna. Primadonna. Maria GuleghinaThe singers voice is a gift, wealth, subject of special care. Hardly anyone will argue that talent is a special gift from above, that the voice is wealth, it was also known in the period of Vsevolod the Great. Each singer also has his method of care-taking. According to Homer, Orpheus did no sing in the mornings in order not to anger Eos. Salomea Krushilnizkaya, did not cut her hair, Maria Callas thought vegetarianism to be the greatest enemy of her voice, Montserrat Caballe is sure that the best protection in any time of the year is real fur. What are your recipes?

The life of a singer is a never ending battle with bronchitis, it is our duty not to surrender and be defeated! I admit, it is not easy, considering the schedule and the traveling around the world. The more reason to keep a strict regime. Once again, I bow to my teachers. All my life I will remember the „science“ they taught me of a vocalist-regime, any exception, will be paid highly, with health or voice.

One other modern tendency is to go on holidays with the children, changing the season, „from winter into summer and back“. Upon return the whole family falls ill. You, like no other know what a fragile aparatus are vocal chords. What would you advise the fans of beach-holidays in winter time?

Out of wintery Moscow I would not advise anyone to fly to the Caribbean or Hawaii, and would suggest something closer. I also try to bring my son to the sea, but always to a place where the temperature, climate change is not too extreme. And of course after such a trip it would be advisable to get used to the cold temperatures slowly, first just opening the window, then a very short walk outside, and then of course increasing the amount of time spent outside.

In your opinion, can pop-songs replace a lullaby?

Well, may be if someone does not know any lullabies, yet, not so sure that it is even possible not to know any lullabies.. Actually, I think it is more important to sing to your child. My children sometimes fell asleep to arias and romances instead of lullabies and heard the librettos of Operas instead of fairy-tales.

What were the lullabies of your children?

„Lunnie polyani“, „Spi moya radost usni“, Tschaikovsky Lullaby, Norma‘s Casta Diva, oh, yes of course, also some folksongs, and Tschaikovski and Rachmaninov Romances.

Мария. В ожидании сына.Your children surely heard the whole opera repertoire. Did it ever happen that something was liked and something was protested against?

I was pregnant with my daughter during my first year at the conservatory and there was not much music there, mostly lectures. With Ruslan I sang until my 7th month of pregnancy, and of course he already lived his life inside of me and I always tried to make it as pleasant as possible for him. Even in winter (he was born in January) I walked outside barefoot in the snow, facing the belly towards the sun. I felt that he liked the sun rays. He was always very delicate before birth and never kicked me in the ribs.

For centuries it was believed and recommended that pregnant women are to watch, hear, absorb beauty, with every living cell and to sing. Why do think that is?

Communication with beauty, with art - is communication with harmony. It is essential for the future mother to be in peace and harmony. Any communication is important for the growing child: singing, caressing, rays of the sun! To hear mother and father, to feel safe.

Maria Guleghina Женщина Мадонна It is a known fact, a newborn can sense his mother unmistakably by the smell. A lesser known fact: if a woman sings lullabies during her pregnancy she produces a lot of milk. How would you explain this?

I don‘t know, and can not explain the connection. May be the mother feels relaxed while singing, and so milk appears? I fed my son for 7 months! Only God knows how much this cost me. I did not sleep, had to feed, then pump the milk and feed again... Oh and by the way, all this, whilst working and rehearsing and singing performances. Our first contract, 3 weeks after birth was Tosca at la Scala. This was no joke, it was CD and DVD recording with Maestro Muti!

In order for a child to grow up as a „World Citizen“, parents try to form and develop him with modern pedagogical methods. For example, during the first days of life, the child is surrounded by educational programmes, audio and video series, which enhance the mental development and facilitates the mastering of foreign languages. In your opinion, would such an intense programme help a child become successful in life?

I honestly think, in order to be successful, you must be loved and have had a happy childhood.

When you were leaving Belarus, your baggage contained a suitcase of vinyl LPs and clothes. Question: how many foreign languages did you take along to Italy?

I exported with me a tremendous Will to learn and to survive!

Your children are fluent in Russian, however they did not grow up in Russia, who taught them to read and write and communicate in classical Russian?

We only speak Russian at home, and all the care-takers, house-workers were and still are only Russians in culture and in language, even though of different nationalities.

Which first book in Russian languages did your children read?

Fairytales, of course.

In your opinion, what is essential for children in order to be happy?

Mothers love!

Maria, do you get scared? What helps you cope with your fear?

Faith in God!

Do your children watch TV?

My son watches Movies according to his age, but also limited time per week.

Which Music surrounds your children?

My children grew up with Mozart, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Schumann, Schubert, even the children toys were with classical music.

Maria Guleghina Женщина ПримадоннаSarah Bernhardt was convinced that every woman must find the time to take vocal lessons, regardless of talent, I quote: „A woman must sound beautiful“. Coco Chanel‘s observation was that „men prefer women with low voices“. In your opinion, where lies the magic of a voice?

In the soul of the speaker.

In the time of Imperial Russia, vocal lessons were obligatory and were taught on a regular basis not only to young Ladies in Noble Schools but also to students of the St Petersbourg conservatory. Why do think this was considered important?

The power to control the voice and be in possession of it, was integrated in the culture, you were educated if you knew how to use your voice. And of course, the young, noble In other words, Ladies were all future mothers and therefore had to learn how to sing lullabies, beautifully.

In Russia there is a saying: „Eyes are the mirror to the soul“, in India a saying exists: „The soul of a person lies in the voice.“ Would you be able to define a person just by his voice?

Yes, I always try to understand the essence of a person not only by how he speaks but also by the timbre of his voice.

Maria, on stage you always give yourself in completely and do not hold back, you live each word, each intonation, each phrase... You are not just a singer, you are dramatic actress. It is a colossal discharge of energy. Do you always manage to fully recover after a performance? And most importantly, how?

First of all, when leaving the theatre I never forget to „step out of the role“. Furthermore, I treat myself with a hot bath with essential oils and salts, delicious tee, favourite dress, and of course my Carmencita (a beaver-Yorkie). Throughout my career I had three „singing/working“ dogs with me on almost all my trips: Tosca then Odabella and now Carmen. And at home I have Norma (but she is too big to travel). To great sorrow, nothing is eternal and even though you know that eventually they will pass away, those wonderful creatures give so much love and strength and warmth, that you still bring home this cuddly, fluffy little miracle.

The family holidays are coming up, Christmas and New Year! What would you wish to all the readers of „Advice for Friends“ and all your friends and relatives?

Maria Guleghina Новогоднее поздравлениеHappiness! Happiness is just like health. As long as you have it - it goes unnoticed. Happiness is just like Love. It blows wind beneath your wings, without it life is grey! I know for a fact, most important thing in life is love and respect towards people around you and of course friendship! If you ask, how someone can become happy? I think, at first, one should learn and be willing to, no matter what, enjoy each day, meet each day with Joy and Gratitude and Prayer! Happy Holidays dear friends!

Maria, thank you for the pleasant conversation and for your attention to the project „Advices for Friends“. In my turn, I would like to share with you a useful advice and secret of Three roses, the Power of three aromas. First: the essential oil of Rosa Alba, like a tuning-fork, it will help you concentrate for a performance, coordinate the thoughts, emotions and feelings into one. The other aroma is Rosa Musk, Princess Nassau, it will erase all negativity, tiredness and will grant you a restful sleep after a concert. The third and strongest aroma is Rock Rosa, it will enhance adaptive capacity of the organism especially during traveling.

Thank you dear Zima and God bless you!

With respect,
to the readers of „Advice for Friends“
Natali Zima and
Maria Guleghina
The article "Donna. Madonna. Primadonna. Maria Guleghina" written only for publication on the website "Advice for Friends." Thank you for the photos from the family archive and translation from Russian Ms. Natalia Neumann (Munich). This article is published on December 19th 2013 in the category: „Children“.





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