The International Music Festival Autumn Strings begins this Friday at Prague Castle and one of the main stars will be the internationally acclaimed Czech mezzo-soprano, Magdalena Kozena. She will open the festival with songs from her new CD called "French Arias", conducted by Michel Swierczewsky. Although she is now based in Paris, Magdalena Kozena told Radio Prague that she is always happy to return home. Besides, she expects Friday's concert to be rather special:
"Well, this concert is a really beautiful opportunity to present my new CD called French Arias. I also like very much the idea that there will be a visual part of this concert because it is not very usual for classical music. Sometimes I think that classical music is something very rigid and people think that it should be something 'tight'. I like the idea that this is going to be a little bit more alive."
At the age of 30, Magdalena Kozena has already achieved a great deal of success. In recent years she has performed many roles for major opera companies in venues such as the Châtelet in Paris, the Vienna Music Festival and the Edinburgh Festival. Magdalena Kozena is soon going to make her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Though she is now based in Paris, she first learnt her art in Czechoslovakia; first at the Brno Conservatory and later at the Bratislava College Of Performing Arts. She commented on how that grounding has served her over the years.
"Actually, I'm from a very lucky generation because I did all my studies during the socialist time and the education, I have to say, was really very good. It was very, very strict and difficult. Everything I learned - and it was a lot - I could use abroad because I was sixteen at the time of the Velvet Revolution and could go abroad immediately."
The new CD called simply "French Arias" contains 15 brilliant arias by composers of such names as Gounod, Massenet, Verdi, Berlioz, Ravel, Bizet and Offenbach. We asked Miss Kozena about her favourite piece:
"My favourite piece is an aria in Cleopatra, which for me was a big discovery. It was never recorded as a separate aria so I think it's also a very rare piece."
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