An Enchanted Musical Evening at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence
The Embassy of Switzerland in Conversation with Swiss Opera Singer Äneas Humm
What inspired you to become an opera singer at such a young age?
Äneas Humm: My main inspiration was, and still is today, that I love music. I love singing, or listening to music. As a child, I was a member of the Zurich Boys’ Choirs and we were put together with many famous singers. The luxury of making a living from classical music seemed like a dream for me. I do what I love every day. That is very special.
As soon as I met my first teacher, Krisztina Laki, I knew that singing was the only thing I wanted do in my life. My teacher Edith Wiens really helped me to find my place in the business, and also guided me through some intense years of realizing what repertoire I want to sing and how I want to be seen.
What is your biggest musical influence?
AH: As a singer, we have many influences. But someone that is a role model for me is the German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter. She has had a fabulous career since she was a child, and has managed to have a private life, and gives back to the community in charity and outreach programs. As soon as I am able to, I will give back to society, too. It is very important that we do not live in a dream world. There are so many urgent matters on the planet that we as artists can address and effect change through our music and artistry.
You have already performed in quite a few remarkable plays. Is there a role or play you have always wanted to perform?
AH: Since having performed in Taiwan last year, I fell in love with Asia. It would be a dream to be there once a year for a tour. But really my biggest dream is to sing my whole life.
In 2014, Swiss Television produced a documentary about you called A Prodigy Is Growing Up (Ein Wunderkind wird erwachsen). Can you tell us more about your experience filming this documentary and how it has impacted your life?
AH: That was a very exciting time. Cameras were following me everywhere. It seems strange to watch it now since many years have passed by, but it is a remarkable memory and I love that this is a part of who I am today. Certainly this movie has given me many chances to present myself.
You live between New York and Switzerland. Could you tell us your favorite place to enjoy music in those two places?
AH: Well, in Switzerland one of my favorite concert venues is (where I also sang) the KKL Lucerne. It is so beautiful and I am always happy when I attend a concert there. In New York, my favorite hall is Alice Tully Hall, where I had the pleasure to sing a few times as well. It is built beautifully and has very, very good acoustics. I try to go as often as possible to concerts that include nonvocal repertoire since I believe it is crucial to hear other repertoire. One of my favorite memories here in the U.S. is when I heard the Juilliard String Quartet playing in Alice Tully Hall — Dvorak’s American Quartet, one of my favorite pieces of music.
What is next for you?
AH: I will now finish the 2018/19 season with a tour through the Netherlands and sing J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under the baton of Peter Dijkstra (a wonderful conductor) and then singing song recitals all over Germany before joining the Ensemble of the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, where I will be singing some of my favorite opera roles: Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.