Exclusive interview with Sandrine Piau


Ahead of our first collaboration with the acclaimed Sandrine Piau, we spoke to her about her love of Mozart and approach to concert performance:

Is Mozart a special composer for you? What is unique about his writing for the voice?
Mozart’s music is a sort of a backbone – I always come back to it, never straying very far! His work is a miraculous combination of vocalisation and music, with no compromise on either part.

Do you approach the performance of Mozart, and in particular early Mozart, in a different way from the Baroque repertoire? In Mozart’s earlier works, do you hear a glimpse of what is to come in the later Da Ponte operas?
Mozart’s early music was written in a much more instrumental way for the voice, and with a virtuosity that is indeed reminiscent of Baroque music. I see this period of Mozart’s music as a bridge between the Baroque and Classical eras. I try and bring out the ‘hybrid’ characteristics. I myself find the evolution in Mozart’s work so huge throughout his short life that I find it hard to believe that Aspasia is the ‘grandmother’ of Susanna, Pamina or the Countess! Having said this, Zaide does foreshadow Konstanze…

Do you enjoy concert work? Does your approach to the delivery of the text change without the added complexity of a staging and direction?
Naturally the stage brings a third dimension to the roles that you take on – you have to be actor, conductor and stage director in one go. The time you spend on the role (often during a whole month of rehearsals) also allows you day by day to go deeper into the character.

However, concerts give you the opportunity to read the music in a more personal and spontaneous way. Music then takes precedence over the theatricality, giving the listener the freedom to imagine the rest. It’s a different sort of work, which I like just as much.


Hear Sandrine Piau on Radio 3’s In Tune on Thursday 11 October, 16:30.