This Thanksgiving weekend, Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads an all-Strauss program that showcases the virtuoso abilities of our fabulous musicians. Joining Andrés and the orchestra is world-renowned Swedish soprano Miah Persson, who sings Strauss’s Four Last Songs, the composer’s gorgeous final masterpiece. Get to know this golden-voiced artist as she discusses Strauss, new music, Texas, and more with the Houston Symphony’s Eric Skelly.
Eric Skelly: Richard Strauss was in love with the soprano voice, and his writing for sopranos certainly shows that. Can you describe what it is like to sing Richard Strauss and what distinguishes his writing from other composers?
Miah Persson: Singing his music feels almost like flying! Sometimes I even get dizzy when I sing his long, high phrases. There is a lightness but also a gravity to his way of writing for the voice. It is always with the words of the poet or librettist in mind, so text and music are very intimately connected. I find it takes a bit longer for me to find the key to his music, but once it is done, it is so well written for the voice that you can sing his music for hours without getting tired!
ES: Are there any Strauss roles you are looking at for the future?
MP: Marschallin! [One of the lead roles in Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier]
ES: You have admirably managed to balance standard repertoire and new works in your career to date. Is that by design? Can you talk about how your artistic partnership with composer Michel van der Aa came about?
MP: I have had the pleasure to be able to mix all genres throughout my career, and I have always wanted it to be that way. I’m lucky enough to have a voice that suits many styles and I enjoy lieder, concerts, and operas equally. My collaboration with Michel van der Aa started off with him calling me to ask if I wanted to sing in a 3D opera he was composing (Blank Out). Who can resist such offer? It is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done!!
ES: Is this your first time to perform in Houston? I know you have been to Dallas, so I’m wondering if you have any impressions of Texas so far.
MP: Yes, this will be my debut, and I’m very much looking forward to it! I really enjoyed singing in Dallas and was amazed by all the different things there were to do and see—like beautiful gardens, amazing museums AND rodeo!
Don’t miss our All-Strauss Thanksgiving November 29, 30, and December 1! Learn more and get tickets.