In a church close to the shore of Skálafjørður on Eysturoy. In our village’s gorge, down at the North Atlantic. In the car. At the dinner table: I have heard Rúni Brattaberg sing many times. Also onstage. Great, massive bass, fantastic presence. This Saturday, the Faroese Opera singer performs in Richard Wagner’s „Götterdämmerung“ as Hagen. The premiere at the Leipzig Opera House is sold out.
Are you familiar with the opera world? It’s an uncompromising and global competition. If you are not ready for the truth, you better quit before you even get started. Rúni has made his way from Suðuroy, Faroe Islands, to the power centers of opera. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Auckland Philharmonia. Lyric Opera of Chicago. Cincinnati Opera. Malmö, Budapest, Amsterdam, Lausanne … That’s for sure: Being an opera singer is not only about having a marvelous voice. It also means a tremendous amount of work.
Before Rúni trained to become a singer (studies at the Sibelius Akademia in Helsinki and the International Operastudio Zürich) he graduated as a documentary photographer in Copenhagen. One of his impressive black-and-white photographs hangs in our eat-in kitchen, showing houses on Mykines in a mystic-twilight-tableau. A contre-jour shot he took in 1992: Drizzle, fog and grass roofs. The perfect surrounding for the music of Richard Wagner.
At that time on Mykines, Rúni didn’t know that 24 years later, he would be singing all the important Bass-Wagner-roles at the Leipzig Opera House, as a permanent member of the ensemble. Also Wagner, Strauss, Verdi, Mozart, van Beethoven, Rossini, Berg and Britten in opera houses around the world.
I have watched many bass singers perform. Still, I am deeply moved when I listen to Rúni as, let’s pick out an example, Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal. Besides his voice, his experience and his willingness to constantly work hard: What’s Rúni’s secret? My guess: His personal coach, opera singer and singing teacher Susanne – his wife. Without any doubt: We will hear far more from Rúni Brattaberg in the years to come.
Rúni, Susanne and my husband Francesco on Suðuroy. Listen to Rúni on www.runibrattaberg.com