This magazine was at the salesstands in Germany in July/August 1992
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Dieses Magazin war an den deutschen Verkaufsständen im Juli/August 1992
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Please find the full text of the preceeding pages
"I enjoy the double-life in the hotel, to be alone,
the watching television at night".
Paris, Hotel Interconti, Barbara Hendricks arrives for a concert at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées. As usual without staff, because she hates stardom and dinners after the concert. On the opposite she loves to stay always at the same hotels. At the Interconti, because there is always a basket with fruits and three bottles Evian-water ready for her. And because the room 2045, the Junior-suite, is prepared as if she was at home, with old furniture and material-covered walls in old-pink.
First act after the arrival: a phonecall with her husband and manager Martin Engstroem, who takes care of her two children and her schedule at home.
Second act: taking her clothes out off her suitcase. Preparing the make-up in the bathroom. Drinking a glass of water. It all happens like a ritual for the 44-year-old operdiva, who was born in Arkansas, the deep south of the USA, where her father was a pastor.
Her velvet-satin-like soprano-voice sounds a bit smoky during the conversation, her diction is staccato and straight, determined. This is the same with her hotel-claims. "I need a big room for my gymnastics, which I do rigorously every morning with yoga and aerobics to the tapes of my Swiss trainer - of course at the open window.
I need a big room for my gymnastics in the morning
"That is the way the fragile opera-diva keeps in shape. And with an extended afternoon-sleep, if the schedule leaves her the choice. Rest and sleep - that is her big subject. No wonder with eighty international opera- and recital-evenings each year, in constantly new cities, with jet-lag and change of climate. In Vienna she always stood in the high-carated Hotel Britol. She loves the nearness to the operhouse and the heart of the city. The noises at the Wiener Ring but got so much on her nervers, that she moved to the Imperial.
Drastic measures she took once before the political change in Dresden. She could not stand the party-noise of wine-drinking guests from the west any longer but the receptionist was awe to put the moneyspending party of the "Wessies" (German expression for the West-German citizens in those times, just like "Ossies" for the East-German people) to a stop. For Barbara Hendricks this disturbance meant a sleepless night. A catastrophy before a Mahler-concert.
The tenor-collegue, who was first helpful, offered her his room which was situated to the courtyard. Unfortunately not as an unselfish deal. So the diva carried her matress into the livingroom, seething with rage, - but not briming over enough to shout at the neighbors. "That is not my cup of tea, even my children would certainly be surprised over an outburst of rage of mine."
After a stage-appearance she does not come to rest very soon. No matter where - she will watch television for hours in her hotelroom. She is happy with the American 24-hour-programme: Here she can relax from a Met-concert even at 3 o'clock in the morning. In New York she always stays at the Hotel Ritz Carlton; this offers rest, and old-fashioned and elegant atmosphere and fourty tv-programmes to relax.
How does Barbara Hendricks protect herself from the central regulated air-condition, which is dangerous for the severe opera-voice? Triumphingly she takes a black cashmere-cape out off her suitcase. "My weapon and constant accompanier against coldness". The studied Mathematician, who once was discovered in a church-choir, today is a booked-out star. For image-reasons she refused the main character in the cult-movie "Diva", who was written for her some years ago.
Her tour continues in London. Barbara Hendricks is there for studio-recordings for a new record. German operetta, French chansons and American musical for EMI is the programme. She will be accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra.
London - that means for her the small Hotel Beaufort, round the corner at Harrods, where she likes to buy fruits and chocolate. She travels in leggins hip-long "chemises", gyms and carries her hair simply as a knot. "I am a bad suitcase-packer", the diva says. "Mostly I pack far too much." Always with her she has her favourite picture of the two children, which she places on her bedside table next to the alarm-clock and various vitamin-drugs. Once Barbara Hendricks even took a flatrion with her on her trips, today she changed to non-crising clothes. For very noble robes she sometimes rents a flatiron from the hotel. In handling expensive clothes she only trusts herself.
In the Beaufort she relaxes on the comfortable sofa. The eager reader of papers and magazines informs herself about the daily news. English, French, German - the world-travelling diva masters several languages. For a variation she has a French paperback with her. A thriller? A novel? No, an exciting book by the French minister of health Bernard Kouchner "Les Malheurs des Autres". The pugnacious minister critisises the passive attitute of the government considering the misery of the refugees health, explains Barbara Hendricks. As goodwill UN-embassador for refugees worldwide she takes officially care of the misery of the homeless in the camps since 1987. When she is there herself, she sleeps like the people living there on the loamy soil. "There I neither need no rest nor service nor yoga", she says.
On tour this is different. The Beaufort serves her a whole tray with English breakfast in the morning. Mostly Barbara Hendricks but only drinks Ginseng-tea, which she has braught with her and eats fruits. In the evening she often orders the roomservice: fish, salats, nothing fastidious.
Only in Rome she becomes weak. Pasta, lasagne at the Italian restaurant around the corner, here she can not resist. "O what a joy", she hums from "Fidelio". "Once I ordered müsli for breakfast - in Rome" she laughs up loud, "Müsli in Rome, a crazy idea of course."
Third station: Leipzig. A recital at the opera and the five-star-hotel Markur, the Junior-Suite with panoramic view on the pollutioned city. Phonecall home, unpack her suitcase, but no Evian-water. And no "Antenne 2", her favourite French television-station. Nevertheless she says: "I like this double life in the hotel, to be alone, to watch tv undisturbed, the room-service - if it works."
The names of international hotels with quiet rooms are registered in a card-index at home. She does not care about prices, because responsible about the finances is her husband, whom she met at a concert in Stockholm in 1973.
In 1986 Barbara Hendricks was honoured with the title "Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres" by the French government. She is the youngest artist, that ever received this special award.
"Müsli in Rome - a completely crazy idea of course"
In her success she was supported by Karajan, Bernstein, Mehta, Maazel and Daniel Barenboim, under whose lead she had her first international success as "Susanna" at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In 1988 in Paris she celebrated her official film-debut as Mimi in Daniel Toscan's operafilm "La Bohème" under the direction of Luigi Comencini.
Could the star, who studied in New York at the Juillard School and had her official debut at the San Francisco Opera, imagine a permanent life in hotels, like Warren Beatty lived for many years in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles? She thinks it over for a moment. "No."
What is nerving? Without hesitation the star answers: "Three weeks touring in Japan! There I would go crazy!" There is a lack of communication, the beds are uncomfortable, there are too many people gathered on smallest space. What she is doing there? "Making phonecalls until the phone-bills reaches astronomical values. And looking forward to see my family again."