Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra in Handel's "Giulio Cesare." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Natalie Dessay will quit opera after a 33-year career.
During an interview with The Examiner the French Coloratura soprano stated that she will leave the opera stage in pursuit of her "true calling," acting. Dessay told the publication that she was tired of her repertoire and wanted to move in a new path. "I want to change my life. I want to go into straight theatre," she stated.
She also revealed that her last operatic role will most likely be in Manon at Toulouse this upcoming fall. She stated, "Yes, I think so. I did my real 'debut' in Toulouse, in the chorus. I had started off as an acting student. That was my real passion. That is my real passion. It's just a detour of thirty-three years-to finally get back to my first goal. There's nothing left for me to sing. I've done most of the roles I could do. I don't want to play Juliette. At my age? Please! Or Lucia or Adina or anything else like that. That's why I'm quitting. You have to love your repertoire. For a while I thought it was fun, but no. On to something else."
During the interview Dessay added that she had always hated the coloratura soprano and that she was not inspired by any of the legendary soubrettes. Instead it was Maria Callas who was her inspiration. "There was no coloratura, because I hate that kind of voice. I never had any problem with the repertoire. My idol is, was, and will be Maria Callas. That's not very original, but that's it. Also Renata Scotto. I worked with her. She's fantastic as a teacher. I like the actresses. I don't care about the voice. A beautiful voice in a body that doesn't act does not interest me more than five minutes. So, I'm not a good audience member for opera."
When asked if she had any stage roles in mind, Dessay said that she liked interesting people. "I haven't any idea. I haven't any preconception of anything. As long as it's with interesting people, interesting texts-I will be happy" she explained.
The French soprano was considered one of the greatest living sopranos of her time. At the Metropolitan Opera she sang a number of roles including Lucia di Lammermoor, Romeo et Juliette, La Fille du Regiment, and La Sonnanbula. She recently sang Giulio Cesare at Met and David Salazar of Latinos Post wrote, "One of Dessay's crowning moments came in 'V'adoro, pupille, saette d'Amore' where she seduces Cesare under the guise of Lidia. The singing was delicate, almost otherworldly. At the cadenza Dessay reached for a high note that materialized out of nowhere; she gave it a powerful crescendo that brought the aria to a sublime conclusion."
Dessay currently has a record deal with Virigin/ EMI Classics for which she recorded a number of albums including a complete recording of "La Sonannbula," "Lakme" and 11 solo recordings. She is currently appearing in the documentary "Becoming Traviata" which was based on the making of a production Dessay premiered at the Aix de Provence.