“At first Miskolc reached out a hand for me”
The great diva of the operatic world has sung in innumerable opera houses in many continents. Tremendous successes, numberless recognitions. Beside the name of the world famous opera star that fact is always emphasized: she is Hungarian. With Eva Marton was interviewed by Gabriella Keresztény.
She coughed very much during our interview in the foyer of a hotel at the Danube bank, but she laughed when I told her – while she continuously took out paper handkerchiefs from her handbag – it would be a great honor for me if I caught the influenza from her. I prepared “from her” in the way of reading many articles about her, but personally I was enthralled by the straightforward sincerity of the diva, who considers herself as “a crazy Twins”.
- You stated in many interviews that Your unbrokenly perfect career is – in some measure – due to that reason, you didn’t get any chance in Hungary till 1972, when You was engaged by the Frankfurt Opera and with Your husband and with Your children You settled down in abroad. One of your famous female colleagues asked You: “Why are you a nuisance here in such a young age?” Would you do the same if you started your career now?
- Truly “in some measure”, because without my surgeon husband probably I didn’t undertake it alone. I am grateful to the God for my voice, which was discovered, but the talent isn’t enough for itself. It can be enforced only with hard work, which requires a secure familiar background. There will be our 40th wedding anniversary in this autumn and my husband, who is also my manager now, was an excellent father of our son and our daughter, and he is a huge support of me beside her hard hospital work. This isn’t an obligatory complimentary circle, which I run at every turn, but it’s the plain truth! Answering to your question: Yes, I would do the same now! The doors are more open now, you can go freely anywhere in the world. The essence of my life was the stepping from one country and from one role to the other. But since I have given master classes in Hungary, I have seen that the situations of the young artists aren’t easier now. They have reduced and restricted possibilities, they get insufficient attention and care. The position of the young singers is a little bit better in abroad.
- With master classes – which You have in Hungary, for example as a honorary professor in Your alma mater, in the Franz Liszt Academy-University of Music – You have a chance to share Your knowledge and Your professional experiences with the young generation. You mentioned in an interview that the most important human virtue is the honor for You.
- I graduated also as a voice master and I immensely love to teach! To open little windows, in which I see the desire for the beauty and for the knowledge and I feel the warmth of the blazing fire! Many young people come to me for my advisement, but I never equivocate to them. How many lies are in the world! And in this profession, too! The ancestors of my father (I was born as Eva Heinrich) were honest agrestians in Burgenland. My mother’s ancestors, who had high moral standards, were Transsylvanians. I learned from them that the honor is the most important thing in the world: when you look into the mirror, you don’t have a confrontation with an untrue face. The people usually do rounds here and there. I stay in the middle and I try to synthesize the things.
- You were characterized as a travelling ambassador, a Flying Dutchman, Hungarian cultural attaché, a world star and a globe-trotting star. Which do You take on among these? Have You never felt or do you feel now as a grandmother of two grandchildren, who lives in Hungary, that the continuous movement is exhausting for You?
- Let’s calculate on the realities – like my husband would say it. I regard myself as a globe-trotting star, although I know, I am ranked among the best singers. And an ambassador has to do some more for the country than the singing. “The Flying Dutchman” is suitable, because it’s an opera title and the continuous travelling is truly my style of living. I have undertaken my Hungarian nationality proudly since the very beginning. In Japan, in Brasilia, in America, where I present Sándor Márai’s books to my friends. For me it’s very important that I am Hungarian and I could enhance the Hungarian singing- and musical culture’s reputation both as a dramatic soprano and as a jury member of international singing competitions. I am proud of that I am the only Hungarian artist among the Catalans in the “Who’s who” of Barcelona. Among my orders for me the most important are – professionally – the Bartók-Pásztory-Prize, – emotionally – the Kossuth Prize, “The Prize for Hungary’s Reputation” and the “Middle Cross of the Hungarian Republic with the Star”. If I go to a reception I always put on these. But I have to state: all of them are worthy for me, I wouldn’t give away any of them. The Lifelong Honorary Membership of the Wiener Staatoper, the honorary citizenship of the Franzstadt (9th district of Budapest), the professorship of my former alma mater and the title of Miskolc’s muse are also great honors for me. The wandering is the part of my work. It doesn’t exhaust me, and – what is more – it makes me happy, because I like this variegated style of life. It improves my condition and I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I try to live a healthy life.
- You have lived in the capital of the Principality of Monte Carlo, in Monte Carlo for 17 years. But where is Your home? And how do You live on weekdays?
- Monte Carlo has a wonderful climate. My terrace looks onto the Mediterranean Sea. If my throat is ill like now, the salty marine air cures me during few days. But in home I’m at home. The people understand me the best in Hungary; my children live here, too. My husband has a flat in Budapest: sometimes he pulls my leg with that: if I knock three times, he gives me admittance. Finally the time has arrived when we could spend lots of time together and we could wake together in the mornings. We live in a small way, peacefully. I like reading and going to exhibitions. I always see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, wherever it’s exhibited, because I’m totally enthralled by its “flaming madness”. My husband is the ministry of fiancé at home, because he knows well, I have never been interested in the money. We don’t work for the fee in this profession, although finally the hard work is measurable in wherewithal, too. I’m not a spendthrift. I buy expediently and I spend the less money for clothes. If I can do, I wear track suit and sneakers. We don’t like to go to restaurant because of the smoke. I cook myself for our friends who visit us. I cook light foods, but in fact my favorites are the layered cabbage, the bean soup and the breaded cutlet.
- The fate of the sopranos that as a lover they die under tragic circumstances on the stage, where – reportedly – You experienced dangers so many times.
- Ah! But I have also such experiences when I almost died of laughter. For example I hated jumping out the window as Tosca in Firenze. I had to run up in a seesawed lath-board to as high as a floor and I had to jump out through the “elastic” glass, which is often used in films. Once my husband, who was present in the rehearsals, brought on, why I run so slowly and he would show me the correct jumping. In spite of he played football throughout his life, he came to a stop in the middle of the board, because he didn’t know the drive, how it’s possible to make a rush toward this lath because of the jumping. In La Scala in Milano I was just singing the Empress in R. Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten lying before the tenor, who sang the Emperor, when suddenly “peing”, a button whizzed through overhead and the famous tenor yelled with stifled voice: “Ah me! My pants slip down!”He breathed so much during his aria, from which the button of his pants flew away in the thick of the performance. When the curtain felt, we burst out laughing.
- Your time-table is always full, but if there is summer, You go to the Miskolc Opera Festival, where You have been the artistic director for three years. Did You undertake it with pleasure?
- Yes! In Hungary at first Miskolc reached out a hand for me. Be quite frank I waited for Budapest, where it was happened later, but you go there, where it’s necessary. Whithersoever I’m in the world, I always mention Miskolc. This festival will have such a great rank like numerous western festivals. After the Miskolc Opera Festival there will be a great event: I sing my first Elektra in Hungary, in the Palace of Arts. In a special production, with many young Hungarian talents, we’ll go on a tour with it throughout the country. I think – with guaranteed success!
Eva Marton was born on 18 June 1943 in Budapest. Her husband is Dr. Zoltán Marton, a surgeon, their children are Zoltán and Diána. After her studies in the Franz Liszt Academy of Music she was the member of the Hungarian State Opera, the Frankfurt Opera (from 1872), the Hamburgische Staatsoper (from 1977) and from 1980 she is a freelancer. The New York Time chose her as The Singer of the Year in 1981 and in 1986 and as The Artist of the Year in 1982. She is a Lifelong Honorary Member of the Wiener Staatsoper. Her art was honored with innumerous prizes both in Hungary and in abroad. She is The Muse of Miskolc.
(Miskolci Tükör. 2005. May, p. 13-15.)