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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

INTERVIEW | Beatrice Rana: The Dressing Room Diaries

By Jennifer Liu on April 7, 2018

Pianist Beatrice Rana (Courtesy of the artist)
Pianist Beatrice Rana (Courtesy of the artist)

After concerto performances in Ottawa and Montreal earlier in the week, Italian pianist Beatrice Rana comes to Koerner Hall Sunday to play a matinee solo recital.

Ahead of the performance, Ludwig Van requested an interview with the artist. Her agent proposed a post-concert interview.

We accepted the quirky setup and met with Rana in her dressing room at Montreal’s Maison symphonique, where she had just performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The resulting conversation has sweet, fiery and pistachio tasting notes.

— — — —

What would you say to people that think Italians are sunny and charming in music or in real life?

I think that there is a reason why opera was born in Italy. That means that the sun is reflected in the bel canto — very open singing. The real plot of the opera is extremely dramatic — and we ARE very dramatic! So I think the main idea from outside [countries] is correct.

On one hand we’re very lucky — I’m very lucky to be born in Italy because there is a great musical tradition. But at the same time, being Italian makes it very difficult to get the German way of music[-making] and also the German way of singing — lied is completely different from opera. That’s the main difference — and very important to get.

What’s your post-performance ritual?

Ideally I would go out with friends, because there is so much adrenaline and so much energy — I’m not going to sleep until very late tonight!

Sometimes it’s even difficult to talk after a performance, but gradually to talk with people makes things much easier, because if you’re alone you think about the performance — “Ah this was good, this was not good” — at least for myself, I focus very much on what happens. I get stuck in the music. But if I have friends, people that I love, if they’re there at the concert, I prefer to go out, chat and, you know, sleep on the concert and then think about it tomorrow.

To let it mature in your head!

Yeah, exactly, but not consciously! *laughs*

What’s your favourite musical phrase in Italian?

Oh my God, there are so many! You know what, I found absolutely amazing in the Bernstein second symphony (“The Age of Anxiety”): “With gusto.” I found it absolutely like the typical way of an American to interact with Italy, it was so beautiful.

Actually, I find absolutely amazing in Prokofiev’s second (piano) concerto the “colossale” section. And… I think that for my personality, presto con fuoco is very much the case!

How’s your French?

Pas trop bien.

Do you have a favourite French expression?

[pause] Merde! *extended laughter*

In the good way?

Of course!

How about in English?

I find absolutely nonsense, “it’s raining cats and dogs.” I can’t stand when people say that, because I just start to think of the cats and dogs falling from the sky. But at the same time I love this sentence, and I also love “it’s not my cup of tea.” It’s so British! *raises imaginary teacup with pinky extended*

But you know, also the voice changes very much when you speak certain languages. Like, when I speak Italian, I don’t have this [English] voice. I find it very interesting. I change very much — it’s not conscious.

What are your thoughts on the Canadian winter?

Next question! *laughs*

Actually, my skin got burned today *shows windburn on cheeks* I was going out to practise in Ottawa, and the wind… I mean, it’s a real winter; it’s for strong people — I’m not strong! *laughs*

What would it take to convince you to move away from Italy?

I should find a place with… a kitchen who does the Italian [style]. That’s the main thing — because when I lived in Germany, I missed so much the food. And I’m not a foodie person, but [in Italy] simply even the worst restaurant or the worst person can make such a good pasta, compared to the rest of the world.

Or at least a good espresso. I could even survive with that.

Do you have any cravings for food after you perform?

Sometimes; it depends. Ideally yes, but if I’m on a diet, not really!

Do you have comfort food after a performance?

Oooh, I love ice cream. I would go for a great cup of ice cream.

Favourite flavour?

A good pistachio. But gelato, of course — no question.

What time does your body think it is right now?

Honestly, I have no idea. I arrived in North America two days ago, and it was a crazy flight. Today it’s already better — I feel like now it’s one in the morning, something like that. But yesterday it was 1 a.m. before the performance. But jetlag is something you deal with.

What would your backup plan be if you weren’t concertizing?

Honestly, I don’t know. I thought that I could be so many things — like a travel agent because I’m so good now to book my flights! I could be a hotel designer because I know exactly what is needed in a hotel room. All these things — but I would never be actually interested in all of them. And I never seriously thought about anything else than playing the piano.

[note: we found photo evidence of Rana with a cello in her hand]

What do you request in your dressing room?

I’m very easy with it. I love when there’s a coffee machine. There must be a mirror and water. That’s it! Those are my basic things. I don’t even need a piano inside – I usually don’t warm up with the piano: I hate to change instruments, because it’s really difficult to get to know the real concert piano, and then you have to change, and I find it very confusing.

It’s better if the room is warm, so that at least I can be warm. I practice until one hour before the performance, and basically stay warm.

Sounds like a plan!

I hope so!


Jennifer Liu

Jennifer holds a master's degree in piano performance and is pursuing her degree in journalism at Carleton University. Previously, she lived for classical music in Toronto and Montreal.

Jennifer Liu

Jennifer holds a master's degree in piano performance and is pursuing her degree in journalism at Carleton University. Previously, she lived for classical music in Toronto and Montreal.
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