sat 21/01/2017

Opera Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter

david Nice

What's a world-renowned mezzo-soprano in her middle years to do? Slimline of voice, tall and handsome in person with piercing and slightly intimidating blue eyes, Stockholm-born Anne Sofie von Otter isn't likely to sing what is known in the operatic world as "all those old bag parts", though she's a good enough actress to have carried off a few.

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Save ENO: The Chorus Speaks

david Nice

"Just listen". That's an imperative, of course, but it can be a very fair and reasonable one if the tone is right. It was Claudio Abbado's encouragement to his Lucerne Festival Orchestra players to make chamber music writ large. It also sounds persuasive and not at all militant coming from the mouths of ENO chorus members as their plea to the dramatic changes proposed by Chief Executive Officer Cressida Pollock, appointed a year ago.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Elizabeth Watts

david Nice

Not many people write conspicuously brilliant tweets, but Elizabeth Watts is someone who does. Working on the most demanding aria on her stunning new CD of operatic numbers and cantatas by the lesser-known of the two Scarlattis, father Alessandro rather than son Domenico, she tweeted: “Good news – I can sing 88 notes without a breath. Bad news – Scarlatti wrote 89.”

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Edward Gardner

jasper Rees

It’s odd seeing the whole of Edward Gardner, as upright as a guardsman until a passionate passage unleashes a repertoire of fierce jabs, deft feints and rapid thrusts. For nine years Gardner's main post was on the podium in the pit of the London Coliseum where all you could see were his disembodiied hands and, slowly silvering over the course of his tenure, his schoolboy haircut.

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10 Questions for Mezzo-Soprano Alice Coote

thomas H Green

Alice Coote (b.1968) is one of the world’s leading mezzo-sopranos. She grew up in Cheshire, born to two painters, Mark Coote and Mary Moss, and learned her craft at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. Her breakthrough came in 2000 when, within the time frame of a fortnight, she sang Ruggiero in Handel’s Alcina at the Edinburgh Festival, and Poppea in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea at the ENO.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Jonathan Nott

david Nice

When I entered the light and spacious chief conductor’s room in Bamberg’s Konzerthalle, Jonathan Nott was poised with a coloured pencil over one of the toughest of 20th century scores, Varèse’s Arcana.

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10 Questions for Soprano Sandrine Piau

Sebastian Scotney

French soprano Sandrine Piau, born in 1965 in a south-western suburb of Paris, has an agile, supple voice. It soars, so critics reach readily for all those bird metaphors: nightingale, sparrow, "she leaves the earth on wings of song" and so on.

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10 Questions for Conductor Vladimir Jurowski

Jessica Duchen

The Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski, chief conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, heads its major new series devoted to the music of Sergei Rachmaninov, in context with his forerunners and successors.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Tenor Michael Fabiano

david Nice

You can usually trust the buzz around rehearsals. From Glyndebourne, five weeks into preparation for La traviata, which opens tomorrow, one of the team working on Tom Cairns’ new production declared in an e-mail conversation that newcomer soprano Venera Gimadieva was possibly the most definitive Violetta yet.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Mezzo-soprano and Director Brigitte Fassbaender

Sebastian Scotney

The mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender, who will be 75 on Thursday 3 July, was unsurpassed for dramatic impact and presence in roles such as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, during a singing career which spanned from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s.

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