Meet the Person Behind the Voice: Soprano Linda Ballová

By Alan Neilson
(Photo: Attila Nagy)

Following Linda Ballová’s compelling performance in the title role of “Salome” at the Brno National Theatre, OperaWire thought it would be interesting to interview the Slovakian soprano. After which, we had a short chat to find out more about the person behind the voice.

OperaWire: What was the first opera you saw? 

Linda Ballová: It was “Carmen” at Bratislava Opera when I was five years old.

OW: Can you remember what your thoughts about it were? 

LB: I remember that Carmen and Don José were both very old. At least, that is what they looked like through my child eyes. I thought, why is this about a grandpa and grandma when they were supposed to be young? I also remember thinking that I wanted to be on the stage.

OW: What is your next scheduled performance? 

LB: Mimì in “La Boheme” in Bratislava.

OW: What attracted you to the role? 

LB: From the time of my studies in the conservatory, it has been my favorite opera.

OW: What character have you met on stage that you most disliked? 

LB: Herod.

OW: It might seem obvious, but what do you dislike about him? 

LB: Everything about him. He is a weak person, and he is trying to show people that he is not like that. When weak people get into power, they can become very dangerous, and this is what he became.

OW: Name three people, living or dead, that you would like to invite to a dinner party, one of whom, at least, must have something to do with opera. 

LB: David Radok, the director of “Salome,” Mirella Freni and Freddie Mercury.

OW: Why Freddie Mercury? 

LB: I think if he were present, it would be fun. He is very extravagant and an extrovert, and that is the opposite of me, which makes me interested in him as a person. I also love his music and the way he sang it. He is my mother’s favorite singer, and although we listened a lot to classical music, we also listened to “Queen,” and other bands.

OW: What is your favorite film? 

LB: “The Luzhin Defence,” directed by Marleen Gorris.

OW: Do you play chess? 

LB: No. I have never learned to play chess, but I love it. For me, the minds of chess players interest me; they have to think so far ahead. I cannot do that, so even if I played, I would not be very good at it.

OW: What is your favorite piece of classical, non-opera music? 

LB: Rachmaninov’s piano concerto No.2.

OW: What attracted you to the piece?  

LB: I bought a four CD collection of his concertos for my father. I used to listen to them, and the second touched my heart and won’t leave.

OW: If you weren’t an opera singer, what career would you have followed? 

LB: A doctor.

OW: Is that because your mother is a doctor?

LB: Yes, probably. I think if she had been a coal miner, I would have wanted to do that. I wanted to be like her. Now, I am happy I didn’t become a doctor.

OW: If, you were a radio talkshow host, who would you most like to interview, and why? 

LB: Mirella Freni. I would like to know how she became an opera singer. I know she had a special diet; before every performance she ate spaghetti, but then when she retired, she never ate it again.

OW: Where would you most like to go on holiday? 

LB: New York. When I see films and documentaries set in the city, I am always fascinated by the energy of the place. I would like to experience it for myself.

OW: What is your favorite food?

LB: Like Mirella Freni, I always eat the same food before I go on stage. In my case, it is steak and vegetables. It gives me energy. I get hungry when I perform, and on occasions, I finish it off during the interval.

OW: Name two adjectives that describe Salome. 

LB: Cruel and Victim.

OW: Did you like playing Salome? 

LB: I do now. However, I found learning the role very difficult because her character was so different from anything I had experienced. There is nothing in her that I can relate to; it does not feel nice to be Salome. I feel sorry for her in some ways because she was brought up in a very dysfunctional environment, so it is not all her fault.


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