wed 30/11/2022

Opera Interviews

10 Questions for Soprano Pretty Yende

David Nice

Everyone who heard it must have been charmed by South African soprano Pretty Yende’s Radio 4 chat in which she recounted what hooked her on opera. It was a coup de foudre, watching a British Airways ad on telly at home in Piet Retief, and the sound of those two female voices entwined in the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Anne Schwanewilms

David Nice

She is now the world’s leading interpreter of Richard Strauss’s Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, the aristocratic thirtysomething once forced into marriage with a far from ideal husband and determined not to let it happen to the sweet girl who falls for her own much younger lover on first sight. As a happily married woman, Anne Schwanewilms has no need of 17-year-old boys, and in her vocal prime she can have no regrets about ageing beautifully, but she shares both the Marschallin’s...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Nicole Cabell

David Nice

Last year a DVD appeared featuring the 15 winning performances from the start of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition up to 2011. I watched them all, skimming if any seemed a notch below par but staying with most. You could see the star quality and the promise in many who have since become great artists, including Karita Mattila, Anja Harteros and Ekaterina Shcherbachenko.

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The Wagner Interviews

Jasper Rees

The last act of the Wagner bicentenary is upon us as a new production of Parsifal is unveiled at the Royal Opera House. There has been plenty to savour and ponder. The BBC Proms staged concert performances of seven of the operas. Opera North got on with their Ring cycle and Longborough Opera completed theirs.

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Wagner at the Proms remembered

David Nice

This summer, the Royal Albert Hall became the centre of the Wagnerian universe. No one was going to ignore Bayreuth, where Frank Castorf‘s new Ring gave plenty of fuel for column inches; but somehow the singers and the orchestra seem to have got lost there among all the apparently uninterpretable stage paraphernalia.

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Interview: Serge Dorny of Opéra de Lyon

alexandra Coghlan

 A lot has changed in the 10 years since Serge Dorny arrived at Lyon Opera. Attendance in a supposedly dying art form has risen to 96 per cent, and no charges of elitism or unfashionable nostalgia have deterred the 25 per cent of Lyon’s audiences who are now under 26 – Europe’s youngest opera-going crowd. But how has Dorny managed this, and at what cost?

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10 Questions for Semyon Bychkov

Jasper Rees

By the time silence descends on the Royal Albert Hall at five o’clock in the afternoon for a performance that will end six hours later, Semyon Bychkov will have been rehearsing for 60 hours. It breaks down into four days of orchestra readings, with tutti and sectional sessions for each act, then two days of the singers and a pianist, followed by six days of everybody together. And all for one performance of Tristan und Isolde with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly

alexandra Coghlan

It may have taken Sarah Connolly a decade or two, a detour to choral singing and a serious flirtation with jazz, but the British mezzo-soprano has most definitely arrived at full-blown National Treasure status. Perhaps it was her career-changing Xerxes in Nicholas Hytner’s 1998 Xerxes for English National Opera that marked the start of her reign, perhaps her 2005 Giulio Cesare for Glyndebourne.

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10 Questions for Writer David Mitchell

Jasper Rees

“If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, ‘When you’re ready.’” The words belong to Jason Taylor, the stammering 13-year-old poet protagonist of David Mitchell's novel Black Swan Green. But they will do for any artist presenting fresh work. Mitchell is going through an extracurricular phase of presenting fresh work to a different kind of audience.

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10 Questions for Opera singer Rolando Villazón

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Few singers provoke more debate than Rolando Villazón. His off-piste projects - from his Romantic exploration of the Baroque to his spell as a talent contest judge - have been much discussed over the years. By comparison, there's something strangely calm and conventional about Villazón's two latest projects: a new album of Verdi on Deutsche Grammophon and a performance of John Copley's La Bohème at the Royal Opera House. Yet you'd be foolish to ignore either.

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