tue 14/08/2018

Opera Interviews

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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theartsdesk Q&A: Tenor Stuart Skelton

alexandra Coghlan

Described variously in the press as "virile", an "Aryan hunk" and a "great blond bear" of a man, Stuart Skelton may be the physical embodiment of machismo, but there's nothing of the beefcake about his singing. A Heldentenor of rare beauty and lyricism, Skelton's rise to operatic fame may have come young, but his is a voice and a career that looks set to stay the course.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Opera Singer Sir Thomas Allen

Jasper Rees

The landmarks continue to mount for Sir Thomas Allen (b. 1944). Awarded the CBE 22 years ago and knighted a decade later, the great lyric baritone notched up his 50th role at Covent Garden in 2009 and this week in Cosi Fan Tutte he celebrates 40 years with the Royal Opera House. In the same week he takes up his new appointment as Chancellor of the University of Durham. Indeed, although he has sung everything from Monteverdi to Onegin to negro spirituals, in his speaking voice he...

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Q&A Special: Bass Sir John Tomlinson, Part 2

ASH Smyth

A legend on the operatic stage, Sir John Tomlinson (CBE) has sung with all the major British opera companies, made countless recordings, and for sixteen years was a fixture at Bayreuth, where he performed leading roles in each of Wagner's epic works. Throughout his career he has worked regularly with English National Opera and with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where in 2008 he created the title role in Harrison Birtwistle's The Minotaur.

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Q&A Special: Bass Sir John Tomlinson, Part 1

ASH Smyth

Next week Sir John Tomlinson (b 1946), renowned mega-bass and routine frequenter of the Covent Garden stage, appears in concert at the Windsor Festival. It is a picturesque halt on a career that sees him circling the world's greatest opera houses in the most epic roles in opera.

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