”There are sometimes people who would just be happy if I felt and broke my ankle”
Interview and concert November 18th in CPH
Meet the German soprano Sophie Klussmann in this interview about the free life as a freelancer, the hard competition among sopranos and her love for the concert as a genre.
November 18th she will give voice to Brahms’s ”Ein deutsches Requiem” in front of Copenhagen Phil in Copenhagen.
Sophie Klussmann lives in Berlin but travels around the world to practice her passion: The classical concert scene. She loves the artistic freedom and in Copenhagen she will show how that goes in Brahms's "Ein deutsches Requiem".
“There are sometimes people who would just be happy if I felt and broke my ankle!”
Sophie Klussmann makes a heartly laugh through the Zoom-connection with Klassisk bureau. That is in general symptomatic for her. She seems very happy for her free life as a freelance singer and she is energetic and optimistic. Now, she is tough skinned and is less worried about other peoples reactions than earlier in her carrier. As a younger singer she sometimes got worried when seeing a tired face in the audience. She was afraid to disappoint the audience.
As a freelance singer she is obviously more free than being a permanent singer in an opera house. At the same time she confirms the prejudice being a soprano: The atmosphere is sometimes cold and not very collegiate. Also among freelancers. “I have met sopranos who would do anything to get a job. That’s not me. I can’t do that”, Sophie Klussmann explains while she refers to the often ongoing fight for certain roles and jobs. Luckily, she has a group of soprano friends. They support each other. “We all fight for our jobs. But I have good soprano friends – we share jobs and help each other and we do it for the audience,” she adds.
This statement leads to discuss the background for being a classical singer at all. “Sometimes people loose focus. They forget who we are doing it for. As singers we should bring beauty and truth into this world and in this case the voice is special. It hits you in a special way. The audience will know if we are there for them or just for ourselves”, Sophie Klussmann ponders. That part goes together with the feeling of being authentic. “The more free I am, the more the audience responds. That is something I seek”, she explains with clear passion.
Sophie Klussmann at work. She wants to sing for the audience and not just for herself.
Being her own boss Sophie Klussmann however also has a kind of anchor because of her connection to her agent. Her agent keeps her updated with jobs and each time Sophie Klussmann must consider the pay and the logistic situation. She lives in Berlin with her 5 year old daughter whom she shares with her ex-husband. Sometimes she brings the daughter with her for concerts but not this time in Copenhagen.
However, the free life as a freelancer is also challenging, but she likes it.
“I choose the life as a freelancer. I love singing at the concerts. I missed that part in my time as a permanent singer in an opera house. In concerts there is more contact with the music than in an opera. Of course, that also depends on the conductor. But there is more freedom of music at the concerts”, is her experience. However, she still does one or two operas a year since she still likes the genre. Recently, she got another anchor in her work life as she has started teaching at Universität der Künste in Berlin. She has six students for single lessons and she is looking forward to the new job.
This Friday she is going to Copenhagen to sing with Copenhagen Phil for her first time. A job she got because of Peter Lodahl, chief director of Copenhagen Phil. They met randomly in Berlin. “We were neighbours in Berlin for a while and one day we found out about our professional similarities", Sophie Klussmann remembers. "And then Peter Lodahl invited me for the concert”, Sophie Klussmann explains with happiness.
She allready knows Brahms’s requiem very well.
“Brahms’s Requiem never loses its beauty”, is the first statement appearing in Sophie Klussmann’s mind when talking about Brahms’s work that was on the scene first time in 1869 in Leipzig. “It has a total play of one hour and it feels like one big piece. It has much drama and the arias for the soprano have a certain silence. Also, it is a very personal work of Brahms and is therefore very touching”, Sophie Klussmann says about her experience of the requiem.
In 2013 Sophie Klussmann covered Anna Netrebko in the role of Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni".
From the lyrics she highlights the passage from 1. Pet. chapt. 1 in The New Testament. Here the apostle writes the words “All men are like grass”. The fragility and impermanence of life is brought to light with Brahms who lost his mother a few years before the premiere of the requiem. A lifechanging situation that probably has been at stake when writing the work. Also, Sophie Klussmann highlights the fact that Brahms has chosen his own verses from the Bible outside the liturgy of the chatolic order. “It is personal to him. There is sadness but also the work tells us that we will meet again. An idea about the living ones still being in contact with our beloved dead ones”, Sophie Klussmann ponders. “Life is wonderful but also challenging and painful. In that sense, life can be deliverance for us”, are her final words in this interview.
At the concert in Copenhagen A. Schönberg’s “Ein Überlebender aus Warschau” is also on the program. A piece that honors and remembers the victims of Holocaust. The German baritone Michael Nagy sings – or speaks – the lead role and is also doing his part in Brahms's requiem together along with Sophie Klussmann.
November 18th at 6.00 PM in Copenhagen
"Ein deutsches Requiem", J. Brahms "Ein Überlebender aus Warschau", A. Schönberg
Copenhagen Phil, Camerata, Graabrødre Kammerkor and others