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5 Questions to

Ante Jerkunica

In Modest Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOW Ante Jerkunica, bass, sings the part of Pimen, the monk, who observes and comments on the power and powerlessness of Godunov, the tsar. Here Jerkunica provides his thoughts on power.

Boris Godunov
Conductor: Kirill Karabits
Director: Richard Jones
With Sir Bryn Terfel, Burkhard Ulrich, Dong-Hwan Lee, Ante Jerkunica, Robert Watson, Matthew Newlin et al.
31 Jan.; 3 Feb; 6, 9 Mar.

Is there such a thing as good power?
There are two sides to power, if you ask me: negative and positive. Good power reveals itself in knowledge, courage, character, wisdom. These qualities should be deployed in improving one’s own life and other people’s.

Does power have a shelf life?
Unfortunately not. That sounds pessimistic, but the signs are all there. We are witnesses to the abuse of power on a daily basis. It distorts the political process. Politicians should serve people, yet it’s us who serve the interests of politicians. To my mind, being a politician is a noble profession, and abuse of power has ruined this noblesse.

In terms of power, can you think of a positive role model?
I admire all those people who use their power to do good works. People trying to protect the environment, for instance, which we’ve all but destroyed. These people are taking responsibility – not just for themselves but for future generations. Trouble is, activists are usually not powerful enough. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change overnight.

Do we learn from history?
No. We see that day-in, day-out. History is continually being repeated. We seem to be hard-wired to self-destruct. At the same time, everything we’re experiencing today is also played out in literature! Take BORIS GODUNOV, a story of power and abuse of power set around 1600. Is there a huge difference between that and what’s going on today in Russia or the USA? I don’t think so. The details change, but the essence is the same.

What is a powerful voice?
It’s certainly not a matter of decibels! A voice is powerful if it touches the listener, if audiences leave the opera house having been deeply moved.