Mirga & Weinberg

Following a hugely successful debut with "The Passenger" at Teatro Reál in Madrid, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be making her operatic debut at the Salzburg Festival with "The Idiot" this August. Both operas are by Mieczysław Weinberg – we asked her what it is that makes her so passionate about his work.

Why Weinberg? Where does your passion for his work come from?

During my childhood, my favourite animated films were "Winnie the Pooh" and "Boniface’s Holiday". Both of their exceptional music scores were composed by Weinberg, and they continue to be among my favorite films to this day. Working with Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica in 2014/15 - premiere and recording of Weinberg’s 3rd and 4th Chamber Symphonies counts as my next important contact with Weinberg’s work. The final decisive impulse was when I first encountered his Piano Quintet – precisely this work prompted me to start understanding what Weinberg is about.

Weinberg's undiscovered and unperformed works – Do you consider this as the basis of your artistic work? Which works still need to be presented to the audience? Which ones are you looking forward to?

I have discovered a vast quantity of Weinberg’s works that could be considered masterpieces, which is both logical and illogical in a sense but also possible to prove on many different levels. However, there are still numerous works that I haven’t “met” yet – I can’t wait to start that adventure! I am excited to premiere his 9th and 13th Symphony – good examples of his relevance both in his time and in modern times. I have probably performed his 3rd Symphony the most until now. It is a magnificent work to experience repeatedly, made for big stages and large audiences – it is also extremely relevant and easy to connect with because it contains many themes from traditional songs and folk dances. I always look forward to going back to it!

You are conducting two new productions of Weinberg's operas this season: "The Passenger" at the Teatro Reál in Madrid and "The Idiot" at the Salzburg Festival. What is it like to be immersed so deeply in his operatic work in such a short space of time?

I am grateful to have been able to immerse myself deeply into both works this season – his first opera ["The Passenger"] and his last opera ["The Idiot"]. I have been noticing many connections between both, but also a lot of differences – clear progress in his compositorial style. I must confess that even prior to the premiere of "The Passenger" in Madrid, I had a sense of its upcoming success, yet I was still astonished of how well it was accepted by the audience and critics. I can imagine it will be similar with "The Idiot" in Salzburg.

Finally, a quick question: What are you most excited about in the upcoming season?

Our oldest son is starting school next year - that is a great milestone to look forward to! Otherwise, many unbelievable and exciting projects with some of the best orchestras in the world.

Learn more about “The Idiot” at the Salzburg Festival here.

(c) Frans Jansen