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Tarja Turunen’s voice travels

By Antonio Díaz, February 2012

Photo: Paul Harries
Tarja Turunen proves her onstage versatility in a variety of projects, from heavy metal to highbrow opera.

We get together with Tarja Turunen, who achieved international fame as the lead singer of metal band Nightwish before going solo, and ask her about rock, opera and the direction of her career.

Early 2012 finds Turunen on tour after releasing the album What Lies Beneath, with concerts across Europe from Portugal to Moscow followed by performances in Central and South America. In December 2011 the singer also released a live DVD and CD set recorded at Sibelius Hall in the southern Finnish city of Lahti.

Click to enlarge the picture
Turunen feels she has found her wings in the world of music.

You’re the first Finnish artist to reach gold in Germany both with a band and as a solo performer. What do you find are the biggest advantages of a solo career? Is there anything you miss from your period with Nightwish?
I would say that everything is different when it comes to having a solo career compared to being a member in a steady, well-established band. I had to find my own wings in the world of music in the beginning and it wasn’t easy, but I am so happy I went through all that.

I definitely feel more comfortable now than at any time before. The freedom I have to choose the people I work with, to write my own songs and to produce them is unbelievable. There are no boundaries that I need to struggle with – and no egos, because basically I am making decisions for myself! And no, I don’t particularly miss anything from my band years.

You’re a really versatile singer who can perform at the Savonlinna Opera Festival or make a hardcore heavy metal crowd scream. Where do you feel most comfortable onstage? Do you prepare differently depending on the venue?
These styles are extremely different, so yes, my preparation differs. I’m definitely still more nervous about performing classical music, since I had not done it professionally before my career in rock started to bloom. Before a classical concert I do some breathing exercises and vocalise much more than before a rock show. Mentally my concentration is 100-percent focused on the technical parts of the programme. I still take private singing lessons because I feel it’s vital for me.

At a rock concert I can have fun, do whatever I feel at the moment and just go with it. I love seeing the crowd excited about the performance and the people truly give me a lot of energy.

Photo: Tony HärkönenClick to enlarge the picture
The crowds of fans that gather to hear Turunen sing “give [her] a lot of energy,” she says.

Summer 2011 was pretty hectic for you. Which concert will you remember as the highlight of the season?
I wrote in my official blog that it was the best summer in my career so far. I had the opportunity to perform in several different kinds of concerts and jump into many new challenges, which I always love to do. It’s difficult to choose, but I feel that the concert with José Cura at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland was exceptional. It was such an honour to sing with him.

You shared the stage with Angra at the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil. How did that collaboration come about?
It was incredible to be at Rock in Rio! I have known the members of Angra for many years and worked closely with their guitarist Kiko Loureiro on my first record. I received the invitation and immediately said yes! It was so much fun to perform together and meet my beautiful Brazilian fans.

You spend a lot of time on the road. What do you enjoy doing when you return to Finland?
I usually go to see my family in the northern Karelia region, because I miss them the most when I’m away. That means a lot of laughing, cooking, sauna and enjoying every minute given to us. I also love to go out for a jog in countryside, weather permitting.

Is there any other artist or band you would really dream of collaborating with onstage?
Peter Gabriel is my hero! He has the voice, the charisma, the amazing career – we all need to have dreams, right?



Tarja Turunen’s official website

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