10 Questions for Fides Krucker

Fides Krucker in white

Fides Krucker (Photo by Jeremy Minmagh)

Fides Krucker is an inter-disciplinary vocalist, a performer, creator and teacher specializing in contemporary vocal repertoire: prolific, versatile & regularly involved in new creations here and abroad.

Krucker is known for her performances of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer’s works and has also premiered new operas by several dozen composers both at home and throughout Europe.  Krucker is particularly interested in bringing extended vocal techniques into the development of new work.  Her interdisciplinary work has included work with dance theatre company Jumpstart!, hologram artist Mary Alton and writer/director Thom Sokoloski for the music drama Artaud’s Cane (for which she received a Dora nomination in composition).  Krucker started Good Hair Day Productions, and is a founding member of and producer for the interdisciplinary female collective, URGE.

As a teacher Krucker is in high demand for private and group voice classes in Toronto by singers, actors, dancers and non-performers.  Krucker’s writing on voice/body work has been commissioned and published by the Canadian literary journal Descant and her teaching has been profiled in magazines such as Chatelaine.

Krucker Berio

Fides Krucker (Photo by J.Evan Kreider)

You can read a more detailed account here

Krucker’s next project, Julie Sits Waiting, from Good Hair Day Productions, with libretto by Tom Walmsley and music composed by Louis Dufort, opens Sept 14th 2012 in Theatre Passe Muraille BackSpace.

I ask Krucker 10 questions: five about her and five more about Julie Sits Waiting.

1) Which of your parents do you resemble (what’s your nationality / ethnic background)? 

I think I resemble my father…he is Swiss…both my looks and certain aspects of my behaviour. As I age I feel my hips tighten a little further – like his – and the bags under my eyes become more pronounced. My dad was always fiery and the ‘Krucker temper’ a bit legendary. The good part of that…his drive…was something I absorbed when I ran his business, a large wholesale bakery, in the early 80s. I feel it is the engine of the urge that has had me take on creating, commissioning and producing new work since 1991. During the time I was working for him I remember being surprised by a very astute comment he made about Faure’s Requiem. He was far more creative and sensitive than his career path might have indicated. I look less like my mum (she is a red head whose ancestors came from Scotland in the late 1700s) but feel more and more respect for her way of being – patience, a certain non-explosive grace under fire, an ability to reframe things once reality has made its point. She is my ‘Yoda’ these days. There is a history of art and music in her family as well as his, and a deep loyalty to ideas and people. I feel I am rediscovering my inheritance from her now that I have had my 3 decades of rebellion and individuation! Still, I am slightly spooked when my voice sounds like hers in a random moment.

2) what is the BEST thing / worst thing about being a singer creating original work?

Fides Krucker singingI love being involved, through improvisation, with a composer’s process of creation. It varies with each project – sometimes I may feel more like I have co-created or even composed my vocal lines and other times I feel that the raw material I have provided gives the composer a different shape for the sound of the female voice. Following the textures that I find interesting and pleasurable and the melodic curves that speak to me feels really satisfying on a visceral and emotional level. So it is freeing! But then it comes back on the page – and whether it is really similar to the original improvs or wildly transformed through the composer’s aesthetic – the hard work of ‘learning the freedom’ has to happen at this point. Sometimes finding a way to integrate apparent freedom with technical repeatability and musical precision makes me wish I had offered an easier sound idea in the first place!

3) who do you listen to or watch?

I get youtube crushes. So Anne Wilson of Heart singing ‘Crazy on you’ at the 2000 Women Rock Concert – so connected and so beautiful.  Diana Damrau in the Queen of the Night – steely precision – spine and sparkle! James Brown and Pavarotti doing a duet of ‘This is a man’s world’ – each of them animal in his own way. Janis Joplin and Tom Jones trading off in “Raise your hand” ….the hip action is fantastic as well as the joy in one another’s prowess. I love to contrast two performances of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – Robert Plant with Mary J.Blige – the feminine and the masculine illuminated in new ways. This makes me laugh as I used to think my younger brother was an idiot for liking Led Zeppelin as a teenager. I loved Bach!

As for opera, I have really enjoyed the joy in Adrianne Pieczonka’s voice and the balance of light and dark in Russell Braun’s performances. We are lucky to be able to hear them live here in Toronto. I was brought to tears watching a dvd of Dawn Upshaw in Peter Sellar’s production of Love from afar just a few months ago.

I was very soothed at one point in my life by Eva Cassidy’s voice and inspired by her abandon and clarity.

Matti Salminen – a Finnish bass – encouraging a type of carnal reaction deep within me to his sound. Jackie du Pres on cello – arriving at a rehearsal and asking “what will we be doing today?” – her repertoire so much a part of her that she could manifest extraordinary ease as well as passion. Eve Egoyan playing Alvin Curran or Ann Southam and guiding me to new ways of hearing.

I am curious about hybrids that could form – morphing Disney’s Snow White with Etta James. Can we map our own evolution through borrowing from others? Can we make our own models when we can’t find existing ones to learn from?

4) what ability or skill do you wish you had, that you don’t have?

I wish I was better at relaxing or letting go of things which bug me. I wish my tenacity was a little more tensile. I wish I could sail really well. I wish I could be in the full throttle of an emotion and slow down my sense of time enough to have my mind and maybe even some other balancing feeling come into play. I wish Compassion and Play were my middle names.

5) When you’re just relaxing (and not working) what is your favorite thing to do?

Oh God – I did not see this question before answering the last. I love to cook and eat. I LOVE DUCK. I love to walk someplace beautiful and thrilling like the Pembrokeshire coast. I really love to laugh with people in a way that invites lots of chaos and sparkiness. I love my old friends – just hanging out – knowing that the layers of experience – good and bad – are holding every moment. I love looking across the Prairies or a large body of water.

Five more concerning  Julie Sits Waiting

1) How does your role in creating Julie Sits Waiting challenge you?

She needs to think that this opera is a good idea…that falling in love with a strange and difficult man is the right choice and that passion is of supreme value – despite the fact that she is married to someone else. She has to be unable to choose the right path but not be pathetic in her inability to choose. There is an extreme vulnerability to her because she is taking such a risk in order to change…to evolve. It happens within a fairly conservative idea of what a woman is – from the outside – and I have to love her where she is at in her life’s journey and see how it is like mine and not like mine. I can’t question her logic but find it and live in it.

2) What do you love about Julie Sits Waiting?

I think it is really good art. I think that this opera doesn’t pull its punches – neither with story nor with form. It gives Richard and me a chance to do what we do well – work with a wide range of connected sound. I really like the maturity of the creators. Tom is a shocking and expert writer and Louis is a unique, incredibly current composer who has really ‘gotten’ Tom and infuses the piece with beauty and grit. The production team has a wealth of experience…beyond fad and favour…and I love what they illuminate with all of their choices.

3) Do you have a favourite moment in Julie Sits Waiting?

I love being in the passion, the anger, the frailty and the need of this character. I love it whenever singing the music, listening to the tape, fulfilling the staging and  looking into (or away from) Richard’s eyes all add up to a moment I could not have designed but am thoroughly engaged in. I love the authenticity of the story emerging between Richard and I.

That is maybe more process than moment but it leads to moment by moment inhabitation of this incredible story and a reality I would not otherwise know.

There are many lines that feel great in the mouth.

4) How do you relate to Julie as a modern woman? 

We are very different. I have a job out in the world (several really – teacher, singer, producer) and I identify strongly with my ability to do things and to have a kind of freedom through that. She is married and she has a daughter but we don’t learn about what she ‘does’ apart from that. In the opera she is caught in a moment of extreme and merciless transformation. I can relate to that. And the dilemma she is trying to unravel around love is one I can also relate to. “What is love at first sight?” “What is sustainable love? Passion?” She gets to make big mistakes trying to figure this out and then the opera is over. The big risks I have taken (or not) around relationship are with me today. And they have affected my family. I think the way the daughter is brought into the opera, and the woman’s role as a mother, make this a very modern cautionary tale. Or at least that is how it resonates for me. The story is not saying how to behave in any way but it is saying that decision or indecision both have consequences. I had already been separated six years when I commissioned the opera and in the years since then have watched many of my friends with children come close to separating or in fact divorce. It is not pleasant. But looking for sustainable passion is a really decent human desire….

5) Is there anyone out there who you particularly admire, and who has influenced you?

Sally Potter. Her film “Yes” blew my mind. The whole thing is in iambic pentameter. It is audacious and she found a way for the characters to inhabit it. I think I cried about 5 times in the first 25 minutes from the sheer beauty of the pull between this formal language and the emotional discoveries of the characters. It seemed to allow very large and sophisticated thought around love and difference to flow between the characters. And it invited amazing composition for each of the shots.

I love it when someone lets form break apart – pushes what is known until it has to reassemble as something new – Beethoven and Schoenberg are two composers I really feel passionate about.

The women of URGE – a collective I was part of for fourteen years. It is hard to collaborate and we struggled – but phrases each woman said in rehearsal and moments of unbridled creativity pop to mind more and more in the decade since we last created and rehearsed.

My students – they keep shining a light on themselves, through their voices, with such diligence – and they also look at their peers with unflinching affection and honesty. Richard Armstrong…he has such grace. My partner Nik – he is so kind and has a very particular wisdom and sense of humour, which I find helpful and really amusing.

My daughters have likely influenced me more than any other person or experience. They arrived so fresh on the planet and they keep sticking with life in such a glorious way.


Julie Sits Waiting — September 14-23
Librettist: Tom Walmsley
Composer: Louis Dufort
Starring: Fides Krucker and Richard Armstrong
Directed by: Heidi Strauss and Alex Fallis
Set and Costume design by: Teresa Przybylski
Video Design by: Jeremy Mimnagh
Lighting Design by: Rebecca Picherack
Sound Diffusion by: Darren Copeland
Co-Produced by: Aislinn Rose

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3 Responses to 10 Questions for Fides Krucker

  1. Pingback: Once is not enough | barczablog

  2. Pingback: Worth Waiting for Julie | barczablog

  3. Pingback: Mussolini vs The Mermaid: what little girls –and boys—dream | barczablog

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