They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In the family of singer Robo Opatovský, this is definitely true! This charismatic singer has some serious competition growing up at his own home. His daughter Hanka seems to have inherited her father's famous genes, and she is a great talent. During last Christmas, these two recorded a Christmas duet together called Sněhulák („The Snowman“), which they presented on social media. After a positive response from fans, they moved in front of the cameras and filmed a music video. However, Robo Opatovský does not dare to guess whether his daughter will actually follow in his footsteps. In an interview for LP-Life.com, the singer told us about how he is experiencing the pandemic, what he thinks about vaccinations and about his 220,000 EUR wedding ring.
It was chaos. I had the feeling that the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. That's why I decided not to follow these things so in-depth and I always learned what I wanted to learn. Musicians and artists - we're pretty sensitive people, and when all you hear about all the time is COVID ... how many people are infected ... how many people have died ... so I said - enough!
It was my most prolific period. I'm turning 50 this December 25th, so I thought I'd make myself and my fans happy. I made twelve Christmas songs, and we recently finished recording them. In September, I'm supposed to record with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, and if everything goes well, I should sing duets with Ondrej Brzobohatý, Bystrík, Mirka Partlová, but also with my father. I have created not only Christmas songs, but also other new songs. For example, songs called "Je nad slunce jasné (Clear As Day)", "Modlím se hudbou (Music is my Prayer)".
Do your songs have any connection to the current situation? Many people are losing hope that things will ever get better at this time.
I have a song called "Je nad slunce jasné (Clear As Day)". I wanted to make a positive song because I felt like there was an overload of negativity. Same with the song "Modlím se hudbou (Music is my Prayer)" - music is a gift from God and heals the body and soul.
There’s no other way. We have to pick ourselves up. I also told myself that I will not cry myself to sleep, but I will start myself up, and so I created a lot of new songs. I'm happy to start performing again and I hope that the whole Slovak culture will now rise like a phoenix from the ashes and we will bounce back from the bottom.
This year your music video called "Blázen (The Fool)" saw the light of day. The powerful and beautiful lyrics are from the pen of Olga Záblacká and it is a continuation of the song "Když muž miluje ženu (When a man loves a woman)". But unlike that song, "The Fool" is about hard reality and it deals with infidelity.
I don't think I would. When you choose your partner, like I chose my wife, you make a decision in your heart. I told myself that this would be the mother of my children and the woman I wanted to grow old with. She feels the same way and I haven't had any negative experiences. So the lyrics Olga wrote, I just had to imagine it somehow and live it out internally. But I am very lucky to have found a woman I am sure of and who in turn can be sure of me. I have my years, I wouldn't want to complicate my life. Even for the sake of my daughter, whom I love more than anything. Before I got married, I was also finding myself and had various affairs. But a moment came when God sent the woman I want to grow old with to cross my path and I think that's the way it's going to be.
Part of your music video was shot in Hungary, where, like everywhere else, strict measures were put in place because of the coronavirus. Tell us how it went. I'm sure at least some permits were needed.
Lots of them. There was a lot of paperwork involved, and eventually, we got to the border and there was nobody there /laughs/. And the same thing basically while returning, all of the paperwork on hand and we got through without any problems. On the other hand, we were prepared for everything. The next day, a hard lockdown started there, so we made it just on time.
Yeah, we do. Even during that previous period, I wanted to be out in the woods all the time. We have the Zatnická Valley near Skalica, and I used to go there to cool off, meditate and find inspiration. Every time I was there, I brought back a musical idea with me. That helped me get through the things that I firmly believe we've put behind us.
I love hardening. I like to do breathing exercises, which I need as a singer. I like to run, go to the vineyard, do some running. Now I thought I'd get back into tennis. I found a coach in Skalica. My daughter draws beautifully, so I figured that when I get a little bit of downtime and inspiration, I'll start learning to paint and draw as well.
I started doing that because I had to. No one has ever cooked for me as well as I can cook for myself. They're simple dishes, but I know what I'm putting in there. I know, for example, that I have eggs from a lady who cares for her chickens with love. I believe that diet is very important for a good immune system. My wife started working and she doesn't cook for me every day anymore /laughs/, so I cook for myself.
I don't read horoscopes. I believe that all I get comes to me because I know how to ask for it, but you definitely have to remember to be grateful. Every little success in life should be thanked for. I thank God for the amazing things that happen to me every day. I am a happy person, doing what I love. Last year we all asked ourselves, what now? Shall we ever be able to perform again? A year without performing was enough. If it lasted any longer, I wouldn't be able to support my family. It would mean looking for another way to make a living. I'm a conservatory graduate and I'd have no choice but to work with my hands. Of course, I have great respect for manual workers. I met many skilled people who did their work very well while building our house. I have great respect and awe for such people. On the other hand, I can't imagine doing something I have no idea about. /laughs/
Yes, in Slovakia. We're going to the Cascades. That's where we always spend our summers. We'll also be in the Orava Grove. Eight days in total. I told myself that I would devote this time only to my family.
What do you think about the government introducing new measures for people crossing the border in July, dividing them into vaccinated and unvaccinated?
It's going to be chaos again. For me, it will actually mean that if I want to invite my family to Hodonín for coffee and cake, I will have to get tested and then go into quarantine /laughs/. So one coffee will cost me five days in quarantine and then 70 euros for the PCR test, so... it's going to get really expensive.
Vaccination definitely helps, it's about the only thing we can do. But on the other hand, there are many people who don't want to get vaccinated and nobody should force them.
Robo Opatovský already has some competition growing up at home. You and your daughter Hanka recorded a song called "Sněhulák (The Snowman)" late last year. How did your collaboration happen?
Hanka wants to try everything. She saw me singing, so she started singing as well. One day she told me she wanted to have her own song. Of course, it had to be a modern song, because she listens to Katy Perry, Ariana Grande... and that's how we came up with The Snowman. Roland Kaník and I made a modern arrangement and Hanka was thrilled with it. I took her to the studio, where she did very well, and then to the TV morning show Teleráno, where she sang live with me. When I asked her afterwards if she wants to go to the studio, she said "no, I've been there already". I asked her, would you go for an interview? Her answer: "no, I've done it already". She tried it out and I guess that was the end of it for her.
It's not really a Christmas song, it's more of a winter song. I thought I'd put it on my Christmas album. I had this idea of giving the album the working title "The Family Christmas". I have a duet with my father and my daughter. But the album will probably be called something else. My daughter's dream has come true, her mission is over /laughs/ and I don't think I'll talk her into another collaboration.
To her, I’m just dad. She wanted to go to Teleráno, for example, and she said she's going to sing it live. I was stressed about how it would turn out, and she just rocked it. I see she's not scared, that's important. She may pursue music in the future, but she doesn’t have to.
She's got a good pitch, she sings well and she has a clear voice. It's good that these genes have been passed on to her. But I don't see her living for it. When I was a kid, my father took me to a guitar teacher when I was eight, and it wasn't until then that I got into music. Hanka sang her first song when she was six. 😊
I'd like her to become a happy woman. And most importantly, to be healthy and follow her dreams like I did. I'll support her in everything.
When I started playing music as a kid, I had a period when I didn't want to practice anymore. It broke at the age of twelve when I became really into music and started playing the guitar intensively. And when my father suggested that I try conservatory, it was a done deal. Music became part of my life. I started singing, making music, producing, I started my own label.
You have to accept if you suddenly stop doing well. That's normal. Every failure is actually a success because it moves us forward. I think it would be boring if we only had successes /laughs/. If you fall, you have to get up and move on.
On 5.7.2006 you met the love of your life. You married your wife, Katka, after two and a half years of dating. I hear you didn't skimp on your wedding, too. Many noticed that the bride's hand was adorned with a ring inlaid with white diamonds. Perhaps it was the same 220,000 EUR ring you admired at the bridal jewellery show...
Jesus Christ, where did you get that? I don't even know. That ring... wow, I don't know how much it cost back then. I have no idea. Who remembers, it was 2009, and now it's 2021. That's 12 years.
At the swimming pool. We met in Austria. She came there with her friends and I came with mine and suddenly I fell for her.
Yes, I do. For us, I wondered how it would be... after a few years of our relationship, I saw how selfless Katka was, that she could take amazing care of our child. She takes great care of the family. It's convinced me, and it's the most amazing thing that could have happened to me in my life.
You were born at Christmas, which is a beautiful time. Does this date have anything to do with your Christmas concerts? Are they more special to you than the ones outside of Christmas?
Christmas concerts are amazing. 12/25 is my birthday, so I celebrate with my fans for a whole month in December 😊. I've written a lot of Christmas songs and I'm happy that people love coming to my Christmas concerts. Last year we were supposed to have nine concerts but we ended up playing only one. There are things we can control and there are things we can't, so there’s no point in being concerned with them.
Robo, you are a kind and goodhearted person who always has a smile on his face and radiates positive energy. Few would say that you carry a grief that most people have no idea about. It's about your difficult childhood.
It's uncomfortable in that I perceived it as a very "intense" and challenging time as a child. When your own mother makes it clear out of the blue that she won't take care of you... well... the only thing I would highlight as a positive is that I was able to forgive her later. I even wrote a song called "Odpouštím (I Forgive)". The other very positive thing was that my father took me under his wing. I was with him from the age of six. I always wanted to have a happy family one day. I kind of prayed for this one and it came true.
Let's move on to a happier subject. In one session, an expert with an absolute pitch said that you are the singer with the purest musical expression in Slovakia. That's quite an honour, isn't it?
It is. But you also have to understand that I have a vocal coach I see every week. I have my own way of singing that I've been working on for three years. Basically, that's how my "Zpěv nás spojuje (Connected through Singing)" project came about in July. I want to teach others what I've learned. Together with my coach, I'm going to make videos, and we're going to teach singing to people who want to get into, for example, Superstar or shows like that. We'll teach them how to sing, do vocal warmups, how to use the microphone, how to breathe properly... etc.
In earlier interviews, fans have asked you how much money do the actors and actresses who appear in your music videos earn? Is it a secret?
It depends on the sponsors, how much money they put into the clip. But sometimes the extras are grateful just for appearing in the video. For example, we did a music video for the song "Tancuj (Dance)". There were a lot of dancers, and after the shooting, we threw a big party for everyone. I ordered a whole roasted pig and I took care of the people. But I can't say I paid them hundreds of euros. It was more about the fact that these people were happy to be in my video.
You're one of the few singers whose name isn't associated with any scandal. Why do you think there are so many scandals in show business?
In the past, maybe some scandals resonated more, but nowadays it's more scandals related to politics and people who are sucking this country dry.
Probably the song I'm most proud of is "Když muž miluje ženu (When a Man Loves a Woman)". I managed to do something special there. People love that song and it can't be missing at any of my concerts. And from the Christmas songs it's "Vánoční pošta (The Christmas Post)" with lyrics by Stanislav Štepka. It's such a gem that I was given. I think it's a song that will still be here even when I'm not.
I have a lot of material prepared. Besides the Christmas album, which will be out in November, I have other songs coming out. Now I have a new song ready for August. Like I said, there is a lot of material. I just need to find the time when it's ripe. And my dream? The dream is to continue dreaming. I dream all the time and my dreams come true every day. I can do what I love and what fulfils me. That's my dream.