Interview with … Samuel Boden

Many of you heard of him for the first time last summer at the Festival d’Aix. Now it’s time for you to learn more about a very promising young tenor : Samuel Boden.

Can you tell us about what decided you to sing and about your debut ?

I was a cellist at junior music college and studied singing at the same time, but I actually preferred singing.  When I was 17,  I became a chef (cuisinier) and worked as a cook until I was 20, but realised that it wasn’t the job for me, so I went back to singing.  I attended music college in London for 6 years from that point and then performed professionally, firstly with consorts and choirs like the Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen etc.

How would you rather define your voice : « haute contre », « high tenor », … ?

I am a light-lyric tenor, but don’t really have a break in my voice, so the passaggio has never really been a difficult area for me; for this reason I have been suited to early music like Purcell, Charpentier, Rameau, etc.  In terms of defining my voice, it depends what I’m singing as to how I use my voice.  For example, I am currently singing Orphée in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, at 440hz, which is very high for this piece, so needs an “haute contre” ability for many parts. However, the role also goes low and needs more muscle than an “haute contre” would usually use, so at those moments, I have to employ a true tenor technique.  There is a big coloratura aria also, for which more of a Rossini approach is needed.  I perform repertoire from a variety of styles and eras, from Roman Laments to Bach to Mozart, Britten, Stravinsky, Berlioz and even Bernstein, and also one person’s idea of an “haute contre” can be different to another’s, so I prefer not to categorize my voice.

A important part of your French audience discovered you last summer in Les Boréades during the Festival d’Aix. How was your collaboration with Marc Minkowski ?

Les Boréades is a fantastic piece, and Abaris a brilliant role.  To work with Marc was a great pleasure as he is one of the pioneers of the re-discovery of this music.  Of course I learned a lot and am looking forward to my future projects with him.

In 2015/2016, you are going to work in different productions with Raphaël Pichon. Can you tell us more about these new projects ?

I will be doing Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, Bach’s Matthaeus Passion and a Schütz, Bernhard, Bach programme.  I am yet to rehearse, so don’t know much about the approach to these works, but Raphaël is a great new talent and always inspiring to work with, so I am sure the rehearsal process and performances will be memorable.

samuel boden 1Can you tell us a bit about your main projects, about the roles you would like to sing ?

My main projects over the next few months are Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée with Emmanuelle Haïm, a Charpentier/Blow programme with Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen at the Wigmore Hall, Rameau’s Castor et Pollux with The Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn, Berlioz with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and another project with Marc Minkowsky for Salzburg Mozart Week early next year.  I will be doing more recitals also, with different programmes planned for Lute, Guitar and Harp.

I would like to explore the French Baroque repertoire a lot more, as it is a style I am very keen on, but I also enjoy the technical challenges that come with other styles – Handel, Mozart etc. so I would like to explore operas from those composers amongst others.  I always enjoy the work I do, so have no real preference at the moment in terms of roles.

 

Is it important for you to sing with period instruments ?

I much prefer period orchestras for period pieces as the sound and weight is more suitable.  To remain as close to the original composition is always more rewarding in my opinion, so, for example, Britten with period instruments would of course not work as well as with a modern orchestra.

Which artists would you like to work with, whether singers, conductors, directors, etc. ?

I enjoy working with a variety of people and learn from everyone, so I have no real desires.  It is hard to anticipate what it would be like to work with someone until it happens, so for me it is important to remain open minded, take each experience as it comes and make the most of it.

Apart from music, do you have other hobbies or passions ?

I love exploring/extreme sports/being outside.  Snowboarding, rock climbing and downhill mountain-biking are my main sports.  I also love electronic music so when I have free time I enjoy mixing electro.  However, I have an 11 month old baby, so at the moment my spare time is spent with my family – we travel together while I’m working away from home so that we can all spend as much time together as possible.

Interview with … Samuel Boden
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