Remove culture and the society is disruptedPortland
What is your first memory of la Monnaie?
Jente (singer, Portland): That must have been Don Pasquale in 2018. I remember we were both in awe by the singing, the costumes, and the special atmosphere. It really felt like we were in a parallel universe. There is so much tradition, so much history... Attending an opera live for the first time was truly memorable.
When were you last moved to tears by a concert or an opera?
Sarah (singer, Portland): I can’t recall a specific moment, but with live performances a tear or a smile are never far away. You just know and feel that at any performance something special can happen. It does not happen every time, but it can. And therein lies the beauty.
Jente: I’m not really the crying type either. I’m more easily baffled by all the talent – especially here in the opera – than being moved to tears.
How did you first come into contact with music?
Jente: I was already a teenager when I reluctantly started to discover music. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I started playing music myself.
Sarah: Where you really such a late bloomer? As a toddler I was already in love with music. Listening, singing along, trying to play songs. I’ve never known it any other way. Music has been an important part of my life from the very beginning.
Why is la Monnaie so special to you?
Jente: Everything about it! The better question would be: ‘What is not special about la Monnaie?’ (smiles) No, seriously, there is so much to see here. Even the building itself is an attraction, and the opera performances are unequalled. To me this is the most magnificent of all art forms. If it were possible, I’d come to a performance every week.
Why should more teenagers visit the opera?
Sarah: Opera is for everybody. Young people should experience opera at least once, to experience the sensation of a world unfolding before your eyes. Some people will love to take a plunge into that world whereas others simply won’t. And that doesn’t matter. It’s important that opera continues to exist and that everyone can experience it whether it moves them or not.
Jente: La Monnaie is in no way bound to a specific generation. It is a unique world that appeals to everyone with a keen eye for a beautiful spectacle.
To what extent are you as artists inspired by an opera performance?
Jente: Opera is very intense. The splendour of the musicians, the vocal acrobatics of the singers, both equally intense and always inspiring. Even if our style is completely different from opera, we still feel inspired to be as disciplined as the la Monnaie artists.
How do you see the role of culture in our society?
Sarah: Culture is as essential as water. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated that people need different kinds of culture. Culture brings people together, it inspires, moves, and makes people happy.
Jente: If you remove culture from society, the society will feel off. When it comes to film or music your preference is secondary, more importantly when you are able to enjoy it together with others, something indescribable takes place. Culture isn’t just an added value for the public, artists also need to be able to create. The government should play a supporting role.
Why do you consider opera to be the most refined art form?
Jente: Opera is, without a doubt, the ultimate art form. We, as representatives of a slightly lighter music genre, cannot even begin to imagine the hours, days, or weeks it takes to bring such an all-round spectacle to life. It’s not just the music, there’s the script, decor, costumes and so on… (sighs) I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Opera is really beyond imagination.
Sarah: It’s easy to say that in opera everything melts into each other. But it really does. It all blends together in a way that mere mortals cannot phantom. There is zero room for error or mistakes. Every performance is an accomplishment and I really admire that.
Which role would you like to take on yourselves?
Sarah: The second opera we had the pleasure of attending in la Monnaie was The Tale of Tsar Saltan. The swan princess acted from behind a screen on which different images were projected. I would love to play that role myself one day.
Jente: If I could choose any role, I’d definitely pick the role of a bad guy. Don’t ask me why, but I've always wanted to play the anti-hero. I would love to disrupt a beautiful romance.