Petr Nekoranec has garnered a number of accolades at renowned
European competitions. In January 2017, he won one of the most prestigious, the
Concurso Francesco Viñas at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where he
also received the Plácido Domingo Prize. Supraphon has released
Nekoranec’s debut album, made with the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by
Christopher Franklin. The recording features French arias.
Petr, what did you select for your debut album?
I opted for French arias for leggero tenor, striving to pick something that has
occupied a special position in my personal and professional life alike. That is
precisely what French arias are.
What was the impulse for making this album?
To tell the truth, I myself did not feel that the time was ripe for me to make
a solo recording. The idea actually came from my agent, Alena Kunertová, who
suggested it to the Czech Philharmonic. The orchestra’s representatives
agreed, so we decided to get going on the project.
In May 2019, you had a solo Baroque recital in Prague within one of
the Prague Symphony concert cycles. At the Staatsoper Stuttgart, whose soloist
you have been since September 2018, you are currently mainly performing in
Rossini’s operas. What is the basis of your repertoire today?
I am, and have always been, glad that my repertoire has been wide-ranging, from
Baroque right the way up to Romanticism. At the present time, I would define
myself as a young lyric tenor, which is an extensive category indeed. Of late,
I really have mostly performed Rossini roles, yet this season I am also
scheduled to portray in Stuttgart the Holy Fool in Boris Godunov, which will be
a step in the direction of more lyric parts. Yet before plunging into this
recording, my voice had grown a little bit – which certainly was not
planned – and it is becoming somewhat fuller, thus opening scope to other
roles, so I hope I will soon sing Mozart roles on stage too.
But your debut album solely features French music, which – as you
have said – is close to your heart. Have the arias been part of your regular
repertoire, or did you newly explore them for the present
Most of them were new to me. Another factor that prompted me to choose these
French arias in particular was the response to the solo recital the pianist
Vincenzo Scalera and I had at the Rudolfinum. The audience said: “The concert
was wonderful, yet the most wonderful was the French aria (“Fantaisie aux
divins mensonges” from the opera Lakmé). It was an entirely unknown aria. At
the time, I realised that French arias could be my secret weapon.
Yes, French arias really do appear to be your very powerful secret
weapon. After all, performances of two of them have earned you great
Absolutely. Nadir’s aria, from Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles,
and “Ah! Mes ami”, from Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du regiment, are the
two gems owing to which I have gained success at competitions, either having
won them or received some prize. But most significantly, the arias made it
possible for me to study opera in Munich, as well as at the MET.
It would seem that you have been destined to sing French arias. Do
any of those you did not perform prior to making your debut album will become
staples of your concert repertoire?
All of them, I think. The French repertoire is like a Pandora’s box, it
encompasses a myriad of arias – primarily for tenor, and my tenor type in
particular. I myself have found 23 arias, from which we had to make a
selection, as we simply could not fit so many on a CD. We ultimately chose
11 arias and one duet. I intend to keep all the arias in my repertoire,
especially the concert one. Maestro Christopher Franklin and I would like to
make a small tour with the French repertoire, because both of us really like it,
and it is highly attractive.
What music is featured on your debut album?
Music by Jules Massenet, Charles Gounod, Gaetano Donizetti (although he was
Italian, the aria is in French), Georges Bizet, Hector Berlioz and
You have made the album with the Czech Philharmonic and the conductor
Christopher Franklin. How did the recording go? Had you worked together
We had not worked together before, we only met once prior to getting down to the
recording, in Milan, to figure out and rehearse the arias. I would like to
stress that my collaboration with the Czech Philharmonic and maestro Franklin
was very pleasant. I have the feeling that ever since the then chief conductor
Jiří Bělohlávek introduced me to the orchestra, they have treated me as one
of them whenever we have collaborated on a project. This attitude was also
evident during the recording sessions, when we were stressed, had to make it in
time, as we had only allocated five frequencies … They were even willing to
stay longer, five minutes after a frequency had finished, so as to record the
whole aria. Our working together was truly amazing.
How long did it take you to complete the recording and where did it
The recording took place at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, and we had five
three-hour frequencies, that is, two and a half days, which is a very short
time. But recording is not cheap, and it involves numerous people. We were
rather pressed for time, yet I believe that it has not negatively affected the
So it was really intense work. What was more draining – the
physical or the mental strain?
I must admit that never previously had I felt such physical pain for three
days. And I could hardly keep my eyes open. Over the three days of rehearsals
and recording, we expended an incredible amount of energy. I must confess that
I had no idea it would be so exhausting.
How did your voice cope with such extreme exertion?
I took some vitamins, of course, and did my best to give it a rest, so I did
not speak unless I had to. But I must say I am really proud of the voice, as
it handled it well … I also helped it by having some beer (maybe it was on
the Instagram), since it is a source of vitamin B and it does have a soothing
effect on the vocal cords, with the bubbles pleasantly freshening the throat. So
I opened a bottle of Pilsner on the stage, and all the Czech Philharmonic burst
Do you take any special care of your voice?
I strive to observe a healthy lifestyle in general – healthy food and
sufficient sleep. There is no better medicine for your voice than sleep. And,
first and foremost, I try to sing and rehearse in a healthy way, so as to keep
my vocal cords fit. After all, vocal cords are a muscle – when you don‘t
keep a muscle in shape, it gets tired easily, whereas when you keep it
reasonably active, its productivity is the highest.
Have you given thought to any interesting new project, either
recording or concert?
Yes, I have already made up my mind, we are just waiting for the appropriate
opportunity. I would love to record Janáček’s The Diary of One Who
Disappeared. Janáček’s music is marvellous. I was lucky and delighted to
have had the chance to perform it at a concert in Stuttgart, which confirmed how
much I would like to make a recording of the cycle.
What is your relation to the Czech repertoire?
I am quite sad that the Czech repertoire doesn’t contain a wide scale of
roles for my tenor type. I have sung Vašek, but I am yet to grow into Jeník
and the Prince … And all other Smetana and Dvořák operas are far more
dramatic. So I would say that, when it comes to the Czech repertoire, in the
foreseeable future it will be Janáček’s works in which I will be able to
bring my voice to bear.