A primadonna onstage, a little squirrel at home, deep down still one of the outsider children overlooked by the system. We talked to Klára Kolonits, opera singer.
She receives us gracefully at her home in Göd – in a silk dress, high heels and elegant make up – kneeling on the ground next to a rose bush. She was opening the door when she realised that the wind bent one of her precious flowers. After some garden work she leads us to the salon, and then to her library. Extreme finesse but no snobbery – this is valid both for the couple and for the house they are living in.
“My home, my castle, my homeland occupies my thoughts more and more” -begins our conversation Klára Kolonits, surrounded by antique furniture. Some of them are family treasures, some they hunted down throughout Hungary, some items were built by her husband, Dániel Dinyés.
She comes from a musical family, then married a musician. It’s her twenty fifth year onstage, and it was in the very beginning of her career when her son was born. The parallel roads to a healthy family life and a successful career were long and difficult. “I am familiar with a three years old screaming 》Mom, don’t leave me, don’t go to work!《. Perhaps this is why playing the roles of mothers who abandon their children means the biggest challenge for me. Of course each role gives us something, many of my female figures have therapeutic effect on me. I can bring myself to express anything up to my most secret fear, my greatest suffering or my deepest anxiety.”
Klára brought not only her love for the music but also the attitude towards opera from her family home. “My husband says I’m a noble lady from Buda. I grew up in a particular environment, in the first district, where many system outsiders and their children found each other. We held together, but we were also very sceptical and closed towards the outer world. I’m not a typical primadonna even now, I’m not interested in superficial things. I continue my outsider, loner journey I begun as a child. This is why I always see myself somewhat on a side, even if objectively speaking I’m in the very middle. I am still often confused by the pronounced distance between my personal and professional self – and yet, I usually feel more free and comfortable when I am onstage. There I’m not limited by the duties and relationships of the real life.”
But of course nothing lasts forever. “Artists are in a very vulnerable position nowadays. We never know till when we get contracts, we always have to be ready that the current season will be our last.” – she says. But she has other projects too: currently, researching the story of her great grandmother that she plans to share in a book.
“She was an opera singer too, but also a politician’s wife, the mother of his children. According to family stories she never performed onstage after their birth. Lately I found out through historical sources, that she sang for much longer time than we thought, at the point when she sacrificed the stage for the family she had already made a significant career. I also discovered that she sang the same rare songs that I frequently perform. It’s incredible that her own family, her children and her grandchildren never knew about her art and she never talked about it. This is why I would like to go deeper into this mystery of a voice that went silent, how can its sound disappear in such a way that even memories cease to exist. Through her life I can transmit a lot of truths about singing and the vulneralibility of a singers life, that are also very important for me.”