Olivarito Street, in Mexico City. A chalet. Piano notes and a chorus of voices can be heard from the street. The soprano María Katzarava rehearses for her concert in favor of women searching for their missing relatives in Mexico. The box office dedicated entirely to that cause. The music stops when María Teresa Kinijara arrives, one of the Sonora seekers, she has a missing brother. From the stairs he thanks the group for their selfless support. “Believe me, I have buried two brothers, and nothing is comparable to having someone missing.” She gets emotional and contralto Ana Caridad Acosta comes over to hug her. The girls in the choir also give him messages of encouragement. The music is back. And already on the scene, dressed in black and with sports boots, María Katzarava (Mexico City, 37 years old).
Question. Being in front of a soprano is a bit intimidating. It is you as superior beings.
Answer. Ha ha, what’s up. No, we are as normal as any human being
R. Yes. We are like the gymnasts of the voice, nothing more.
P. But aren’t you divas?
R. That has already changed with the times, the divo and the diva are words that we would no longer use today, the times of opera and classical music have changed a lot and they have had to land to stop being seen as something unattainable, because that it drives away people who are not used to this genre.
P. Since when has it changed?
R. After Pavarotti divism ended. You need to attract young people. They were the last, they were another generation.
P. Placido Domingo.
R. Maestro Plácido Domingo is not an unattainable divo, on the contrary, he is a very generous person, very pretty and close to his audience. He is kind to everyone.
P. With all?
R. That would be a matter of talking to him, but I have a very noble image of him.
P. Approach the new audience. Is that being achieved?
R. Of course. We make productions that are shown in cinema, for example. They begin to see it closer. Cooler productions, more to this with our times, with a gender perspective. Everything has changed at the opera.
P. What does a soprano do when she is not working as a soprano?
R. I really like to fly airplanes
P. A little!
R. I also like cinema, painting, photography, traveling.
P. But let’s get back to driving, please.
R. Love it. I have been doing it since 2017. I like airplanes, cars …
P. Wikipedia does not say that
R. Well, you have to add it.
P. You fly airplanes, how long did it take you to learn?
R. I’m still learning. They are small, like airplanes. I do it for pleasure, I do not need a pilot’s license.
P. Won’t it turn your career around?
R. No, I would only do it for pleasure. I also like cars. In Barcelona they put me on formula 2 with the pilot and they gave me two laps at 400 kilometers per hour, I don’t know how far we were going. I said, I’m going to die here now. I saw the movie of my life go by, I prefer to drive. And motorcycles, I also love them.
P. Then you have to ask for Checo Pérez.
R. Oh no. I’m not that much of a fan either.
P. Does all that speed have something in common with the lyric?
R. Freedom. Losing the fear of the height, the stage, the voice, the public, which sometimes looks like a wolf’s mouth.
P. Yes she is an unusual soprano. He also likes video games.
R. I love them
P. A little!
R. They are like opera, they create stories, like cinema. I am a fan of video games. I like Batman, Mario Bross, the Ninja Turtles, the Simpsons, there is also a video game. Played a lot. I don’t have time anymore, but before … I didn’t even sleep
P. The concert on November 25 was a tribute to all the women seeking disappearances in Mexico.
R. There are more than 100,000 missing. Many times these women have no focus and do not give it the importance they deserve.
P. She acted for this cause last Thursday, the day of the fight against gender violence.
R. Yes, that violence is terrible. It is global, but in Latin America you see more, it is something horrible that we all experience, from verbal violence.
P. In the lyric how machismo feels.
R. Yes there is, there are always obvious differences. There are very few women conducting, a lot of machismo, specifically in the orchestra and on stage, in opera female voices are needed, that makes it something different.
P. And this climate change, how do you see it?
R. We’re ending the world in a minute, uh, and we’re not doing much or anything to save it, and they see it as lip service, but they don’t see the gravity of the matter. I feel the young generation more concerned than the previous ones, they have left us a world that is already very sick. At some point we will all feel it and we will have to change yes or yes, like the covid, that if they do not confine us we would not pay attention.
P. The government of Mexico speaks of nothing more and nothing less than a Fourth Transformation. Do you perceive it, do you see Mexico immersed in a great change?
R. It is always the same story, the same soap opera, there is no change.
P. There is a lot of pessimism among the young
R. It is not pessimism, people are unhappy, they always are because this is not new, disagreement is old and people are silent. Here the voice is not the same as if you complain in Spain, for example, and I have lived it. There in Spain they respect you more as a people, your rights and your obligations. In Mexico and throughout Latin America they are not respected, but I believe that we are all responsible, not just the government.
P. But in Spain the opposition leader, Pablo Casado, says that solar energy cannot work because there is no sun at night.
R. Politics is also a joke in Spain. And in Italy. In Spain you also see everything, which I say, oh, it looks like Mexico.
P. Now he lives in Madrid, and before in Barcelona. Have you already learned to speak Catalan?
R. I understand everything and I talk about it there more or less.
P. What are your most immediate career prospects? His most immediate dream.
R. I have no immediate dreams. I let myself be carried away by life and let it surprise me. The less I wait, the more it surprises me. I don’t expect anything from life. I treasure everything that comes to me and it makes me happy.
P. Is Mexico a lyrical country?
R. Of course. It is one of the races that we can be most proud of, the best tenors today are Mexican, and there are a lot of voices, not only tenors, that are imported from Mexico, we are very strong in singing. Mexican tenors have always been one of the best in the world.
Subscribe here to newsletter of EL PAÍS México and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of this country