Artist portraits

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Artist portraits

Opera is an art obviously based on works, but it also (and most especially?) relies on artists – on the performers, singers and musicians, on orchestra conductors and stage directors, who make opera an eminently living art. To better understand the role of these iconic artists, we present a portrait of them and put their careers in perspective…to go further.

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"Life is beautiful": Sonya Yoncheva, a positive, committed and open-minded artist in conversation

In recent years, the young Bulgarian soprano has achieved great success in many different roles with her extraordinary soprano voice and acting skills, and is now a celebrated star on all major stages. Born in Plovdiv, Sonya Yoncheva studied at the local conservatory and later in Geneva. In 2010 she won the famous Operalia competition, marking the start of her international career. As Norma, Desdemona and Medea, she was highly praised by critics. Despite "the interruption of important...


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"Art is a part of our being", a critical dialogue with baritone Michael Volle

The hotel terrace offers a wide view over Berlin, the current home town of international opera star Michael Volle. It is here where he went through the painful lockdown together with his wife, singer Gabriela Scherer, and his two children. "Spending such a long time in one go at home teaches you to understand and appreciate the meaning and the value of a healthy relationship". Home schooling with their two children was a special challenge that had to be mastered. He was...


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Simon Stone, ruthless explorer of works

In a few days, the premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera, The Dead City, will play in Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. Jonas Kaufmann will be appearing alongside soprano Marlis Petersen in a production by Simon Stone, created in 2015 at the Theater Basel. Let us take a look back at the career of the thirty-year-old director who has been fought over by musical and dramatic institutions alike for some years now. *** Les Trois Soeurs à l'Odéon, par...


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Piotr Beczała, a luminous elegance

The time is long gone when popular tenors had a career in films and had their own composed-to-order repertoire, between the expressive intensity of the lyric tenor and the intimate sentimentality of the crooner. It is no accident, or mere opportunity, that Piotr Beczała devoted a recital (Deutsche Grammophon) to Richard Tauber, the irresistible protagonist of Lehár’s last operettas: such a genealogy shows that Beczala has the intelligence not to seek gallantry, the...


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Krassimira Stoyanova, a balanced voice

There are singers who never appear on magazine covers, who have no entourages of fans following them everywhere, whose repertoire choices never become the subject of heated debates, yet who are universally appreciated by music lovers and programme planners: Krassimira Stoyanova is one of them; whether for Verdi or for Strauss, she is always among the most obvious choices in her repertoire for the world’s greatest stages. Among the few successful performances at the Salzburg...


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Thomas Adès, pragmatic contemporary

In the 20th century, there was an opera mystique, the mystique of the impossible and often single work: Schönberg never managed to find a satisfying conclusion to Moses und Aaron, and Messiaen, at age 75 and after eight years of work, delivered an outrageous and fascinating Saint Francis. And then there are others, composers who have long, continuous and productive careers, like Britten or Henze. Thomas Adès, a 45-year-old English composer, is one of the latter. The work...


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Sandrine Piau: musicality expressing emotion

The story of Baroquists in France is first and foremost a story about conductors, at least with regard to the mediatisation of this new movement, and these conductors were naturally able to take advantage of the irreplaceable coverage which their access to opera gave them - the famous Atys of 1987 conducted by William Christie is the best-known example of this. But that required singers: a whole generation would come out of this, and would often be reproached (so often...


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Kirill Petrenko, or the Nobility of Opera Music

Opera involves a lot of tedium. There are the singers’ moods, the constraints of any major undertaking, often a poor relationship with stage designers, and audiences that forget you as soon as the tenor comes on (see above). Many great conductors, once they have achieved some fame, prefer to devote themselves to the symphonic repertory, coming back to opera for certain prestigious projects as their fancy takes them, and leaving the pit to their less esteemed colleagues. But among...


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Portrait: Claus Guth

Beginning 4 August, the Salzburg Festival will give a new production of Fidelio, the unique opera of Beethoven, with Adrianne Pieczonka and Jonas Kaufmann in the lead roles. A new production directed by Claus Guth, whom is praised for the accuracy and the theatrical dimension of its adaptations. While waiting to discover his interpretation of Fidelio in a few days, we analyze the work of this effective storytellers in opera. *** Claus Guth is proof that, despite the naysayers,...


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Plácido Domingo, orchestra tenor

Plácido Domingo is a monument. Like all monuments, there may be a strong temptation to want to deconstruct him, put him on trial, undermine his foundations, and like any monument of that kind, the interested party is not the last one to provide arguments in favour of this deconstruction. This irrepressible desire to want to keep his long career going at any cost, for example: he had been paving the way for it for a long time, trying to establish himself as a conductor, with an...


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Portrait : Cecilia Bartoli Back in Salzburg

Cecilia Bartoli has had several careers.Since she set out to conquer the opera world twenty-five years ago, the Mozart and, especially, Rossini specialist has turned into an explorer of forgotten repertories with albums that became skilful marketing tools, accompanied by long tours with an unchanging programme:there was something highly displeasing in this carefully calculated spontaneity, with the same encores accompanied from one city to the next with the same gestures, the same...


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Nina Stemme: Wagner Today

Suddenly, it’s obvious. She had been virtually unheard of, and now her name is suddenly on everyone’s lips. Yet she was one of the winners of the first Operalia competition in 1993; she debuted in Bayreuth in 1997, but she was merely singing Freia three years in a row, and Bayreuth then forgot her until two summers devoted to Isolde, in 2005 and 2006.Meanwhile, she’d had the time to make her debut in Salzburg (in Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules in 2002),...