Suzanne Vega: “It’s appalling how quickly rights are lost after the cost of acquiring them”

The friend of the legendary musicians has already disappeared Lou Reed or Leonard CohenAnd the Suzanne Vega (California, USA, 1959) became popular in the 80s thanks to two songs, Luca s Tom’s dinner (Both are included on his album standing isolation). She has sold millions of records around the world, which has allowed her to further her career as a composer and soloist, as well as to make her way in other fields such as theater and the performing arts. His latest record work recorded live was published in 2020, An evening of New York songs and stories.

Now he returns to Madrid as part of Einstein on the Beach The The first opera by Philip Glass, premiered in 1976. In it, Suzanne Vega does not sing, but rather narrates the narratives contained in the work. Together with the Belgian vocal group Collegium Vocale Gent e Ictus Band and direction by Robert Wilson, This staging represents the opera in a semi-theatrical format and for a short time (the original lasts about five hours). The pandemic that paralyzed the world in 2020 prevented a European tour that had begun in 2019 and passed, among other places, through Barcelona, ​​from continuing its course and ending in Madrid. Now, the production has resumed in Paris and, among other cities, will arrive at the National Auditorium this Tuesday, November 22nd.

Q: You’ve worked with Philip Glass for years. How did you come up with this representation now, did he suggest it to you?

Answer: Well, I guess that’s why they suggested it to me, because I’ve known Philip Glass for 40 years. He was then a very friendly guy who did the organizing Breakfasts and lunches At his house on weekends and there I met a lot of people thanks to those meetings. Once, on one of those occasions, he asked me to sing with him in a little concert for a children’s choir in Brooklyn, New York. Wanted to read the final text of Einstein on the beach And I became very nervous. “You just read. You don’t have to explain, or act, or anything. And if you finish and we don’t finish, start over and we’ll stop when we stop, don’t pay attention to it,” he told me. This was my first contact with opera. I think now they wanted someone for the scripts who was a musician, not an actor, because that montage actually gives a lot of the feel of the musicians working, in rehearsal. So it didn’t cost me anything to fit into the production and I’m very happy to be a part of it. I use Philip Glass records as a reference.

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Q: Was he involved in any way in this production? ha you seen her?

a: no. Philip Glass is a very funny, very smart, never approachable person. He knows this production exists because I never tire of telling him we star, but he doesn’t like to talk about his legacy or his past. He just wants to work in the present and the future. However, some shows will be recorded, so you’ll have a chance to see them if you’d like, in the future.

Q: This tour resumes the tour that was frozen with the outbreak of Covid, precisely in 2020 your last album was released, which ironically is a work recorded live. How did you face the epidemic?

a: During the epidemic I could not write anything, and I did not have the courage. I devoted myself to researching what we were having, organizing my home and following cleaning recommendations, etc. It was a terrifying time. During confinement we tried to recreate the disco atmosphere with a concert in flow What we did with the blue note [un club neoyorkino]But without an audience, it was very strange. We had to imagine an audience there and their reactions. We’re now in the process of bringing back concerts we didn’t get to do in 2020 and some from 2021 and have started to include new material.

Q: Do these pandemic experiences inspire you in any way?

a: Not particularly. I think they were very profound experiences. Yes I wrote a song about the war in Ukraine called last train from mariupol, I have started playing it in concerts and hope to record it soon. It’s a very simple song.

Q: This leads me to ask you about the political situation in your country, the United States, where unprecedented polarization is taking place. I don’t know how it affects you, if it does.

a: Yes, we are living in a time where we have never lived before. And I have already lived six decades. It doesn’t sound like we had it in the 60’s or 70’s, and it’s much worse. I mean, we were polarized at the time, but I feel like it’s different, maybe because I was young at the time and didn’t consider it bad. The midterm elections we just had scared me so much, because there is so much denying democracy itself. I am happy with the result so far. It looks like at least we still have democracy, and we can go vote and continue to function as a country. The deniers have failed to impose their narrative.

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Q: What happened with this is pretty amazing legalizing abortion And the setback suffered by some social rights. How does someone who actually fought for them in the 70s live it?

a: The strangest thing to me is how fast this happened. I mean, in the Obama years I believed that we were living through a wonderful moment, that we had reached a great level of democracy and rights. And all of a sudden, such a sensation, it’s horrible how quickly rights can be lost after what it took to get them.

Q: Do you feel challenged to advocate for them publicly?

a: Well, I usually try to keep politics out of my social media profiles, for example. It’s easy to decide what I believe in and who I vote for, but I don’t like being the type of person who constantly expresses my political viewpoint. I grew up with politically radical parents who talked about politics at home all the time and went to demonstrations in the ’60s and ’70s, which is probably why I like to experience politics in a more private way. But of course I have my beliefs and my political point of view, and I express them from time to time.

Q: In Spain, you mainly remember “Luca” and “Tom’s Dinner”. How are you with that, would you like to continue performing it live or would you like to be credited for the rest of your work?

a: Oh, I’m glad. I really like to be remembered Luca And play it again because it’s a very meaningful song [cuenta la historia de un niño que sufre abusos en primera persona]. In addition, there are still children who know the song for the first time and see themselves reflected, and I tell their story. I still sing it from the heart. and with Tom’s dinner They’ve done so many songs, so many different artists, from hip-hop artists to Britney Spears, it’s really exciting. Also, everyone loves it, it’s like one big gig, and yet it was a very lonely song when I wrote it. I’d love to keep playing both.

Q: You won’t be able to do it this time in Madrid. Will you be back when the tour is over with “Einstein on the Beach”?R was found.: Sure, I live in perpetual tour. When this opera is over I will return to the United States and in February and March I will return to Europe to give concerts with my own material. But now I really want to spend a few days in Madrid. I’m not going to be there just to represent Einstein on the beachThen I’ll stay a few days and my husband will join us, and we’ll spend Thanksgiving here. I know this date means nothing to you, but to us Americans, it is a very special date and I am very excited to be living it in Madrid. It means a lot to celebrate there. it’s great.

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Film and disc about Carson McCullers

Suzanne Vega has a very special relationship with The work of Carson McCullers. Her latest studio album, since 2016, was actually the soundtrack to a play she wrote and starred in about the author, Carson McCullers on Love (Carson McCullers talks about love), which was released in 2011. “It’s a huge undertaking. We made a movie just before the pandemic hit, in 2019, and now I’m looking at how we can distribute it, whether to release it in theaters or show it on some platform,” he explains. “I studied theater as well as music and in one class project we had to dress up as an author who was not alive and answer questions as if we were that author. I chose McCullers because I saw a picture of her that I liked, but when I found his autobiography in the library and started to learn about his work , I was very impressed. So after doing this work, I kept researching for a few more years, and it ended up being my final degree project, and this is the continuation of it.”

Q: What interests you in your work?

a: She really knows how to describe how a troubled child feels. And all his characters live on the margins, but at the same time they are universal. He writes in a very tough way, and I love that. When I read it, I thought it described my group of friends in New York very well, a group of kids who spent all day on the streets and who had no one really to look after them. His language is beautiful.

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