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Q&A | 39 Questions For Krisztina Szabó

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Mezzo Soprano Krisztina Szabó Photo: Bo Huang
Mezzo Soprano Krisztina Szabó Photo: Bo Huang

Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó typifies today’s modern singer. She is versatile, commands a charismatic stage presence, and presents thoughtful character portraits. Ms. Szabó made her Lincoln Center début as Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the Mostly Mozart Festival where she was praised in the New York Times for being “clear, strong, stately and an endearingly vulnerable Dorabella.”

This season, Ms. Szabó sang the role of Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Calgary Opera and most recently “The Woman” in Erwartung with the Canadian Opera Company. She has also appeared as featured soloist with Continuum Music, Tapestry New Opera, Music of the Baroque, Vancouver Early Music, Vancouver Bach Choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Canadian concert premiere of George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin.

She next performs with Against the Grain Theatre in Death & Desire, a double-bill of Schubert and Messiaen, which runs June 2–5 at Neubacher Short Contemporary in Toronto.

Q&A:

What are three things about Toronto that make you want to live here?

Toronto is urban but has many great neighbourhoods that make you feel like you can know your neighbours, great arts scene, Lake Ontario!

Name your favourite concert hall/venue in Toronto

This is so hard to pick! Toronto is blessed with so many great spaces for music. For acoustics alone, I would pick Four Seasons Centre, Koerner Hall, Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts and the newly renovated Trinity St. Paul’s United Church. All fabulous places to sing and hear great music.

Name your favourite concert hall/venue anywhere

I have to say that the new Wexford Opera House in Ireland is probably is my favourite place to sing so far  – beautiful, acoustically amazing and manages to bring an intimacy to the space while still being an opera house.

Your role models?

Musically speaking: Frederica Von Stade, Anne Sophie Von Otter.

Your favourite sound?

My daughter, Phoibe’s laugh. Best sound in the world.

Your least favourite sound?

My cat when she freaks out. Who knew such a terrifying sound could come from such a small cat!

Your favourite smells?

Freshly baked bread, lilacs, my daughter’s freshly washed hair.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

It may not sound SO dumb, but I used to perm my hair in high school. Turns out I have naturally curly hair. That makes ME sound dumb, I know, but I had super-short hair for so long and the top layer of my hair is straight and I would always brush my hair out, so I never noticed the curl. Anyway… no need for a perm!

What are the three things you’d like to change about Toronto?

More and better bike lanes, better transit, automated parking machines (the ones you can call and renew the parking instead of having to run back to your car and put more money in!)

Your first three record store purchases?

I believe my first three record store purchases were the Smurfs (All Star Show), Mickey’s Disco Party and the Grease soundtrack.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?

Some all inclusive resort on a tropical island, I’m not picky where!

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?

I rarely travel for pleasure, so the last place I traveled to for work was Vancouver. Another fabulous city!

What is your biggest phobia?

I don’t like vermin of any kind. If there is a mouse in my house, I run screaming.

Where did you go to school?

Port Credit Secondary School, Mississauga.

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

I was a piano major in Education at the University of Western Ontario.

The strangest talent that you possess?

My elbows hyperextend, so when I put my arms together in front of me, they make a Y shape.

Shoe of choice?

For fashion: Fluevogs, for comfort: Vionics.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

I toyed with being an actuary like my sister, Martha, or an eye doctor. I would have sucked at both.

Your ancestry?

100 % Hungarian.

Your three favourite films?

Dirty Dancing, Singing in the Rain, White Christmas (I’m a sucker for a dance movie).

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

I have watched and re-watched Friends a million times. I would probably watch it again!

Under what circumstances would you join the army?

I doubt anyone would ever want me in the army!

Your major character flaw?

It’s a toss up between insecurity and indecisiveness.

The character flaw in others that you can’t abide?

Meanness.

How do you know when you can trust someone?

I go purely on instinct. It’s a feeling and something in their eyes.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

When I had my daughter.

What are you the most proud of?

I have a home, a family and a career that I love.

The biggest mistake you’ve ever made?

Too many mistakes to pick just one..!

What is the best thing about your work?

Making great music, going to work to play, meeting wonderful people and playing and making great music with them!

What is the worst thing about your work?

The financial ups and downs, the battering to my self-esteem.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

The silence of my house after my family has left for the day.

What sport did you give up and why?

Sports? Me? That’s funny.

What is the game that you’re best at?

I play a pretty good game of Scrabble and Words with Friends.

If you had a motto, what would it be?

Suck it up, buttercup.

Your favourite curse word?

Fuck. It’s just so satisfying to say.

The thing that makes you the happiest?

A good sleep of at least 9 hours.

The thing that makes you the angriest?

People who waste my time.

The best way to die?

Quietly in my sleep, without suffering.

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody.

#MUSICALTORONTO

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Editor at Musical Toronto
Michael Vincent has worked as a senior editor for La Scena Musicale and web editor for Norman Lebrecht. On January 21, 2014, he went to lunch and left as the publisher of Musical Toronto. Later that year he found himself as a freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star, the former employer of his favourite author Ernest Hemingway. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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