Classical and Opera Interviews

WestbroekInterview: Elizabeth Bishop and Brandon Jovanovich in conversation about the SF Opera Ring and their future projects The early summer of 2011 has been particularly hectic at the San Francisco Opera House: in June, the first complete "American Ring of the Nibelung" – the one conceived by director Francesca Zambello – was finally unveiled, with three successful runs of Wagner's tetralogy. The Ring is notoriously an artistic and logistical enterprise that involves thousands on people: hundreds are on stage and in the pit... more>

Gerald FinleyOpera Interview: Gerald Finley in Glyndebourne's first Meistersinger In a few days time, on Saturday 21 May, the 2011 Glyndebourne season gets under way with an historic first: the biggest production it has ever mounted, Wagner's very own festival opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. And leading the cast, in his own first Wagnerian role... more> Jean-Michael LavoieInterview: French-Canadian conductor Jean-Michael Lavoie Born in Quebec in 1982, Jean-Michael Lavoie has begun to establish himself on the international circuit as a young conductor to watch and, say some on the inside track, to tip for great things. After two years as assistant conductor of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris.... more>
Nicholas CollonInterview: Young conductor Nicholas Collon talks about his Aurora Orchestra Amid the general gloom over arts funding, cutbacks, the reported slow but inexorable decline of classical music in general, it is refreshing to come across a confident, fresh, articulate and exciting new talent, in the form of the fast-rising young British conductor Nicholas Collon. In a break between rehearsals at... more> Stephen CostelloOpera Interview: Tenor Stephen Costello on his Glyndebourne debut The young American tenor Stephen Costello has had somewhat of a dream start to his operatic career, having appeared already on the stages of the Met, the Vienna Staatsoper and the Royal Opera House, among a string of other elite venues... more>
Michael FabianoInterview: Rising tenor Michael Fabiano stars in ENO's new production of Lucrezia Borgia The end of January brings an exciting new production to English National Opera: a staging of Donizetti's much underrated Lucrezia Borgia, directed by Mike Figgis. The line-up is impressive for the production: former ENO Music Director Paul Daniel returns to conduct leading... more> KurzakInterview: Aleksandra Kurzak returns to Covent Garden in Il barbiere Covent Garden has a reputation for nurturing young talent, and the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak is an excellent example. Spotted by the ROH's casting director, Peter Katona, when she was a young singer performing at the Placido Domingo competition many years ago, Kurzak was subsequently invited to step into an ailing singer's... more>
WestbroekInterview: Eva-Maria Westbroek talks about her Sieglinde, Turnage's Anna Nicole and Almodóvar Charismatic, knowledgeable, and self-ironizing: this is how world-class soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek comes across in conversation. She is currently in San Francisco performing one of her signature roles, Sieglinde from Die Walküre, in a stellar cast featuring Nina Stemme, Christopher Ventris, Mark Delevan, and Donald... more> DavisOpera Interview: Sir Andrew Davis on his return to Glyndebourne For twelve seasons, from 1989 to 2000, Sir Andrew Davis was Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, conducting and presiding over many memorable productions there: the three... more>
LuisottiInterview: San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti chats about his Puccini and his symphonic plans In one word: inspiring. Maestro Nicola Luisotti is enjoying his time as Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, and so are the people working with him. Waiting next to his office before talking to him, I was exchanging some words with the... more> RelyeaInterview: John Relyea chats about playing the bad guy and his Faust The San Francisco Opera summer season started only a few days ago with a production of Faust starring some of the most acclaimed singers on the contemporary opera scene. Together with Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco, a young superstar features in...more>
RacetteInterview: Patricia Racette talks about Faust, her cabaret repertoire and her Tosca Tatyana or Jenufa, Tosca or Suor Angelica: whether she is portraying a fiery singer or a strong woman trapped in a conventional society, Patricia Racette always discloses the most intense nuances of each character. Her lirico soprano voice makes all her performances special: she is aware of the puissance... more> SondraInterview: Sondra Radvanovsky talks about her Verdi Arias and future projects American-born soprano Sondra Radvanovsky (now living in Canada) has been steadily gaining currency on the international opera scene as a star of the first rank. Subsequent to her participation in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition and Winners Concert in 1995, she has... more>
GunnOpera Interview: Nathan Gunn talks about his Magic Flute, musical theatre and future plans Established as one of the most sought-after baritones, and loved by his public, Nathan Gunn is living a very prolific phase of his career. His artistry has reached an incredibly wide audience with his Papageno: he has brought this character alive for many years at the New York Met, in the acclaimed Julie Taymor's... more> Lawrence BrownleeOpera Interview: Tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his London recital debut Fans of the Met's regular cinema broadcasts will already be familiar with the work of tenor Lawrence Brownlee. At 37, he is well known for his appearances in bel canto repertoire all over the world, including the leading houses in Berlin, Vienna, Washington, Milan, Tokyo, Madrid, Munich and Tokyo... more>
Javier PerianesInterview: Pianist Javier Perianes on his Barbican debut tonight A rising star both in his native Spain and, more recently, much further afield, the young pianist Javier Perianes is in London for his debut concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican. The repertoire is a piece Perianes knows well and is in the process of recording for Harmonia Mundi, Falla’s... more> 5:15Interview: Rising tenor Saimir Pirgu joins fellow Albanian Ermonela Jaho for Covent Garden's Traviata Every time The Royal Opera revives its Richard Eyre production of Verdi's La traviata, it's quite an event. Last time saw the return of the original director to lead Renee Fleming through a radical revision of his initial ideas... more>
John TessierInterview: Tenor John Tessier stars in ENO's new production of L'elisir d'amore February brings two Donizetti productions to the London Coliseum. English National Opera will present the composer's most famous tragedy and comedy so that audiences can compare them side by side. First comes the return of David Alden's production of Lucia di Lammermoor, and the... more> CounterpoiseInterview: John Casken and Deborah Calland on Counterpoise's concert at King's Place Counterpoise play King's Place on March 29 in a recital curated by Barry Millington. The programme includes the world premiere of Ross Lorraine's Not more Lovely, alongside new film music by Jean Hasse, Kagel's MM51/Nosferatu and Ryo Noda's Mai. ... more>
John WilsonInterview: John Wilson, conductor of the BBC's MGM Prom, on Opera North's Ruddigore Although the BBC Proms are renowned for bringing many of the world's greatest classical artists to London, the concert that drew the most attention last year was – quite unexpectedly – a programme of songs from the classic MGM musicals of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. The man behind it all... more> RoseInterview: British Bass Matthew Rose on his upcoming recitals, operas, and British musical life No regular operagoer in the UK can fail to have noticed the upward trajectory of young British bass Matthew Rose in the last few years. Onstage at the ROH, ENO, WNO, Glyndebourne and the other summer festivals, he has consistently attracted favourable reviews, starting with 'promising'... more>
RoseInterview: German soprano Angela Denoke on The Royal Opera's new The Gambler Tonight, The Royal Opera will premiere a completely new production of Prokofiev's The Gambler. Directed by ROH stalwart Richard Jones, the production is sung in English and stars many of the country's leading singers, not least Sir John Tomlinson. But the cast also includes Angela Denoke... more> Colin LeeInterview: Tenor Colin Lee on the ROH's Il turco in Italia - and why he wants to sing Peter Grimes The Easter holiday period at Covent Garden brings us a revival of Rossini's Il turco in Italia in the production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. When it was unveiled in 2005 I adored its charm and wit, and in particular the beauty and spectacle of the staging. When the production... more>
Adrianne PieczonkaInterview: Soprano Adrianna Pieczonka performs Simon Boccanegra with Domingo at the Met A few days before her debut as Amelia Grimaldi in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka agreed to interrupt her pre-performance rest period to talk with me about her background and career as one of the most successful sopranos... more> Patricia BardonInterview: Patricia Bardon on The Rake's Progress at Covent Garden The Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon is, in my opinion, amongst the most special singers on the planet. I've never seen her give anything less than a world-class performance, and she's capable of singing a vast repertoire. Next week, she's back at Covent Garden to reprise the role of Baba the Turk... more>
Joyce DiDonatoOpera Interview: Joyce DiDonato on her Baden-Baden New Year gala and future plans Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has just finished a series of performances as Rosina in Rossini's ever-popular Il barbiere di Siviglia in Los Angeles.  It has been quite an amazing year for the charismatic American star. Currently riding a tidal wave of plaudits for her most recent... more> GenauxInterview: American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux We're a couple of weeks into the BBC Proms now, but the excitement doesn't stop. Next week, the BBC Philharmonic takes to the stage for two contrasting programmes, the second of which includes a concert of music with an Italian theme in tribute to the orchestra's Principal Conductor, Gianandrea Noseda... more>
PodlesInterview: Contralto legend Ewa Podles talks about her career and San Francisco debut There is one expression that best defines Polish contralto Ewa Podles: she is a legend. This is the way critics and audience often refer to her, showing admiration and affection for this singer who manages to conquer people's hearts all over the world despite her elusiveness. Her appearances... more> Roberto AlagnaOpera Interview: Roberto Alagna returns for Covent Garden's Carmen Tenor Roberto Alagna is one of opera's biggest talents and most famous stars. Ever since his Royal Opera debut in 1992, he has been a regular visitor to Covent Garden and has enjoyed a warm relationship in this country with critics and public alike. Alagna is in high spirits, 10 days into the rehearsal period. In a... more>
Sergei LeiferkusInterview: Legendary Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus chats about his return to Covent Garden The Royal Opera's pre-Christmas treat this year is a rare production of Tchaikovsky's fairytale opera, The Tsarina's Slippers. Brimming with great tunes, the opera is set at Christmastime and, to add to the colour, will include a collaboration with The Royal Ballet. Director Francesca Zambello... more> Soile IsokoskiInterview: Leading soprano Soile Isokoski returns to Covent Garden for Rosenkavalier and Figaro The relationship between the operas of Strauss and Mozart is well known and The Royal Opera's current season brings together perhaps the most obvious pair: Strauss' Rosenkavalier and Mozart's Figaro. Appropriately, the same singer will play both the Marschallin and the Countess... more>
Larry BlankInterview: Tony-nominated Broadway orchestrator Larry Blank chats about the BBC's Johnny Mercer centenary concert Friday Night is Music Night is the longest-running live radio programme in the world, and in this week's edition the BBC Concert Orchestra will accompany West End stalwart Ruthie Henshall in a concert to celebrate the centenary of... more> John CopleyOpera Interview: John Copley looks back on 61 years at Covent Garden and celebrates the return of his classic Boheme Opera production isn't quite like the National Gallery: whereas we treasure the greats of the past from the world of the visual arts, the average opera production lasts a couple of revivals at most and then gets put away forever. But, thankfully, one or two... more>
Janis KellyInterview: Unsung Heroine: Janis Kelly makes her Covent Garden debut It's been said numerous times in the national press that an opera singer's journey down the road from the Coliseum to the Royal Opera House can be impossibly long. This week, Scottish soprano Janis Kelly finally treads the boards of the Covent Garden stage after more than two decades of playing... more> DamrauInterview: Diana Damrau talks about La fille du régiment at SF Opera and future projects Glamorous and down-to-earth at the same time, Diana Damrau is one of the most beloved divas of her generation. Vocal acrobatics and sparkling performances are distinctive traits of her style: her Zerbinetta and her Queen of the Night are already legendary. But a desire for research... more>
Alice CooteOpera Interview: Alice Coote discusses Opera North's new Werther Alice Coote has become an ever more exciting presence on the opera stage over the past few years. Of her sheer vocal quality, and promise, there was not much doubt from her first public appearances, but the path to singing and acting stardom was not exactly smooth. The story is... more> StemmeInterview: Nina Stemme on The Royal Opera's new Tristan und Isolde The first new production of The Royal Opera's season brings together an exciting cast for Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. It's one of the most admired and revered operas in the repertoire, yet the complexities of both its Schopenhauer-infused libretto and its loaded harmonies – this is the score that's often credited as giving... more>
Stephen CostelloOpera Interview: American tenor Stephen Costello on the Royal Opera's Linda di Chamounix One of the most appealing innovations of the Pappano regime at The Royal Opera is the series of concert performances of lesser-performed works that have opened several of the seasons in recent years. This time, it's the turn of Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix, whose... more> Marianne CornettiOpera Interview: Mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti makes her ROH debut in Don Carlo When Sonia Ganassi had to back out of The Royal Opera's revival of Verdi's Don Carlo due to pregnancy, it can't have been easy to find a replacement that would suit such a high-profile cast. But in the end, no less an artist than Marianne Cornetti... more>
Renée FlemingOpera Interview: Renée Fleming on singing La traviata with The Royal Opera In a constellation of the world's opera stars, one shines brighter than all the rest. But it's not merely her ravishingly beautiful voice and physical glamour that make Renée Fleming special. In person, she makes an extraordinarily intelligent and articulate.... more> Nelly MiricioiuOpera Interview: A Dream Come True - Nelly Miricioiu returns to Covent Garden as Tosca A couple of weeks ago, Romanian-born soprano Nelly Miricioiu had no particular plans for the beginning of July. Then late one night, an apparent miracle happened: she received a call from the Royal Opera, asking whether she would like to take over the role of Puccini's Tosca from an ailing... more>
Ramon VargasOpera Interview: Ramón Vargas chats about the ROH's Un ballo in maschera The Royal Opera's summer Italian mini-festival continues with a revival of Verdi's mid-period masterpiece, Un ballo in maschera. Heading an interesting cast in Mario Martone's production is Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas in the lead role of Riccardo. Un ballo in maschera is one of the composer's... more> PappanoInterview: Taking Risks - Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera, on future plans It is now seven years since Antonio Pappano took the reins at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. A recent press conference announcing the 2009/10 season reflected a house in rude health, both artistically and, in the face of globally difficult times, financially. Having Pappano... more>
Diana DamrauOpera Interview: Diana Damrau returns to Covent Garden for L'elisir d'amore Amongst the most popular singers of her generation, Diana Damrau continues to fascinate opera lovers. Continuing her broad repertoire, Damrau is back in London next week as Adina in a revival of L'elisir d'amore. It's a role as charming as the soprano herself, who is down-to-earth as we chat about her... more> Vladimir JurowskiInterview: Vladimir Jurowski discusses Glyndebourne's 75th anniversary on the eve of the new season There's one more full day to go. On 21 May Glyndebourne kicks off its 75th anniversary season, a very special moment in the operatic calendar, with a new production of Verdi's Falstaff, directed by Richard Jones. 'I don't want to give too much away but I can tell you that it is an updated Falstaff,' more>
BychkovOpera Interview: Semyon Bychkov returns to Covent Garden for Lohengrin & Don Carlo Monday brings the return of a favourite classic to the Royal Opera House, as Elijah Moshinsky's production of Wagner's Lohengrin enjoys another revival. But for many, the main reason for attending will be the opportunity to hear the reading of Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov... more> Nelly MiricioiuOpera Interview: Nelly Miricioiu chats about a rare solo recital, her career and her recovery from a vocal crisis From Lady Macbeth to Tosca, from Handel to Respighi, from the Met to La Scala, Nelly Miricioiu has been conquering the operatic world for several decades. But a challenge which has long eluded the Romanian-born British soprano is a presence on the recital stage... more>
Mischa MaiskyOpera Interview: Julian Gavin on Opera North's Don Carlo Gavin speaks enthusiastically about the staging, which has been almost created anew for this revival. 'Tim has approached it like a new production – the rehearsal period has been as long as if it had been completely new – so it's been totally reconceived within the boundaries of the staging,' he explains. 'But one of the... more> Dmitri HvorostovskyOpera Interview: Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky on the ROH's Il trovatore Easter Monday marks a highpoint in The Royal Opera's calendar, as an exciting revival of Verdi's Il trovatore brings together two singers making their house role debuts with a member of the original cast of the production, the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. His role in the opera, the Conte di Luna...more>
Janet PriceOpera Interview: A conversation with Janet Price, 'Opera Rara's First Diva' A soprano's home phone jangles on a Wednesday afternoon. The caller is a frantic artistic director with a most unusual plea. His prima donna has cancelled on opening night. It's a difficult bel canto role, one our soprano has never studied or sung - no one, in fact, has sung it in well-nigh a century. The performance... more> Felicity PalmerOpera Interview: Felicity Palmer on English National Opera's new Peter Grimes One of the highlights of the opera calendar in London this May is English National Opera's new production of Britten's Peter Grimes. Considered by many to be the finest English-language opera of all time, it's the company's first new production of the piece in nearly two decades. Such is the nature... more>
Mischa MaiskyInterview: Mischa Maisky on new music, authentic performances and sound quality Cellist Mischa Maisky, who celebrated his 61st birthday on 10 January this year, is a relatively infrequent visitor to the UK. When I ask him why he does not play here more often, he turns the question round: 'You have many good cellists of your own, why invite me to come all the way over from Europe?' more> Danielle De NieseOpera Interview: Soprano Danielle De Niese on the ROH's Acis and her new Mozart CD American soprano Danielle De Niese's trajectory to stardom is the stuff of any singer's dreams. Blessed with exotic good looks - the result of mixed Sri Lankan and Dutch heritage – and a natural ability as actor and dancer to complement her voice, she is a one-woman Gesamtkunstwerk... more>
Elina GarancaOpera Interview: Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca on I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the ROH One thing's for sure: when meeting Elīna Garanča in the flesh, she's just as ravishingly beautiful as in her glamorous publicity shots for Deutsche Grammophon, the label to which she's exclusively signed. Returning to the Royal Opera House for the first time since singing Dorabella... more> Tim AlberyInterview: Tim Albery on Covent Garden's new Flying Dutchman and his 'quirky' hit-list Director Tim Albery has only been an occasional visitor to London's opera houses over the past decade. Yet just a few months after bringing a new production of Musorgsky's Boris Godunov to the Coliseum, he's back in the capital to direct Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at the Royal Opera House... more>
Leo NucciOpera Interview: Legendary baritone Leo Nucci on singing Rigoletto at Covent Garden The opera world is full of big egos, but in the case of legendary Italian baritone Leo Nucci there's no hint of arrogance. Unassuming in appearance and warm and respectful as an interviewee, he's not being falsely modest when he says at one point in our conversation, 'My life is music not a show'... more> Amanda RoocroftInterview: Amanda Roocroft on Jenufa It's a cheerful Amanda Roocroft who answers the phone when I call her a few days before the opening night of English National Opera's revival of Jenufa. Though she's been driving her children to various Sunday activities, the English soprano still jokes about her lively menagerie – 'a dog, a cat and goldfish' – and answers all my questions about... more>
FinleyInterview: Gerald Finley on Die tote Stadt, Doctor Atomic and roles for the future Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley is a singer who seems unable to put a foot wrong. He has been at the top of his profession for two decades, with a repertoire spanning three centuries of opera – from Purcell to Adams – and is equally at home in Russian, French, German or Italian as he is in English... more> CurrieInterview: Percussionist Colin Currie's Schwertsik premiere at the Wigmore Hall The Scottish Ensemble comes to the Wigmore Hall on 11 February to perform a typically diverse program of old and new music, including Stravinsky's refined neo-classical ballet Apollon Musagète, and also Mozart's Divertimento in F K138. At the centre of this concert is the London premiere of... more>
DaviesInterview: Soprano Sarah-Jane Davies on English National Opera's Magic Flute For an opera singer, being born and raised in Wales is an excellent pedigree. And if you're a Mozart soprano, even more so: with Margaret Price and Rebecca Evans as famous precedents, Sarah-Jane Davies can firmly join the line of Welsh sopranos to have excelled in the role of Pamina in The Magic Flute, which is ... more> Nicola LuisottiMusic Director Designate Nicola Luisotti on his plans for San Francisco Opera and Turandot at Covent Garden Opera lovers in San Francisco are certainly lucky. Starting in September 2009, the Italian conductor Nicola Luisotti takes over as Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, one of America's premiere houses. Luisotti has rocketed to prominence in the last few years... more>
Helene GrimaudClassical Interview: French pianist Hélène Grimaud on her new Bach album and singing herself hoarse at the Proms Hélène Grimaud is a long way off your usual jet-setting concert pianist. Her much publicised work with wolves and her beguiling beauty have been used to detract from her pedigree as a pianist. She's now a regular on the London concert platform, but this has not always been the case..' more> Sir Colin DavisInterview: Sir Colin Davis on Covent Garden's new Hansel and Gretel President of the London Symphony Orchestra and former Music Director of the Royal Opera, Sir Colin Davis is amongst the world's most distinguished conductors. Next Tuesday, Davis is back at the Royal Opera House to conduct a new production of Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel with an all-star cast. I caught up with him... more>
Susan BullockInterview: We chat to Susan Bullock as she gears up to sing Elektra at Covent Garden British singer Susan Bullock is one of the finest dramatic sopranos on the circuit today, a leading Brünnhilde and Elektra who is equally at home on the recital platform or in the concert hall. She returns to Covent Garden this weekend, though, as Strauss's great, obsessive heroine. It's a role which... more> Rosemary JoshuaOpera Interview: Rosemary Joshua on her return to ENO for Partenope and future plans Cardiff-born soprano Rosemary Joshua is one of the most in-demand Handel singers in the world, yet opportunities to hear her on Britain's shores are far too seldom. That makes English National Opera's new production of Handel's Partenope all the more welcome. I caught up with the soprano at... more>
Sarah ConnollyOpera Interview: 'Mezzo of the Moment' Sarah Connolly on her Opera North debut With a solid raft of achievement at ENO behind her, in a succession of Handel operas from Ariodante and Xerxes in 2002 to Agrippina in 2007, Sarah Connolly has more recently scored notable successes at Glyndebourne, in David McVicar's gloriously theatrical Giulio Cesare and in Katie Mitchell's St Matthew Passion... more> Kazushi OnoOpera Interview: We chat to the Opera de Lyon's new Principal Conductor, Kazushi Ono Kazushi Ono has just taken up the post of Principal Conductor at the Opera de Lyon. 'After I had decided to leave La Monnaie, I had three offers – one in Italy, one in Germany and Lyon. I chose Lyon because I like the approach, the ideas of Serge Dorny who is the Intendant there...' more>
Peter RoseOpera Interview: Peter Rose on ENO's new Boris Godunov and his first ROH Baron Ochs One of several new productions staged by English National Opera this season, their new Boris Godunov is among the most eagerly anticipated. Performed in Musorgsky's early seven scene version, it is directed by Tim Albery and features... more>

Christopher MaltmanInterview: Christopher Maltman on La boheme at the ROH and Don Giovanni at Salzburg Baritone Christopher Maltman first came to public prominence as the winner of the Lieder Prize at the 1997 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. He'd already been singing opera professionally for several years before that and his career since has been the story of one triumph after another. more>
Veronique GensOpera Interview: French soprano Véronique Gens sings in La Calisto at Covent Garden Next week, Cavalli's La Calisto comes to the Royal Opera House for the first time, in a critically-acclaimed production by David Alden that was first seen in Munich in 2005 and has been revived several times since. One of the main participants is French soprano Véronique Gens... more> José Cura (Photo: © Cuibar Productions) Interview: José Cura returns to Covent Garden for La fanciulla del west and Turandot Superstar tenor José Cura is renowned not just for his singing but also for the power of his acting. As a conductor and a composer, as well as a singer, his background displays an unusual versatility that has helped him create a series of much admired operatic portrayals... more>
Nicole CabellOpera Interview: Soprano Nicole Cabell makes her Royal Opera House debut as Musetta in a revival of Puccini's La boheme American soprano Nicole Cabell's rise to prominence in the last few years has been astronomical. On winning the BBC Singer of the World in Cardiff Competition in 2005, she went on to make various important debuts around the world and signed an exclusive recording... more> Joyce DiDonatoInterview: Joyce DiDonato opens The Royal Opera's new season with Don Giovanni American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato goes from strength to strength as an artist. British audiences will remember her for her extraordinary assumption of the role of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia in a new production at Covent Garden. DiDonato returns to the role to close the season next July. more>
Darren JefferyOpera Interview: Darren Jeffery on The Rake's Progress Bass-baritone Darren Jeffery is only a few years into his career but can already boast an impressive selection of major operatic engagements. As a Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, he sang fourteen roles including Bottom and Sprecher. Brussels was the scene of his success as Trulove in a new production of Stravinsky's The Rake's... more> Robert CarsenInterview: Robert Carsen on bringing his staging of Bernstein's Candide to London Though it might seem like unlikely material for a Broadway musical, Voltaire's satirical novella Candide provided Leonard Bernstein with the ideal vehicle for his 1956 show of the same name. In 2006, the Paris Opera gave the piece in a new production by director Robert Carsen, and it will be staged by ENO this week. more>
Mark Elder (Photo: © Laurie Lewis)Interview: Sir Mark Elder on Ariadne, the Hallé & the joys of being an English conductor Mark Elder is without doubt one of Britain's most valuable cultural assets and a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours this year is testament to the fact. In 2000 he was appointed Music Director of the ailing Hallé Orchestra and is widely credited with bringing them back from the brink...more> Barbara FrittoliInterview: Barbara Frittoli returns to Covent Garden for a revival of Le nozze di Figaro 'I have enough from life. I could say "I want to do this and this and this", but then I look at all the problems in other people's lives and think, "Just shut up and work!".' The Milanese soprano Barbara Frittoli has been a regular fixture at Covent Garden for a decade, during which time she has appeared in... more>
Johan ReuterInterview: Johan Reuter stars in The Minotaur at the ROH Perhaps the biggest event on the international opera scene this year is the world premiere on 15 April of The Minotaur, Sir Harrison Birtwistle's new opera, at Covent Garden. Making a welcome return to the Royal Opera after his acclaimed debut as Wozzeck in 2006 is Danish bass-baritone Johan Reuter, who will play the part of Theseus. more> Barbara BonnneyInterview: Barbara Bonney gives a rare interview in advance of her return to London American soprano has sung major roles by Mozart and Strauss on all the world's great stages. As she prepares to star at the Chelsea Festival in a programme including Strauss' Four Last Songs, she tells us how teaching rather than performance gives her the greatest satisfaction. more>
Jonas KaufmannOpera Interview: Jonas Kaufmann on singing his first Cavaradossi in Tosca at the ROH German tenor Jonas Kaufmann has taken his place amongst the world's operatic superstars in the last few years, with memorable appearances at Covent Garden in Carmen, La traviata and La rondine, for instance. We chat to him about his role debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca and much more... more> Robert LloydInterview: Robert Lloyd on the Royal Opera's new Don Carlo Veteran bass and ROH Senior Artist Robert Lloyd's career goes back over four decades. In an in-depth interview, he discusses how the Royal Opera has evolved, his experience of being the first British bass to sing Boris Godunov in Russia, and his plans to sing in Figaro, Traviata, Don Carlo and Aida at Covent Garden . more>
Amanda RoocroftInterview: Amanda Roocroft on singing The Merry Widow, Jenufa & Peter Grimes at ENO As some welcome light relief after a month's worth of contemporary operas by Birtwistle and Neuwirth, English National Opera will open a new production of Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow on 26 April. A perennial favourite with audiences, the operetta brings together veteran director John Copley... more> Janice WatsonInterview: Janice Watson on playing the Marschallin in ENO's new Der Rosenkavalier Janice Watson, the Grammy Award-winning soprano, is amongst Britain's most distinguished singers. As she prepares to return to the role of the Marschallin in ENO's new production of Der Rosenkavalier, she tells us about her varied career since winning the Kathleen Ferrier Award. more>
Nancy Fabiola HerreraInterview: Nancy Fabiola Herrera sings Carmen at the ROH This has been quite a season for Nancy Fabiola Herrera, the mezzo-soprano from the Canary Islands. In recent months, she's been on a concert tour of China, performed zarzuela in Madrid, and has just come to London to perform the title role in the ROH's revival of the Francesca Zambello production of Carmen. more> Andrew ShoreInterview: Andrew Shore sings Punch in Punch and Judy at ENO The month of April is saturated with contemporary opera in London. While the ROH prepares for the world premiere of The Minotaur, English National Opera has a less conventional offering in the form of a two-work mini-season at the Young Vic. The season includes Birtwistle's Punch and Judy, which features Andrew Shore as Punch. more>
Philippe JordanInterview: Philippe Jordan on the ROH's new Salome Richard Strauss' Salome returns to the Royal Opera House this week in a new production by David McVicar. The conductor for the production is Philippe Jordan who, having already conducted Saint-Säens' Samson et Delila at Covent Garden, is now tackling a biblical opera of a different sort in Strauss' torridly decadent score. more> Marina PoplavskayaInterview: Marina Poplavskaya sings in Eugene Onegin and Don Carlo at Covent Garden When the Royal Opera opened their season of French operas with a concert performance of Halevy's La Juive at the Barbican, an excellent evening was almost stolen by a young Russian soprano. By the end of the performance, the name of Marina Poplavskaya was ingrained on everyone's memory. more>
Barry BanksInterview: Anna Christy and Barry Banks discuss ENO's first-ever Lucia di Lammermoor For fans of Italian opera, the big event of the winter season in London is English National Opera's new production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor which opens on February 16. Incredibly, this is the first time ENO has performed the piece. 'It's absolutely visceral,' says Barry Banks, who plays Edgardo. more> Sarah Tynan and Robert MurrayInterview: Sarah Tynan and Robert Murray on The Mikado When I ask why the piece has endured for so long, Tynan replies: 'It's like all Gilbert and Sullivan, really: very sweet and light-hearted, funny and intelligent, witty and entertaining. It does what it says on the tin – it's not trying to be grand opera.' As Murray elaborates: 'The Britishness of those Gilbert and Sullivan pieces rings true, and... more>
Pinocchio: interviewInterview: Simon Keenlyside on The Magic Flute, Don Carlo and WozzeckWhat to make of Simon Keenlyside? The hugely popular English baritone has been described in previous interviews as 'self-effacing', 'cagey', as being like an 'emotionally rebellious teenage loner', 'restless' and 'painfully self-deprecatory'; the favourite adjective of journalists to describe him is 'troubled'. more> Sarah ChangInterview: Violinist Sarah Chang on Shostakovich with the LSO In a world seemingly awash with outstanding young violinists, one stands out of the crowd. Still some distance off her thirtieth birthday, Sarah Chang has almost two decades of a top flight career behind her. Having triumphantly overcome the pitfalls associated with the transition from child prodigy to well... more>
Judith HowarthInterview: Soprano Judith Howarth on playing Madam Butterfly at ENO Madam Butterfly is one of the most popular operas in the repertoire, but Howarth is quick to point out that it can often be misunderstood. 'I was talking about this to Carolyn Choa the director this morning – she doesn't want to portray Pinkerton as too much of a rogue, even though it can come off that way. more> Paul WatkinsInterview: Cellist Paul Watkins on becoming Associate Conductor of the ECO There can be few more prestigious engagements for a British cellist than performing Elgar's Cello Concerto at the First Night of the Proms. It says something for Paul Watkins' standing, then, that that's exactly what he did in 2007, in a widely-praised performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlávek. He will already... more>
Toby Spence: interviewInterview: Toby Spence on La Cenerentola Spence is back at Covent Garden to play Don Ramiro in Rossini's 'Cinderella'. 'It's the first time I've done the role and I'm looking forward to it very much. The aria is not an easy one! But the challenge of that role is to make it enjoyable, not to get hung up on the technical demands but to make it fun for the audience. It should be fresh rather than funny.' more> Pinocchio: interviewInterview: Director Martin Duncan and mezzo Victoria Simmonds on Jonathan Dove's Pinocchio for Opera North On Friday 21 December, Opera North will play host to one of the most important operatic world premieres the UK has seen in the last few years. After Flight, his acclaimed opera for Glyndebourne, Jonathan Dove has created a new opera based on the Pinocchio story. more>
Alessandro Corbelli: interviewInterview: Alessandro Corbelli on La Cenerentola A favourite with British audiences, baritone Alessandro Corbelli has appeared to great acclaim in recent seasons as Gianni Schicchi at Glyndebourne and in Il turco in Italia, Don Pasquale, La fille du régiment and La Cenerentola at Covent Garden. The latter opera brings him back to London this month but in a different role. more> Petra Lang: interviewInterview: Petra Lang on Kundry in Parsifal at the ROH One of the world's leading Wagnerians, mezzo-soprano Petra Lang is a firm favourite with London audiences. I talked to her as she was about to go into rehearsals for Kundry to ask her about her love of Wagner's music and how she hopes to help singers to cope with the strains of the opera circuit. more>
Ian Bostridge: interviewInterview: Ian Bostridge on his Barbican 'Homeward Bound' Series One of the biggest events in the UK classical music calendar over the next year is a series of concerts at London's Barbican Centre celebrating the artistry of British tenor Ian Bostridge CBE. Entitled 'Homeward Bound', it is Bostridge's first UK retrospective. 'I wanted to cover a lot of the things that I do,' says Bostridge. more> Barry Douglas on Camerata Ireland: interviewInterview: Pianist Barry Douglas on Camerata Ireland On 13 December 2007, Camerata Ireland will present a concert at Cadogan Hall under Barry Douglas, the acclaimed pianist and conductor who brought the team of all-Irish musicians together for the first time in 1998. 'Music is in a unique position to bring people together', says Douglas. 'It can bridge the gaps in society.' more>
Paolo Gavanelli: interviewInterview: Paolo Gavanelli Probably the greatest performance of a Verdi opera I've ever heard was at the ROH in June 2005, when Sir Edward Downes led a stellar cast including Paolo Gavanelli in Rigoletto. Gavanelli returns to Covent Garden this month for another new production, this time of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. He tells me what made him decide to take on Dulcamara... more> Claire Rutter and John Hudson on ENO's new production of Verdi's Aida opera interviewInterview: Claire Rutter and John Hudson on ENO's new production of Verdi's Aida For the first time in over twenty years English National Opera is going to unveil a new production of Verdi's quintessential grand opera. It's part of the company's ongoing plans to rejuvenate the repertoire. I met up with the stars of the show – soprano Claire Rutter (Aida) and tenor John Hudson (Radamès). more>
Patrizia Ciofi: opera interviewInterview: Patrizia Ciofi on Bellini's La straniera Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi is a beloved singer in her homeland, but British audiences haven't seen nearly enough of her. She last appeared at Covent Garden in 2002 as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, and now she's back to reprise a role at which she excels. I caught up with her to discuss her approach to the opera, and her plans for the future. more> Ann Murray on ENO's new production of Turn of the Screw opera interviewInterview: Ann Murray on ENO's new production of Turn of the Screw 'Now nothing too intelligent, OK?', says Ann Murray when I walk into her dressing room backstage at English National Opera. One of the most distinguished singers of her generation, Murray has had a long career built on roles by Mozart and Strauss and is now back to play Mrs Grose in David McVicar's new production. more>
Rosalind Plowright: opera interview on the Royal Opera's Ring CycleInterview: Rosalind Plowright on the ROH Ring Cycle Amongst the country's operatic elite, Rosalind Plowright is known for her intelligent musicianship, versatile acting ability and compelling stage presence. Having conquered most of the leading soprano roles in Italian opera in the 1980s, she overcame a vocal crisis and gravitated towards the dramatic mezzo-soprano repertoire. more> Andrew Kennedy on The Magic Flute at ENO: opera tenor interviewInterview: Andrew Kennedy on ENO's Magic Flute Since leaving The Royal Opera's Young Artists' programme in 2005, Andrew Kennedy has emerged as one of the brightest young tenors on the international circuit. Having played Tamino in English National Opera's revival of Mozart's The Magic Flute in 2005, he went on to star in Lepage's new production of The Rake's Progress in Brussels. more>
Susan Graham: opera interview on iphigenieInterview: Susan Graham on Iphigenie en Tauride American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who is one of the most gifted singers ever to appear on the operatic stage, returns to Covent Garden on 10 September after an absence of more than three years to sing the title role in a new production of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. For Graham, it is part of a season that is almost entirely... more> Sally Potter opera interview Carmen ENOInterview: Sally Potter on Carmen Filmmaker Sally Potter is no stranger to opera: her first film, Thriller (1979), investigates the story and score of La bohème from Mimi's point of view. She set her later feature film The Man Who Cried (2000) in an opera company in WWII Paris. Tenor Dante Dominio (John Turturro, voiced by Salvatore Licitra) sings many of the Romantic tenor leads, including... more>
Ana James opera interviewInterview: Ana James on the ROH Young Artists Programme The New Zealand soprano has had a number of successes since joining the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists programme. A memorable Barbarina in last year's new production of Le nozze di Figaro, she made an outstanding contribution to the recent concert performances of Massenet's Thaïs. more> Jose Cura opera interviewInterview: Jose Cura on Stiffelio and Peter Grimes Almost exactly twelve years ago, a young and largely unknown Argentinean tenor opened the Royal Opera's Verdi Festival playing the title role in Stiffelio, Verdi's long-neglected masterpiece of 1850. But in the interim, José Cura has risen to become one of the most highly-acclaimed and beloved singers of his generation. more>
Marcello Giordani opera interviewInterview: Marcello Giordani on Faust and the Met British operagoers have had few opportunities to see the Sicilian tenor since his debut in Simon Boccanegra at Covent Garden in 1997. But the good news is that he is appearing at the Proms on 6 September in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. more> Sally BurgessInterview: Sally Burgess looks back on her career The closing gala of this year's Chelsea Schubert Festival promises to be a particular treat, for one of the world's great singer-actresses is taking to the stage to perform an eclectic programme of songs by eight composers. Mezzo-soprano Sally Burgess has enjoyed a long international career that has spanned key roles in operas by... more>
Laurence Cummings opera conductor interviewLaurence Cummings on ENO's new Poppea English National Opera's new production of The Coronation of Poppea could not be in a safer pair of hands than that of conductor and early music specialist Laurence Cummings. When he returns to the London Coliseum on 18 October 2007 to conduct Monteverdi's last opera he'll be reunited with director Chen Shi-Zheng, a partnership that brought us Orfeo. more> Gerald Finley opera interviewInterview: Gerald Finley on Eugene Onegin at the ROH Canadian baritone Gerald Finley has become a regular fixture at both of London's opera houses in recent years. He's performed the lead roles in operas such as Don Giovanni, The Queen of Spades, Le nozze di Figaro and The Pilgrim's Progress at the ROH, while his interpretation of Eugene Onegin at ENO attracted widespread critical acclaim. more>
Violeta Urmana opera interviewsInterview: Violeta Urmana on Tosca The Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana is a formidable woman. She has a magnetic personality that radiates self-assurance, and a ferocious intelligence. Nevertheless, as we meet to discuss her forthcoming appearance in the Royal Opera's revival of Puccini's Tosca, she is respectful and charming. more> Christine Rice opera interviewsInterview: Christine Rice Critics and audiences have watched in delight over recent years as mezzo-soprano Christine Rice has put in some hugely accomplished performances, joining the front ranks of today's young opera singers by virtue of her compelling stage presence and vocal beauty. Recently, she dazzled in ENO's new production of Handel's Agrippina. more>
Krzystof Szumanski: opera interviewInterview: Krzysztof Szumanski on Donizetti's Rita Polish bass-baritone Krzysztof Szumanski joined the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in September 2006. After numerous appearances on the main stage in small roles, he has become one of the programme's most recognisable figures. On 18, 19 and 20 October 2007 he will play Gasparo in Donizetti's Rita. more> Ailish Tynan opera interviewInterview: Ailish Tynan on Fidelio Irish soprano Ailish Tynan is no stranger to the Royal Opera House, having spent two years there as a Young Artist between 2002 and 2004, and when we meet to discuss her latest role - Marzelline in Fidelio, which opens at Covent Garden next Sunday - she's evidently thrilled to be back with the company that fostered her artistic talent. more>
Rebecca Evans opera interviewsInterview: Rebecca Evans on Mozart and Britten The Welsh soprano has a staggering CV of leading roles around the world, for which she has won almost universal acclaim. At Covent Garden, she has sung Pamina (The Magic Flute), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Nannetta (Falstaff) and Johanna (Sweeney Todd) and her roles in America include Susanna and Zerlina at the Met. more> Jacques Imbrailo opera interviewInterview: Jacques Imbrailo on Owen Wingrave and Cardiff Singer of the World Imbrailo is unequivocally positive about the quality of training that the Young Artists programme provides. 'It's massively valuable', he says. 'There's no better place to be. The exposure you get even from just playing small parts like Morales in Carmen is amazing - I've had lots of job offers from that.' more>
cosi opera interviewInterview: Kyle Ketelsen on Carmen at the ROH It's been quite a year for Kyle Ketelsen. He's back at Covent Garden playing Escamillo in Carmen, a role he has sung more than any other. When I ask him whether he's looking forward to acting in Francesca Zambello's lifelike production, complete with live animals, he answers, 'I'm just hoping the horse stays forward!' more> Lawrence Brownlee opera interviewInterview: Lawrence Brownlee on Rossini with Pappano Tenor Lawrence Brownlee recently won the highest praise for his Met debut, at which he sang the role of Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia along with DiDonato as Rosina. By all accounts, it was an astonishing occasion. Evidently Brownlee, who has yet to appear in a major role at Covent Garden is something special. more>
Indra Thomas: interviewInterview: Indra Thomas on A Child of Our Time African-American soprano Indra Thomas is fast becoming one of the leading Verdi sopranos of her generation, having sung Aida, Leonora in both Il trovatore and La forza del Destino, and Amelia in Un ballo in maschera in leading houses around the world. Although she has yet to sing at Covent Garden, Thomas has appeared at the... more> Oxford LiederInterview - Feature: We preview the Oxford Lieder Festival 2008 and chat to its Director Art Song is a genre that can struggle to get an audience but for music lovers October in Oxford now only means one thing: the Oxford Lieder Festival. When I meet up to chat to the festival's Artistic Director and founder, Sholto Kynoch, he tells me how from its modest beginnings, the festival... more>
  Elizabeth WattsInterview with rising star Elizabeth Watts We meet up with Elizabeth Watts as she prepares to sing in Arne's Artaxerxes at the Royal Opera House. After completing a degree in Archaeology, Watts trained at the Royal College. An apprenticeship at English National Opera's Young Singers programme was quickly followed by winning the Kathleen Ferrier competition for.... more>