Just ahead of the German AIDS Foundation's annual opera gala in Bonn on May 20, the vocalists tell DW why they're participating in this benefit concert.
A benefit gala concert in Bonn aims to use melody to raise the funds to confront a malady, for it's known that people are more likely to contribute to a good cause if they're in a good mood, and nothing improves the mood more than music. At the same time, the German AIDS Foundation's annual opera gala gives a sampling of the most in-demand voices on the international opera scene. We asked these sought-after soloists about their personal motivations for taking part.
French mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez
"It's one of the best causes, and if I can give something back to the people who need it, it makes me happy. It's always a pleasure to sing anyway. So being paid or not doesn't really matter. "
American tenor Joshua Guerrero
"Many reasons rolled into one. I really believe in the cause and in raising awareness and money toward the foundation. Also, it's a nice trip: coming to Bonn and seeing a part of the country I've never been to. It's also nice to meet fellow colleagues. And the musical experience itself is wonderful. I love to go onstage and perform and hopefully to deliver a message. And, if I can change a person's evening, my mission is complete."
Croatian soprano Marigona Qerkezi
"It's a pleasure to contribute with my voice to this very strong cause. Hopefully many more funds will be raised that can be used to protect people's health, to spread awareness and prevent the spread of this disease."
Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan
"I'm always thinking: How can I help people in a concrete way? And not just with my singing. Of course I believe that singing has the power to change a person's life. It changed my life and the lives of other singers, so why not believe it can change other people's lives too? I received this gift from God - the talent for music - free of charge, so I also have to give it back, free of charge. And, if you take a look at a singer's career, you can ask: What did he do to make the world better? That's what I'm trying to do."
Italian mezzo-soprano Annalisa Stroppa
"It's a great opportunity. I'm very happy to take part in a benefit, and in particular this one because it's a very prestigious concert. I really appreciate it when art, music and various people are all put into service for the same goal: to give to people who are less fortunate than we."
Georgian baritone George Gagnidze
"I'm very happy to participate in this opera gala for the benefit of people who are ill. It's one of the most important things I could possibly do. The only thing you can do for sick people is to support them."
Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg
"They have an AIDS gala at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, too, which is where I've been for four years. It's a wonderful atmosphere. You feel like you're part of a team in a big community. The goal of the fundraising is worthy of support in itself, with part of the proceeds going towards medical research. But this is really wonderful because it brings artists together from all over of the world. In one hour I've met singers from Brazil and America and Zurich and Croatia. I think these AIDS galas are quite unique because of the size of the operation and the way they draw all those strings to all corners of the world and pull them together in Germany."
American soprano Janai Brugger
"Anything for a great cause, especially AIDS, which is truly serious all over the world. I'm happy to contribute in any way I can to help with research and more understanding of the disease and helping those that need it. This is what art is about, and I'm grateful if art can be turned towards something good. I find it amazing that AIDS isn't talked about as much as it should be. This is a good way to bring it to the forefront and get the conversation going again, to raise awareness and to do something about the disease."