Supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Opernwerkstatt am Rhein is using the time in LockDown to create radio plays/audio versions of their most successful children’s productions over years.
In February a version of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach will be recorded, with Solgerd Isalv cast as Antonia’s mother. The CD is expected to be released and available in the stores by mid May 2021
Opernwerkstatt am Rhein is an inventive touring opera company which focuses on creating music theatre for children in less privileged areas and give people with disabilities a place on stage in their integrative productions.
Supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Opernwerkstatt am Rhein is using the time in LockDown to create radio plays/audio versions of their most successful children’s productions over years.
It is comforting, in the midst of it all, that we are so many in the same situation. So many working from home, struggling to make the every day life work, keep depression and anxiety at bay and stay in shape in front of the phone or smart TV.
I’ll be honest with you, some days are better than others. This second LockDown is set to be longer than the first. But more importantly, it’s the second. It’s not new. We have better tools, we are better prepared, of course. But it’s not new, it’s tearing us down and the fear, for the time beyond, is rising.
I’m blessed to have fantastic colleagues with whom I can meet up regularly and talk about the situation and, more importantly, about art, about our place and duty in society. We meet up in video conferences and aim to constructively discuss what we can, must and want to do. It’s a loose group of rather different individuals, who didn’t know each other well before this group formed and it’s very enriching. A beacon of light in the January greyness.
The state Hessen has decided to put all performances on hold until easter, hence giving the people working in the cultural scene a possibility to plan ahead. If that all works out as plannes, easter 2021 truly will bring light into my world.
I don’t know much yet, but I can tell you that when the theaters in Hessen are allowed to open, we will surely play La Lucretia/Faust et Hélène in Darmstadt! Don’t miss it!
Since Germany entered the LockDown Light, Nov. 2nd, there has been no live performances taking place.
With a lot of passion for our art, solidarity and fascination the team behind and in the La Lucrezia/Faust et Hélène -production used this time to dive into two rarely performed and very fascinating pieces. It has been a very rewarding process and I’m full of gratitude to be allowed to work with this music and these artists. It would be lovely to show our work to you, but
all I can offer right now are some snapshots from the rehearsals.
Cultural venues close for November
All performances, for at least the upcoming four weeks, are forced to cancel in the attempt to “flatten the curve” in Germany
At State Theatre Darmstadt the rehearsals of Lili Boulanger’s Faust et Hélène will continue with the hope of being able to premiere the already Covid-adapted production on December 6th.
Good timber does not grow with ease:From “Good Timber“ von D. Malloch
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Covid-19 keeps challenging us, indeed. Due to the rising numbers of infections the theatres in Germany once again have to reduce their already very limited amount of sold tickets per performance. Locally as far down as to 50 tickets per performance no matter the size of the hall. Reacting quickly to how the infection spreads, these changes have to be implemented almost over night.So far there has been no reported spreading among theatre audience what so ever, thankfully.
The observant reader and follower will recognise, and possibly remember, my cooperation with the young opera company Compagnia nuova through their production of La traviata in Como, 2019.
In these days it seems that either people work more than a lot or not at all, depending on the circumstances. Compagnia Nuova were on short notice asked to take over some performance dates which a bigger production couldn’t accept due to the restrictions. Hard work has been put into creating a safe concept, overcoming covid-related challenges, restyling the set design and doing some musical adjustments in order to make the performances possible under the current demands.
An opera about wanting to live, even if life restricts us in different ways –What could possibly be more appropriate in this time? La traviata, directed by Silvia de Stefano is coming to the Schweinfurt theatre
It is a small world indeed: Taking over the small part of Alisa, in the Corona-adapted version of State Theatre Darmstadt’s successful Lucia di Lammermoor production, I once again, however briefly, came to work with the brilliant director Marcos Darbyshire. We met during our studies and then again a few years later, in Nuremberg. And now, Life willing and Covid permitting, we’ll work together again in Lili Boulanger’s Faust et Hélène – a production that I’m very much looking forward to.
Today is the day of my first premiere for the season 20/21. In the light of the news that Met is not opening at all this season, we are all even more thankful to be able to play. During a rehearsal period of six weeks we have been careful to respect all the rules and measurements imposed to secure our and our audiences’ security. And today is the day for our opening. Keeping our distance when singing, when talking or walking but playing intensely with each other. We are welcoming an audience of just over 40 persons to ensure a safe space for laughter and excitement. Today is the day of fairytale telling – Schaf, the sheep will begin its travels looking for its identity.
I’m so happy to have got the possibility, in these insecure times, to return to Mahler’s Rückertlieder. Though it was strange to sing with a plexi glass wall behind me, with long distance between the musicians on stage and with many empty chairs, to ensure safety, in the audience- it is a small price to pay for culture to live in troubling times.
It was my debut with Daniel Cohen, with Staatsorchester Darmstadt and my first performance as a member of the ensemble at the State Theatre Darmstadt and it was a bliss, musically and socially!
Thanks to all!
…die Intensität, mit der sie sich in den lyrischen Tonfall der Lieder vertiefte (beeindruckte). Dies gelang ihr besonders eindringlich im rätselhaften Gesang “Um Mitternacht” und im abschließenden “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”Klaus Trapp, Darmstädter Echo
The entire concert series, Gustav Mahler die Lieder, is an artistically interesting project of Cohen’s and I hope there will come a possibility for the series to return.
Come into the open…
I was holding my breath, but it is happening: State Theatre Darmstadt has launched its season 2020/2021, they are playing! I am singing! Oh joy!
Of course these days call for solidarity and big amounts of flexibility. Within the theatre, among the artists and, not the least, from the audience.
Due to safety regulations productions can’t be produced as we know them. Changing rules, and different challenges, give that the productions may not end up looking like they were first planned.
It is indeed a “Corona Season” but I am excited to get this possibility to work extensively with the conductor, and GMD, Daniel Cohen!
Seek comfort in the fact that the theatre is and will be playing, for sure. But the information on what and when will probably be presented a tad later than normal. I myself only have secure performance dates for the upcoming 2,5 month. And even those are somewhat uncertain, since some regulations still need to be cleared and explained. We will all need patience. And I kindly ask you to always double check the dates in my calendar with the homepage of the organizer/orchestra/theatre before planning a visit to a performance.
That said, with most engagements cancelled, I am relieved and happy to see that at least a few ones outside the state funded institution have survived. A Christmas concert in St. Lorenz in Nuremberg (with Ensemble Kontraste, conducted by Matthias Ank) and a chamber opera production of La Traviata with Compagnia Nuova shows us that culture will persevere.
Germany is returning to normalcy and slowly even the arts do their first attempt to go live. After 58 videos, it is time to take another step and I am excited to tell you that #CultureContinued is going LIVE.
LIVE – what an enchanting, exciting, promising and joyful word. LIVE!!
A three-evening-cooperation between Tafelhalle and #CultureContinued makes it possible to experience at least a selection of the #CultureContinued-Artists live, open air in the amazing Katharinenruine, the destroyed St. Catherine’s Church, in Nuremberg.
The church was associated with the Meistersingers who met there from 1620 to 1778, and is featured in the opening scene of Richard Wagner‘s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. -what better place can there be for a cultural revival after the lock down?
Episode I (18.6.2020)
Solgerd Isalv & Anna Körber
Episode II (16.7.2020)
Oper+ (Isabel Blechschmidt, Anna Körber, Philip Gaiser)
Hannes Stegmeier & Johannes Pflaum
Episode III (6.8.2020)
more info about the concerts
The Corona pandemic affects us all in different ways; personally, locally and globally.
It’s a profound human reaction to gather with loved ones in times of fear but with a virus spreading we are all strongly encouraged to practice social distancing. Isolation is terrible for a social creature.
Together with my colleague Anna Körber I have started the Youtube-Corona-Survival-Project #CultureContinued. We aim to spread light and emotional support in times of worries and isolation. We want to allow cultural diversity to live even in times of the corona virus.
During the past week we and our colleagues have found ourselves standing in our practice rooms and studios wondering which of our upcoming engagements will take place and which not. Since weeks of upcoming performances have been cancelled already in order to contain the virus, most of us worry about how to pay our bills. Putting the obvious financial aspect of this pandemic aside; I’ve sat down, digitally, together with close friends and colleagues. We have been pondering upon how we as artists can deal with and contribute to society in a crisis like this.
We think that art is not only a pleasant diversion in our daily life, but plays a most important role in periods when our society is challenged. Art can be a seismograph, a voice of public expression, and spread hope.
Our goal is to publish one video every day during the Lock Down, featuring very different professional artists, created with whatever means they currently have.
We might need to restrict our moveabouts and our performances might be cancelled but we will still do our best to provide society with art.
We are raising money to help to fund this project. The money raised will be fairly divided between the participants. Of course, at this time, any source of income is of help for freelance artists who otherwise make their living doing live performances. It is of great value to us to be able to contribute to a feeling of normalcy, to comfort those who are frightened, and to continue to pursue our art.
Tuesday was somewhat chaotic, to say the least. Follow did a “black Wednesday” when I, and my freelance colleagues with me, started getting one email or phone call after another about cancelled concerts and performances. Today is Thursday and now all the cancellations come, which, after the development the past few days, are expected…
I personally find it wise to cancel big gatherings at this situation. I think each and every one of us have a big responsibility to slow the spread of the covid-19 down as much as possible so that the health care systems manages and can help those of us who will need it.
However, this is indeed a very serious situation for freelance and self employed artists. The entire economy and many other professions get hit by this too, of course. We all know that it is unavoidable and that we will get through it. Somehow.
The problem is that artists normally, unfortunately, don’t have savings to speak of nor are they included in social support systems. I don’t know what the opinion can do, but so far the state funded institutions don’t pay for cancelled shows. For those of us who normally make a considerable part of our yearly income during easter, the situation is..harsh. For me personally not only the bigger concerts have been cancelled but even so the smaller (oper+)gigs, which I rarely even write in my calendar, where the audience is considerably smaller. They would have been helpful…
Only a few concerts have gotten “post-poned”, most have simply got cancelled. But even if post-poned is better than culture not happening at all, it doesn’t help paying the bills. Bills are not subjected to an eventual Corona-infection.
We are all trying to digest and deal with this situation and with the uncertainty of the future which comes with it. Please consider signing this petition which asks the german government to help freelance artists financially through this “shut-down”.
I and my colleagues will do what we do: We process what we experience through art. We will be there to support and sooth you with our music. We are just working on ways to do it safely. Stay in touch!
Yesterday we performed the last Boris Gudonov, directed by Wolfgang Nägele and conducted by Hermann Bäumer, at State Theatre Mainz.
In covid-19 times I think we were holding our breath if the performance would take place. But it was a lovely performance with an enthusiastic audience. The very best way to end a long run (the rehearsals started in September ’19).
It has been a great experience to work in Mainz; A nice town and a lovely house indeed. Of course an opera like Boris normally need many guest singers, as yours truly, but the fest ensemble made us all feel very much welcome and the atmosphere was better than one can hope for.
It is always a bit sad to say good bye to a production, the colleagues and my cool wig, especially after such a long time – but I leave with the best of memories!
I wish all visitor’s to my digital home all the best for the new decade! I hope 2020 will bring health, joy, success, love and hope.
2020 has started intensely on a global, international, national and also on a personal level. I personally feel positive indeed for the upcoming year and decade but I won’t hide the fact that there are many things on a global and international level which worries me a lot. I am trying to keep politics off this page but I do hope the world, in the meaning of all earth’s inhabitants, will stand together, take responsibility and help each other make the world a better place. In every aspect possible.
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So, let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and meMichael Jackson and Lionel Richie
I have hung my handmade wooden star-lamps in the windows; it is time to embrace candles, Glühwein, friends and coziness – it’s advent!
Advent means a lot of music of course. If you want to consume other christmas related music than the playlists in the shops this is the time of year where one doesn’t have to go far for options!
An Oper+ trio is singing christmas songs at Christkindlmarkt. You can find us somewhere among the people between 17:00 and 19:00 Dec 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th,15th and 16th
Second and third of advent I’ll be singing Händel’s Messiah in two different versions. On Dec. 7th a somewhat shortened version of Händel’s original piece from 1741, but in german translation in Schwäbisch Gmünd and on Dec 14th Mozart’s “updated” version of Händel’s Messiah from 1789 in Nürnberg. More details are to be found in my calendar.
I can’t help but wonder if the french revolution influenced Mozart in some way??
I heard Berio’s Folk Songs live with Malena Ernman at Verbier Festival when I was still studying and felt a strong wish to sing the songs somewhere some day. “Some day” turned out to be yesterday and last Saturday; Two concerts singing Berio and Weill (excerpts from Dreigroschenoper) with conductor Philip Pointner and the wonderful orchestra at the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen.
It has been such a positive and musically fulfilling experience and I’m very thankful to everyone at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen for the support and the great atmosphere!
Preparing the songs turned out to be a more interesting process than expected. Due to the challenges to understand and pronounce the different languages and dialects and to get a sense of what the traditional folk songs in the regions sounds like, in order to be able to make informed decisions, I found myself making good use of my Facebook-account. Amazing how many people from different countries and with different skill sets I have in my inner and wider network! Of even bigger value is that they all willingly helped me and all the interesting conversations which arose from my questions. Social media and the international, digital world at its best!
Maja Mlkva, who is behind the brand Maïsa -Slow Fashion Atelier, fitted the fantastic dress for me. I felt I needed something special for the Folk Songs and, also through contacts and a bit of luck, I turned to the right person!
The 12 weeks -project for which Oper+ won funding from the city of Nuremberg, as a part of their cultural initiative “Open Call N2025”, has come to an end. Read the press release from the city Hall here, (in german).
It was an emotional programme where I and my colleagues used music and songs to tell stories (that should be told) from the lives of the women who participated and give them our appreciation and thankfulness.
The farewells were emotional. It has been a very enriching cross generations-project where at least we in Oper+ have grown, discussed, philosophised and learned a lot about life and about our present (music) history.
Photos by Alexander Belik
Some reactions from the media:
In order to make some advertisement for our different programmes, I, Isabel, Volker and Matthias, all members of Oper+, performed at the Consumenta, Nuremberg fair trade today.
It was quite a challenge to perform in the big fair trade hall but the Oper+ members are courageous and perform opera everywhere!
As I have mentioned before I hadn’t expected to participate in another Boris-production so soon. Only a good year after having sung Feodor in Göteborg. However Mainz, the theatre and the town, has shown itself from a very nice side. The rehearsal period has been great fun and it has been a pleasure to meet so many new, nice and talented colleagues!
Tomorrow the show takes off and after we’ve celebrated the premiere we’ll play this production until mid March 2020. Check my calendar for the dates!
The tradition to, with some regularity, perform Bach cantatas during church service – as they were meant to be performed, is still alive in Germany. Even if I am not very fond of early mornings (and the church services are much earlier in Germany than in Sweden at least) these are gigs that I truly enjoy. A brief get together of very talented colleagues and fantastic music.
An excerpt as an example, with Jessica Hartlieb playing the solo violin:
One of my favourite compositions, Bach’s B minor Mass, was the music of choice for the first mutual concert of the new partner towns Erlangen and Bolzano. The big choir Kantorei St.Matthäus from Erlangen, German soloists, the Haydn Orchestra Bolzano-Trento, the conductor Susanne Hartwich-Düfel and I did music together during two successful concerts, one in each town.
I am very happy to have been asked to take part in this cooperation. It was a pleasure to sing the Mass with such a full sounding orchestra and I had a blast with lovely colleagues and choir members – It felt like old times when I joined choir trips in my youth.
The bus trip was a bit too long for my taste though. The traffic jams were crazy. Going by train has to be cheaper and more easy, immediately!! Going by car alone ought to be a bad option…
Next stop on my trip through this season is a revival of the emotional chaotic program Stimmungsschwankungen together with my good friend and pianist Anna Körber. It’s about as far from Bach as I can get…
The sunset is colouring the beautiful German countryside which is passing by outside the train window. I got back from my much needed and lovely vacation yesterday and am already on my way to Mainz for rehearsals!
With short notice I got asked to sing the small, but fun, part of the Innkeeper in Wolfgang Nägele’s new production of Boris Godunow on their main stage.
I am very happy to learn to know a new house and for this unexpected way to start my new season!
It’s time for a few weeks of vacation, time for nature, fresh air, loved ones and recharging.
I am looking forward to many inspiring and interesting projects the upcoming season; A B minor Mass in South Tyrol, two productions at Oper Vlaanderen with dream repertoire (Berio’s Folk Songs and Ravel’s L’heure espagnole), Mozart’s Requiem with Sinfonia Giuseppe Verdi in Milano and Mozart’s der Messias at home in Nuremberg.
In between I plan to finish the renovation of my apartment, make some serious progress on my Italian and I’m curious about the development of Oper+
It’ll be intense and I am very excited about it all!
But first, rest! I hope you all are having a lovely summer
The 12-week project “Wir schenken Dir Dein Lied”, where we aim to lend our voices to tell stories and memories of the older generation, has started! The first get-together was full of laughter, singing and interesting encounters.
We are excited, curious and humble (be)for this opportunity which will surely be very enriching for us in Oper+ . The cooperation with Adolf-Hamburger-Heim is all we could wish for, for this project!
After four years of gigging together in different oper+ constellations I and multitalented pianist/organist/conductor Anna Körber have finally stopped just talking and have taken action to our first program together.
Stimmungsschwankungen; a relaxed and joyful program, for piano and voice, which moves between emotions, genres, styles and languages in an unabashed manner
The premiere of this program takes place July 24th as a part of the Bridging Art concert series Eine gute halbe Stunde – which is what it translate to: a series of concerts, each about 30 minutes long.
A second possibility to enjoy our relaxed take on french operetta, Spanish folk songs, tango, schlager, jazz, opera and film music will happen October 12th as a part of a social/intercultural project, named GUSTAV
I’ve just had the pleasure to join the newly founded opera company Compagnia Nuova on their tour to Menaggio, Lago di Como, Italy
As I’ve always been interested in chamber opera, and a visit to the Como region, it wasn’t hard for me to accept the offer to sing Flora/Annina with them. The reduction of the big Verdi opera la traviata to a 90′ version (the company offers a 150′ version too) for five singers works amazingly well and was a lot of fun to work with. The team behind the company is impressive as well. I am glad to have got to know them and will follow the company with curiosity in the future.
The performance took place open air at the beautiful estate of Villa Vigoni, a very interesting centre for “european excellence” and German- Italian exchange. The short thunderstorm in the early evening, shortly before start, didn’t scare people off and the performance had more than 600 very concentrated audience members.
It was one of those blissful evenings you remember.
With the project “Wir schenken Dir Dein Lied” (We give you your song) and with support from many voters Oper+ was one of the winners of the Nuremberg OpenCall competition, a part of the city’s ambition to become cultural capital 2025.
This means that the project gets financing from the city of Nuremberg and we can realize one of all our ideas. The work with the project has already started and we will finish it with an official concert Nov. 2nd 2019
You can still read the description of our project here
Solgerd Isalv was rewarded the first prize of her category at the North Spring Competition 2019
The concert in Yerevan was broadcasted and streamed last Saturday, by Azatutyun TV, and for those of you who are using facebook, there is an excerpt with almost the entire finale to watch here
On Thursday we have our last performance of La tragédie de Carmen at the Wermland Opera. It has been a very interesting production to work with. I have truly appreciated discovering the working process together with my very talented and sweet colleagues. The process during the rehearsal period – freeing myself from the “traditional” way to read and perform Carmen, and the technical and artistical process of performing this strong reading so many times. It has been a gift of joy and development.
When I’m leaving Sweden for Franconia it will mentally be my begin of summer. I have some express learning to do for an other interesting production; Compagnia Nuova’s chamber production of La traviata. And in July something entirely different, a recital with Weill, Kreisler and Britten.
After four months with Carmen in friendly, sunny town Karlstad, it is time to move on.
I have to tell you about a fantastic project, “Das A”, that I learned about after the concert of Beethoven’s 9th in Jerevan last week.
“The young men in white shirts are our volunteers. We are now implementing a project with high schools called “DasA”. Maestro Sergey Smbatyan along with the musicians of the orchestra visit schools having meetings about classical music, and then the pupils visit classical music concerts. And those young men are the volunteers of that project. Here you can see some information about that project: https://www.rhinegold.co.uk/classical_music/classical-music-for-teenagers-in-armenia/ “Ani Abovyan, Project and Recording Manager, Armenian State Symphony Orchestra
Over a bite after the concert, conductor Sergey Smbatyan, showed “Das A” to me. Except “only” being a project where the musicians visit the schools followed by the pupils visiting the concerts, they are also developing a study material. As I understood it it’s a book for the music classes (obviously they still use books in the schools in Armenia) combined with an app. When you use these two together the app plays you the music of a certain composer when you point your phone to his or hers picture!
The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra was founded as an Youth Symphony Orchestra by an 18 years old Sergey Smbatyan and as the members have grown up as individuals, as an orchestra and as musicians the orchestra has become one of the most important in the country. Their engagement for spreading classical music is truly inspiring. I wish them a lot of success in their work!
As some of you did notice, and emailed me about, my homepage was down for a week. It was attacked by malware. I have now taken extra precautions and hope it won’t happen again.
Meanwhile I am travelling back to Germany from Jerevan, Armenia where I sang Beethoven’s ninth symphony with the Armenia State Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sergey Smbatyan. The concert was dedicated to the Europe Day and the audience consisted mostly of politicians, ambassadors, diplomats and NGOs, I was told. With the important EU-elections coming up it felt extra valuable to be part of such a day. I am thankful for the honour.
I had a fantastic, and delicious, time. The hospitality was heartwarming, the food fantastic and we had a lot of fun making this bombastic music. Since there isn’t much for the mezzo soprano to worry about in the piece I did my best to get an impression of the town and country even if my stay was sadly brief. I very much hope to go back, I really liked what I saw. I truly can recommend a visit.
Tonight I meet up with old friends from my “Operetta days” in Berlin and we will have a reunion singing on a private event in Frankfurt.
Tomorrow I’ll go back to Karlstad for the two remaining shows of La tragédie de Carmen. The run has passed so quickly!
We have now played 50% of the planned shows of La tragédie de Carmen at the Wermland Opera in Karlstad, Sweden.
The black box has been sold out or almost sold out almost every evening which is a joy and an honour. It is a fun production to play and the tight ensemble makes the many shows a blast.
Many reviews have come in, all of them positive in different ways. A selection of quotes can be read under Press
Another 9 shows to go! If you can come to this rather remote, but very beautiful, city – do it! The production is indeed worth it, I dare say!
A wish come true
Since I first learned to know about La tragédie de Carmen (Brook/Constant/Bizet) I’ve wanted to sing this particular version of Carmen. It’s an intelligent and dramatically intense reading, in modern eyes much closer to Mérimée’s novel than the famous opera as we know it.
Tonight is the opening night at Wermland Opera and I’m excited and happy to sing this part in this particular direction, by Sam Brown, in an interesting set by Bengt Gomér and costumes by Julia Przedmojska
We play 17 shows in total.
With one week and one day to the premiere, the rehearsals are in an intense phase. The extras have joined us, even the four-legged one, the orchestra has joined us as well, almost all light cues are fixed and the technicians are done building/rebuilding the set.
But mainly, everyone is still rather secretive about the art of the production. I can promise you that it’ll be good. It’s a very interesting concept and I think it’s very well directed of the language and the music. My colleagues are very talented indeed. But, it might be good to know that there is an official age recommendation from 15 years and there will be offensive language and images.
I am happy to announce that I have been asked to join the exciting new chamber opera company Compagnia Nuova. Founded in 2018 by the Italian director Silvia De Stefano and the German soprano Britta Glaser Compagnia Nuova made a name of themselves from their very first production.
Chamber opera offers fantastic possibilities for singing actors as myself to let the core of the drama speak. I’m very much looking forward to my first performance with the company as Flora in Como, July 6th 2019
Due to the unexpected bankruptcy of the airline Flybmi, Solgerd Isalv won’t be able to sing the two scheduled concerts in Würzburg and Nürnberg, a program of sacral duets together with the soprano Katrin Küsswetter. The concerts will take place but Solgerd Isalv will be replaced by Susanne Heinzmann.
“In 1983, stage director Peter Brook, in collaboration with writer Jean-Claude Carrière and composer Marius Constant, stunned the opera world by presenting, in an arena-like theater in Paris, a revision of Bizet’s Carmen that ran just ninety minutes. Its title, La Tragédie de Carmen, said it all. Brook eliminated many characters — and all choruses of soldiers, children and factory workers — in order to concentrate the action on the four main characters. All the major arias were maintained and dramatically rearranged for a chamber orchestra. The opera opened the year after in New York City and has been revived many times since then all over the operatic world.” [OperaNews]
It has come, the new year, in the middle of the theatre season. As they tend to do, the years. January is a month of preparation this year. La tragédi de Carmen, a reimagining of Bizet’s Carmen by director Peter Brook and composer Marius Constant, will be my fifth production of Carmen, the fourth version of the opera and in the third language (but yet the fifth text version).
I have long wanted to sing this particular version of Carmen. Its concentration, and restructure of the text and music, does something remarkable with the original libretto and somehow brings it closer to Mérimée‘s original.
I am truly looking forward to this, which I think will be an intense, challenging but artistically rewarding production, and am grateful for getting this possibility at Wermland Opera where I’ll be working for the first time. Michaela will be sung by Sabina Bisholt, with whom I sang Faust last season. It will be fun! And an honour; a relative of mine was a soloist in the house almost her entire career.
But packing for the fourth months will need some thinking.
The 55th Church music festival in Fürth, Fürther Kirchenmusiktage, is currently taking place (Nov 10th – Dec 8th) . I am very happy to be invited for the third time. This time for two concerts with very different programmes.
The first one, Ekklesiastische Aktion, named after B.A.Zimmermann‘s piece, is a big symphony orchestra concert, conducted by Ingeborg Schilffarth, which will be recorded by and for the radio, BR. B.A. Zimmermann and L. Bernstein were both born 1918 and the concert is of course a tribute to their 100th birthday. I am singing Lamentation from Symphony No1 (Jeremiah) and the treble solo in Chichester Psalms. Zimmermann’s music, which I’ve got a taste for after die Soldaten last spring, will be performed by Matthias Horn, Sibrand Basa and Daniel Dropulja. Members of the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg will be playing. Click here to by tickets.
The second concert, Umbrüche, is a journey through music history where I start with singing pieces by J. H Schein, written 1618. The program then moves via orchestra pieces by J.S.Bach (1718), F.X.Mozart (1818) and D.Milhaud (1918) to two world premieres by the composer Yulim Kim. Atalja is an interesting cantata (lyrics by Michael Herrschel) about the mythological person Athalia, who was a ruling queen of Judah for seven years, after her husband’s death, before she was murdered. The stories describe her as pure evil but maybe that was fake political news, suitable for the descendant rulers, which got written down? It is an interesting material to delve into for me. Bernd Müller will be conducting the Farrenc Orchestra. Tickets here
I am very much looking forward to start the new season with a concert with Jonas Olsson in Vienna. We are invited by Musikverein La Prima Volta and will be performing a, for us unusual, program with music by Händel, Haydn and Schubert. To sing Arianna a Naxos has been on my wish list for a long time and I can’t imagine a better musician to delve into this music with than Jonas.
The first half of the season I have the luxury opportunity to sing many concerts and focus on concert repertoire. Highlights: I will return to Bernstein’s Jeremiah in a concert which will be broadcasted by BR and the same festival, Kirchenmusiktage, Fürth, to which I’m happy to be invited for the third time, I’ll sing a world premiere by the young composer Yulim Kim (Text Michael Herrschel). A cantata with a feminist perspective and which is dealing with “fake news” – very interesting!
The first half of 2019 I’ll spend in Sweden singing Carmen at Wermland Opera. A company debut. It will be my fourth Carmen production, and they have all been very different from one another, but this time it is the Peter Brook -version which I personally find dramatically to the point. I’m very curious about the production (director: Sam Brown) and longing to even further develop my understanding of the role after the interesting work with director Barbara Schöne last season.
Some things which will happen during the season are not yet officially published but I’ll keep you updated here or through twitter!
The last performance is July 8th and it is sold out. As with the Carmen production, it makes me very happy. It’s a big satisfaction, and proof that the hard work pays out, for everyone involved. Oper in Starnberg is to large extent dependent on volunteers behind stage and this engagement for culture in general and for opera in particular is so important for society. A few of the amateur singers who participated in the Carmen production have made the trip to come to see Médée – that is an extra treat for me – an honour.
It has been a fun journey to develop the character of Néris together with director Ada Ramzews and my colleague Marieke Wikesjö who sings Médée herself. Even if it truly isn’t much to sing in total, Néris’ aria is beautiful and it is a thankful character to dive into: very emotional and, though silently, very actively participating in what is going on around her. The Capella München plays wonderfully under Andreas Schlegel‘s baton and it is a bliss to listen to the intermezzi when waiting for my next entrance.
I hope to be able to post some official photos some day soon.
Big congratulations to my colleagues and the team for the hard but successful work done!
O Herre, den allrahögstes enfödde Son
Tonight I and the soprano Katrin Küsswetter premiered our programme with sacral duets, a concept on which we have worked for quite some time. To find a well balanced, sacral programme for two female voices has been an exciting journey through the depth of our own saved scores, recordings and music libraries. The result is a combination of famous and not at all well known pieces from the baroque and the romantic period. I’m happy to have introduced my colleague to the wonderful music of Johan Helmich Roman – and it was of course fun to perform and have them perform some, in Germany unknown, Swedish music on the Swedish National Day
The concert, a part of a serie of charity concerts in benefit of the organ in St. Matthäus, Erlangen, was visited by a small but enthusiastic audience.
We are both very happy to have this project up and running and thankful to our partner in crime, for the evening the cembalist/organist Susanne Hartwich-Düfel.
The programme is for sale and if you are interested don’t hesitate to contact us
I squeezed this Carmen-production into my schedule for two reasons; to get a possibility to return to
a wonderful role and, more, for pure exercise, endurance training, after the many small to middle sized parts that I’ve been singing in the theaters the past few years.
I wrote on Twitter about an entire village creating opera, and it’s true, few in Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn are not taking part in some way. This production has made me remember why I turned to art and music in the first place. There is nothing fancy about it, no big names, no huge budget or historical location – but yet it carries the magic of art: when a very normal gymnasium, with craftsmanship, hard work and inspiration, turns into a theatre and a place for storytelling and question posing.
I, myself, have got a real challenge ahead; to sing Carmen two nights in a row after three intense weeks of rehearsals. But I trust that I get carried by this interesting and fun production and the
wonderful energy on stage.
Two days after the last Boris Godunov in Göteborg, I found myself in the heart of Bavaria rehearsing Carmen. Going from playing a young boy in shorts to a grown woman used to be in charge of every situation. It is an exciting co-production between amateurs and professionals in a very interesting concept by the director Barbara Schöne, focusing on the concept of freedom.
The first week was extremely intense. We blocked almost the entire opera in three days -and had a first BO (Rehearsal with orchestra on stage) with the chorus this weekend. The amateur chorus and musicians from the Leonhardi Ensemble are bringing so much joy and enthusiasm into the production. I am genuinely impressed what they already managed to do with Bizet’s rather complicated ensemble numbers. The work they put in participating in all the work behind the stage is impressive too.
This crazy schedule was due to practical issues, as always. It was a fun challenge but I am looking forward for the upcoming week of “normal”, more in-depth rehearsing.
After having enjoyed a most wonderful and intense spring in Göteborg, where every tree seemed to bloom at the same time, it is a lovely start of summer to bike to and from rehearsals through the Bavarian countryside. Watching all these green colours; the fields and the woods, I send a thought of appreciation to GöteborgsOperan who, as a part of their environmental work,spend money on behalf of the solists for trees being planted in Africa – a concept called: Tackträd (Trees of Thanks or Thank You Trees). It’s a fantastic idea.
Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten was the first production I did at Staatstheater Nürnberg as a guest. I simply love working in Nürnberg, not only because it’s convenient since I live there (though it does help) but because of the general atmosphere in the house: the make up department, the dressers, the extras, the stage hands, the chorus and orchestra members.
All the female parts were sung by guests in this production, and being from five different countries, constantly mixing three languages in the dressing room, we had so much fun together. Die Soldaten is a complicated and challenging piece and together with these lovely people I could relax, laugh and celebrate our small and bigger successes.
Almost every performance was sold out, which is not only unexpected but also quite an achievement with such a piece on the repertoire. Respect to the audience and applause to the team and to every one on stage! The production was very well received in the press; I’ll add reviews to the press section within the next few days!
Charlotte, as every part in die Soldaten I dare say, is one of those parts which you honestly don’t know if you can sing in the beginning and which therefore brings a long development and self confidence when you actually manage.
With time I’ve come to truly like, understand and respect the music. I’m very happy I got trusted with the part and hope I get to sing it some day again.
We all move on to different challenges and tasks now, having played the last Soldaten of this run. Who knows, maybe the production will be revived one day!
After me having been travelling back and forth between the Soldaten shows in Nürnberg and the Boris Godunov rehearsals in Göteborg, we finally made it to the premiere.
The director, Peter Konwitschny, with whom I had the honour of working for the Boris Godunov premiere in Nürnberg 2016 AND for die Soldaten this season, joined the rehearsals for the last two weeks and brought a lot of inspiration and thought into the direction. The main rehearsal work however was done by Annika Nitsch, who assisted Peter Konwithschny in Nürnberg.
I had a tough way up to the premiere fighting a stubborn cold but got the most lovely support from the house and from the, very musical, conductor Leo Hussain. I’m grateful for that and for my vocal chords being fit just in time for the premiere which was broadcasted by the Swedish Radio.
You can listen for 30 days on the Swedish Radio homepage
It is loads of fun to be back with this production and to share the stage with Clive Bayley, as Boris, is a pleasure every
night. I’m having a blast working with people from my student years and I’m truly curious how this production will be received in Sweden. In Nürnberg it was generally very appreciated
For the remaining performance dates, please check my calendar .
Tickets can be bought here
Today I arrived in my student town Gothenburg to start rehearsing Boris Godunov.
The premiere of Zimmermann’s die Soldaten went very well and I am both happy and relieved for the two successful performances we’ve had. Four are yet to come. I’m happy to get to do my Zimmermann-debut under such circumstances. Konwitschny’s deep understanding of the piece and my fabulous and funny colleagues Susanne Elmark and Sharon Kempton who both have earlier experience with the piece.
The premiere-audience was very positive towards both the director; Peter Konwitschny, the
set-designer; Helmut Brade and the conductor; Marcus Bosch. Not one single boo which is rather unusual for Nürnberg.
The bavarian radio, Bayerische Rundfunk, broadcasted the second performance live, March the 20th 2018 – B. A. Zimmermann’s 100 birthday. Such a piece, Konwitschny directing and the timing with Zimmermann’s jubilee are enough factors to result in a big interest from the media. The reviews have so far been generally positive. I’ve also got some positive remarks about character and vocal quality. Two examples:
“Die Charlotte der Solgerd Isalv hat in der tieferen Lage einen angenehmen Mezzo zu bieten, und in Zwiegesang und Duett sind die beiden [Susanne Elmark] unschlagbar.” March 18, 2018 – OnlineMerker (Friedeon Rosén)
“Dennoch wird munter gespielt und hervorragend gesungen… …die dramatische Stimme von Solgerd Isalv bleib[t] in Erinnerung.” March 19, 2018 – Donaukurier (Jesko Schulze-Reimpell)
The Live-broadcast on BR Klassik is available online until March 27th.
A short example from the third act is to be heard here
We have now got through the first two days of Endproben for die Soldaten (the Soldiers). Yesterday piano dress and today orchestra rehearsal 1 and 2. First act. We continue with the later acts after the weekend. To say that the orchestra sounds quite different than the piano score would be an understatement. It’s well orchestrated though, mostly quite singer friendly. These rehearsals are experiences, indeed. I’m looking forward to next week! The last before our premiere!
I’m taking the weekend off Zimmermann’s music and turning the clock back a good 200 years.
This weekend I have the fortune of singing Mozart and Handel in Ansbach, a town not far from Nürnberg. The theatre in Ansbach is currently giving Schiller’s play Kabale und Liebe and in addition to a performance a sermon is held in a nearby church, St. Gumbertus, reflecting on the piece. Together with the organist C.F. Meyer, I have chosen a programme suitable for the play. I have allowed myself to add one beautiful Rangström-piece the programme, even if it stands out a bit, maybe. Like Grieg, Rangström printed german singable translations for his songs. One of which I aim to use on Sunday – it feels rather odd to sing a Swedish song in german though.
The Wiegleb-Organ in St. Gumbertus (1739, renovated 2007) is the biggest baroque organ in Franconia and has a bright, transparent but full timbre. I’m looking forward to make music with such a special instrument!
As a result of a long process, long discussions and a lot of research I and Jonas published our three new Lied-programmes last week. We are offering three exciting and very different programmes for the upcoming seasons.
We are stepping into new ground in our cooperation and do not have one single contemporary Lied in the lineup. Our recording of Art-Oliver Simon’s Abendlicher Reigen is scheduled for 2019, so we will have enough time for our time as it is.
One program, on mythological themes, is concentrating on Haydn and Schubert
The second program is a beautiful, romantic, tribute to the wonderful works of Friedrich Rückert
and the third, an exciting and somewhat challenging program, focusing on the musical development after the turn of the last century, in Vienna.
We are both longing to share all this music with our audience.
Those of you who read Swedish can read about the programmes here, we are working on the translations.
Please feel free to spread the word!
Finally the day of excitement and, I must admit, some fear has come – the first day of Soldaten- rehearsal at Staatstheater Nürnberg.
It has been a long journey of learning, and I’m happy there are still some weeks until the premiere but I must say that the piece, the psychological drama (by Lenz) in itself and how it’s painted in the music (by Zimmermann), is growing on me. It’s complicated, no doubt, but it is somehow starting to make sense. As I so often have experienced with contemporary or, in this case, modern music.
I am curious indeed on how this rehearsal period will develop and how the piece will take form on stage.
For those interested in the piece I recommend this interview with Michael Gielen, who conducted the world premiere in 1965
Dear Visitor to my online chateux,
the turn of the year has come and gone and yesterday I signed something with 2018 for the first time of the year. It is always a strange feeling, I find.
However, the first week hasn’t passed yet and I’m enjoying as many different New Year’s concerts and galas as I can. Collecting inspiration from the audience side of things isn’t bad at times.
But this is the time to grab the year by the horns and get applications out, set the final touch on planned recital programmes and take some refreshing lessons.
The rest of the season is exciting indeed, with some for me new challenges. I will have to travel intensely between Nürnberg and Gothenburg for some weeks, for example.
The Soldaten – vocally the biggest challenge of this season, start in the end of this month. I’m excited to test my voice in this repertoire and work with director Peter Konwitschny again, for two productions even; Soldaten and Boris in Gothenburg. I’m curious about learning to know the conductor Leo Hussain and returning to my “home house” from my student years.
Later in spring I’ll be returning to Carmen, but this time in German, which will be interesting and in Summer, a new acquaintance for me, Cherubini – Medée, the french version.
Some concerts are yet to be squeezed in, so do excuse me if I get behind with the updates… Dates and more info for each performance can be found under calendar
I wish you all a healthy, joyful and successful 2018!
The snow is teasing Nuremberg. Comes and goes. Hovering in the air. Lets itself be smelled and disappears again. But the Christkindlmarkt is as cozy as ever and the apple-glühwein my favourite for the year. After extensive testing and serious research the winner of 2017 Lebkuchen-competition is Fraunholz . I truly recommend them. Düll and Eckstein shared the second place.
The true christmas feeling however came through music, who would have thought. Through singing a wonderful christmas concert, with Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium, in the St Lorenz church with fabulous Ensemble KONTRASTE – with Matthias Ank, conducting, and another more traditional christmas concert with all the traditional songs followed by Saint-Saëns Oratorio de Noël.
Today I’m leaving Franconia for Winter Wonderland, at home. But I’ll be back soon for die Soldaten at State Theatre Nuremberg.
Until then I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year
We have now played already four out of the planned eleven performances of Faust at NorrlandsOperan. I’m amazed by the number of reviewers who have made their way up to the north of Sweden; All the major newspapers, radio and tv, more or less local papers and bloggers. For those who understand Swedish I quote some of them below. With very few exceptions, the production has been very well received and even the more critical ones praise the musical level and the work of maestro Eric Solén.
A friend of my family, Kalle Prorok, also kindly let me use some of his photos for this entry.
“Solgerd Isalv sprider som Siebel, den besvikna svärmaren i Margaretas närhet, en begriplig vilsen värme.” Opus Carlhåkan Larsén
“[Marguerites] beundrare Siebel är här ingen yngling med sopranröst utan en förälskad väninna i byxor, den enda trofasta, underbart gestaltad av Solgerd Isalv.” SvD Bo Löfvendahl
“Det som händer är att sångarna, trots sina lysande vokala förmågor, verkar vilsna i den teknologiska scenografin.Tenoren Yinjia Gong (en alltmer förtvivlad Faust), barytonsångaren Kosma Ranuer (en avmätt diabolisk Mefistofeles), sopranen Sabina Bisholt (en komplex Marguerite) och mezzon Solgerd Isalv som den godhjärtade Siebel får liksom aldrig kommandot över scenen.” expressen Gunilla Brodej
“Mezzosopranen Solgerd Isalv, formar en riktigt charmig och positiv Siebel, den unga, naive studenten” Västerbottens-Kuriren Bengt Hultman
“I Norrlandsoperans Faust är sångarinsatserna som helhet klockrena. /…/ Siebel, Solgerd Isalv, från Norrbotten, övertygar som kärleksfull väninna till Margerite.” NorrbottensKuriren Yvonne Rittvall
“Solgerd Isalvs vackert trånande Siebel” DN Johanna Paulsson
“Vokalt var det mycket bra och det är absolut en av föreställningens höjdpunkter. /…/ Det var också roligt att få njuta av en mezzofavorit nämligen Solgerd Isalv som särskilt utmärkte sig efter paus och då tillsammans med Sabina Bisholt.” Operalogg Mogens H Andersson
After a summer of concerts and gigs it’s a nice feeling to be part of a production again. Not a revival, but a production build up new and with full rehearsal time.
Umeå, the City of Birches, is a small but beautiful city with very interesting architecture and the opera house, Norrlandsoperan is likewise small but edgy. They ordered a lot of especially designed fabric for the costumes, as reported in the local newspaper.
After an exciting Konzeptionsgespräch, where the young team (Eva Maria Mellbye/Marcus Olson) presented a thought through and sharp take on the Faust-material, not leaving Goethe aside, and the first musical rehearsals I’m excited to start the stage rehearsals.
It’s so much fun to work with conductor Eric Solén again (we met during my german debut; Britten’s Lucretia), my colleagues all sing beautiful and the music is heart (maybe I should say ear? or maybe even tummy) warming. Add to it the possibility to enjoy Swedish food, language and most of all, long walks along the river, Umeälven.
Norrlandsoperan is the opera house closest (“close” means something else in the north of Sweden than elsewhere) to my birth place, Råneå, and the artistic director, Kjell Englund, and I even played in the same orchestra in Luleå once upon a time (ok, I was a youngster sitting way back, but still) – I feel privileged to get to do my Siébel – debut under these circumstances.
Packing for three months away is quite a project. Especially when “away” means northern Scandinavia where the climate changes considerably between beginning of august and the end of October.
After a July full of concert, gigs, intense studies of Gounod’s Faust, packing and a lot of organisation, I took the chance of a mini vacation in Hamburg on my way north.
One needs inspiration and the architecture of Elbphilharmonie, beautiful Hamburg and maybe most of all, the absolutely stunning sound of Arp Schnitger’s organs were like a vitamin shot.
The organ in Jacob’s church in central Hamburg has a sound which is hard to explain. It sounds like an organ, yet like real wind instruments and the tone is smooth and full.
I and Jonas Olsson both studied, at the same time, in Göteborg but started our collaboration only after we had finished our degrees.
However life is such that we seem to have had a. project only every second year since then. Every time it’s a bliss, though, and we always say we ought to work together more often.
Jonas Olsson is a incredibly talented pianist specialised in contemporary music, internationally established. His collaboration with the Berlin based composer Art-Oliver Simon however, started through me and through the world premiere of the first part of the song cycle Abendlicher Reigen. I got the request to perform them in 2013 and saw a great opportunity to work with Jonas again.
Since then Jonas has recorded Art-Oliver Simon’s pieces for solo piano, some of which can be heard here
Tomorrow, during the contemporary music festival Oaarwurm, I and Jonas will premiere the second part of the song cycle.
Maybe the most complicated chamber music I’ve ever come across but full of crispy details and expression.
In the second part of the concert we will perform Das Buch der hängenden Gärten, Opus 15 by Arnold Schönberg. A very exciting piece, important in musicology and challenging but rewarding to perform.
I’m focused, nervous and very happy and excited!
Tonight the Ring-Cycle starts in Nuremberg. There will be two of them, with the last performance June 18th. Georg Schmiedleitner has directed, Stefan Brandtmayr has done the set design, Alfred Mayerhofer the costumes and Marcus Bosch will be conducting.
Listen in and send me good vibes!
Hardly has the Götterdämmerung revival passed and I’m intensely learning new music. The upcoming 2 months will be a challenge when it comes to learning, but so one keeps healthy and alert and there is so much music to delve into.
I’m taking over Wellgunde in the two remaining shows of Rheingold in the Nuremberg Ring, fantastic music that I’ve long wanted to learn.
In only two weeks Festival Aktueller Musik takes place where I’m going to perform the 23 minutes long Swedish piece Puksånger /Timpani Songs.
23 minutes. Effective. That’s a normal middle size role. That’s Wellgunde.
You know where to find me these upcoming two weeks.
My first visit to Russia turned out to be my debut on a Russian stage. An absolutely fantastic experience.
Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and the huge Choir, conducted by Pavel Kogan showed such a discipline and equilibrism when making music that I and my colleagues spent the two days of rehearsal and concert in a constant state of fascination and joy. The work with Kogan felt natural, direct and uncomplicated. His interpretation rather passionate in a way that I find fits the oratory very well. It is rather funny that Paulus and Pavel are written the same way in cyrillic “Павел”, but I’ll leave the topic of etymology to an other post.
What truly made me feel a deep gratitude and happiness was to get the possibility to make music in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, or rather, the acoustic of the Great Hall…Definitely way beyond of what I’m used to.
The Great Hall of the Moscow conservatory is one of the most famous concert venues not only in Moscow and Russia but in the world. Maestro Kogan told me it is (supposed to be) acoustically one of the five finest concert halls in the world. It was opened in 1901 and
renovated in 2011 – beautifully decorated in yellow and with portraits of important composers looking down at you when standing on stage. The hall has 1737 seats and our concert of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul was sold out. I enjoyed myself so much that I didn’t even get really nervous.
It was a very unexpected gig turning out to be pure bliss.
Photos by MSSO
The piece for two voices and timpani is going to be performed during the contemporary music festival Festival Aktuelle Musik 017 NAH – FERN in Nuremberg, as a part of a concert suitably called Jenseits der Aria – Beyond the Aria. Very suitable for this piece mixing an old nordic way of singing; kulning, with classical singing and extremely low passages where the voice is hardly anything but breath. Rehnqvist also mixes Swedish, Finnish and gibberish texts.
Kulning is something I’ve heard a lot during my studies in Sweden and sometimes as a kid, but I’ve never felt predestined to produce those sounds myself. However, after talking to Rehnqvist about it, I contacted the superb Norwegian soprano Berit Norbakken-Solset (which might be the most beautiful surname I’ve ever heard) who is writing her doctorate on how to widen the concept of a classical trained voice – what we as classical singers can actually do with our voices and how we should train young singers, preparing them for a more diverse working market.
Berit gave me a few tips on how a classical voice can produce the sounds of kulning, without raising the larynx.
I’m very interested to see what working with these piece brings me in terms of the extreme hight notes of kulning but maybe even more because of the extreme low notes (H)
The concert takes place in the church St.Egidien, May 16th 19:30
Voice 1 Franziska Zwink
Voice 2 Solgerd Isalv
Percussion Felix Uttenreuther
It is always nice when a colleague recommends you for a concert. More than the honour, one gets access to someone else’s contacts, which is invaluable.
Due to the cooperation with the Vogtland Philharmonie I got to learn about Vogtland; a region connecting Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia and Bohemia (the latter in the Czech Republic). The rehearsal was held in Reichenbach, a cute small town, full of one way streets, to which I hadn’t been before either. While driving my car pool – car, I learned more about the actual distances in Franconia and this part of Germany. I prefer train but the travel times didn’t allow it.
Thankfully the adorable town of execution, Forchheim, is very easily accessible from Nuremberg. AND I did know Forchheim from before.
The piece, which is a more than 2 Hours long choir cantata, from 2011, consists of 39 different German texts from different centuries but to their character are timeless and generally calling for mindfulness – the moment is ours not the past, nor the future. “Der Augenblick ist mein”
It was my first encounter with the composer Peter Schindler‘s music. This cantata is so to speak very easily accessible. A dream come true for any choir conductor fighting to get his or hers choir members to move and smile in concert. For the soloists the approach is rather Kurt Weill than J.S. Bach so to speak. Meaning – the text and the character is everything. I had a lot of fun with my colleagues; baritone Thomas Trolldenier and the conductor Stephanie Spörl.
In Improvisation Theatre the most important thing to keep in mind is to always say yes. To say yes, pick up the energy and the idea from your counterpart(s) and out of that new situation offer something new.
In this spirit I’ve replanned my spring and immediate week many times these past weeks.
The small things; a colleague needing a stand by in the house, would the voice not make it through the three hours of singing after a week in bed. Meaning a great opportunity for me to dust of Isabella in l’Italiana and sing it through with the conductor, but also meaning to but other things aside.
Balancing the most important now against the most important in the long run isn’t always easy.
So did a phone call from the opera in Nuremberg mean to quickly change plans of subletting und cancelling reservations for a long planned for vacation, walking El Camino. I am of course very happy for the possibility to dive into Wagner’s beautiful music again as Wellgunde and climb to get a view of the challenges of the world as the Second Norn.
Many famous people write that they build their careers saying no. But in most cases no isn’t an alternative. If the circumstances are right there is only a yes.
This profession demands a daily shot of flexibility.
On Sunday January the 15th the church Gustav-Adolf-Gedächtniskirche, in Nuremberg, opens it’s doors, as a Vesperkirche, until February 26th. Open for anyone who are looking for a little company or for a cheap lunch. Except the pure social parts of the project a series of charity concerts are being offered within the period.
My colleague Ilker Arcayürek, a lied-specialist, was supposed to hold a recital on the opening but had to cancel yesterday since he is sick. I got asked if I’m prepared to jump in for him together with the Studienleiterin at Staatstheater Nürnberg, Rita Kaufmann – a fantastic lied-pianist. Last minute but who could possibly say no to such an honour?
We’ve decided on a programme with equal parts of Peterson-Berger, Schumann, Rangström and Mahler. I’ll definitely enjoy the possibility to sing lied, which happens way to seldom, in such considerate and appealing circumstances. If you are close by, do join us!
these are the days when many of us sit down and round up the passed year and set our plans for the new year in action. The tax returns need to be prepared for, travels booked, scores bought etc. But maybe most important to take a few minutes and quietly celebrate the victories that one has achieved and learn from what went less good. Life is about improving, if only in a small way – there is always something to learn.
My 2016 was a year with big challenges, a lot of courage and many victories. It was a year of development in every area of my life and a lot of fun. At the same time 2016 was a difficult year emotionally, caused by international and national (political) events which affect me a lot.
For 2017 I wish you, as well as myself, good health, inner peace, love, success and lots of fantastic art, music and creativity. For us all I wish peace, a lot of strength to show (and live) solidarity and courage, and that we who stand for, and believe in freedom and equality in all meanings of the word, may be stronger and louder than those driven by fear and hate.
Professionally I’m taking a new step. In February I’m leaving the safe havens of Staatstheater Nürnberg and spreading my wings as a freelance singer, with exciting contracts, for example with Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Norrlandsoperan, and beautiful music waiting ahead.
Bring it on!
It is hard to know how to deal with the current political and social situation in society, on the global scale as well as an individual on every day basis.
I take comfort and find energy to go on in Bernstein’s words
December has been the jump in-month.
Viruses have been hard on my colleagues and I’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy.
So it came that I had to jump in for myself, so to speak. I had to cover for the guest who was supposed to come in order to sing one of the Rossini/bel canto- matinees.
So I ended up singing two shows on the same day (Rossini and Hänsel) which was what we all had tried to avoid, but I survived that too.
The other day another colleague got sick and I sang two roles the same evening: the Innkeeper and Feodor. The latter from the side.
A profession where the most stabile and competent singer can do nothing when the cold-viruses struck.
It was a bit exciting and sometimes a challenge but it all went well, I had fun and got great support from my colleagues. Am thankful and happy I could help out.
the show must go on
I’ve finally made my Hänsel-debut and I was allowed to do it without a vig!! The ginger mezzo eating the ginger house and getting paid for it. Great stuff. Happy for the possibility to sing my first Hänsel, after finishing my studies, in such a beautiful, intelligent production (in my taste) and with such lovely and well singing colleagues.
More info about the production can be found on the theatre’s homepage
This last Saturday I faced one of my greatest challenges so far technically and musically. A fantastic opportunity to which I couldn’t say no. Brahm’s Alto Rhapsody, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Bernstein’s Jeremiah and Chichester-Psalms – in one concert,a part of the church music festival in Fürth. Music that I’ve dreamed about singing for so long. As an audience member said afterwards, when thanking me, “This concert was as a gift for you”. Yes, it was. But a challenge; Not only to master these incredibly complicated and intricate pieces, each and one alone enough for one evening, mentally and emotionally but also to “survive” vocally.
I’m so thankful for all the support I felt, from colleagues, orchestra members, tweeps and audience members. The applause was different than what I’ve experienced so far. It warmed my heart. I’m proud over the result and over the years of work that made the concert possible. I feel very much at home in that orchestra repertoire.
The local newspaper was very positive too.
Thank you to the very brave conductor Ingeborg Schilffarth for trusting me with such a programme.
This season my current employer, Staatstheater Nürnberg, decided to try a new concept out. They seem to try one out every season. 14/15 it was the concert for school kids – very successful, 15/16 the open house event, Theaterfest -very popular, and this season, a matinee. Bel canto-matinee. Three Sunday’s at 11 o’clock. With the philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Guido Johannes Rumstadt, and soloists from the ensemble.
The main person on stage is Kammerschauspieler Pius Maria Cüppers, in the role as Rossini’s chef. It’ll all be very easy going and funny, I’m sure.
I’ll be singing arias and ensembles by Rossini and Donizetti. A great opportunity for me to broaden my repertoire.
The real opening of the season, the premiere of Boris Godunov (the 1869 version), was a grand success. Even for me with my tiny little part as the Innkeeper. Combine director Peter Konwitschny (set and costumes by Timo Dentler and Okarina Peter) and Russian opera and “everyone” comes. I was honoured with mentions in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine und Opernwelt. Considering that I’m on stage only in one scene and sing about 10 minutes, I’m rather proud. The big praise went, as it should, to my fantastic colleagues Nicolai Karnolsky, Alexey Birkus, David Yim and Tillman Unger.
Boris Godunov remains on the repertoire until December. Conducts does GMD Marcus Bosch
The first performance of the season 16/17
September 20th, 19:30
Solgerd Isalv as Giovanna in Verdi’s Rigoletto at Staatstheater Nürnberg
Direction: Verena Kögler
Conductor: GMD Marcus Bosch
Gilda: Ina Yoshikawa
Rigoletto: Mikolaj Zalasinski
Duca: David Yim
I’m very happy to be part of yet another season at the State Theatre Nuremberg, Staatstheater Nürnberg.
After the summer vacation, the Spielzeitpause, the rehearsals start without any soft introductory warm up. A greeting from the top floor and then directly on to coachings and stage rehearsals.
The revival of Rigoletto takes place Sept. 20 (Giovanna)
the Theaterfest, a form of Open House- event which was very nice indeed last year, takes place Sept. 24 and I’m singing Rossini with the “mitmachorchester”
The big opening of the season takes place a bit later, Oct 1st, with Boris Gudonov conducted by Marcus Bosch and directed by Peter Konwitschny – I’m very much looking forward to singing the Innkeeper in that setting.
This ist going to be a very fun and eventful season indeed with some dream roles and absolutely fantastic concert opportunities.
I’ll keep you posted!
The programme book for the upcoming season at State theatre Nuremberg was presented yesterday.
Solgerd Isalv will remain at the theatre as a part of the ensemble, singing the roles of Giovanna – Rigoletto, the Innkeeper – Boris Godunov and Hänsel – Hänsel und Gretel
The rehearsals for Verdi’s opera Rigoletto has started at Staatstheater Nürnberg. Solgerd Isalv is singing Giovanna, while studying Maddalena, her last production as part of the Young Artist Programme in the house.
Rigoletto: Mikolaj Zalasinski/ Antonio Yang
Herzog von Mantua: David Yim.
Gilda: Michaela Maria Mayer/ Ina Yoshikawa
The team, director Verena Stoiber and set/costume designer Sophia Schneider, won the important Ring Award in 2014.
The premiere takes place May 29th 2016
The performance of Mendelssohn’s St Paul was a great success. The big church was filled to the brim, with standing ovations.
Conductor: Matthias Ank
“Solgerd Isalv (Alt) gibt wohltönend im Stimmtimbre “Und zog mit einer Schar gen Damaskus”. /…/ Alles in allem: Die Klarheit und klugen Proportionen von Matthias Anks souveränem Dirigat sprechen für eine Partitur, die das übersehen-werden wohl kaum verdient hat” Egon Bezold, Nürnberger Zeitung April 25th
“Mit dem prophetischen, bekräftigenden Alt-Arioso “Doch der Herr vergisst der Seinen nicht” machte Solgerd Isalv vom Opernstudio auf sich aufmerksam: Mit fein schattiertem Timbre als wandlungsfähiger Mezzosopran” /…/ “Nacht&Licht” heißt denn auch das Jahresmotto, in das sich die gelungene Lorenzer Premiere bestens einfügte” Anja Barckhausen, Nürnberger Nachrichten April 25th
The April “revival” of Pinocchio will include two performances in the beautiful baroque theatre Markgrafentheater in Erlangen.
Curiosity; The film about Farinelli, the famous castrato, was filmed in Markgrafentheater.
It is fantastic with my profession that there is always a learning process going on, always something new to discover.
Recently I’ve started to study my first pieces composed in Hebrew. I find languages and their influence on singing and sound very interesting. And when one truly aims to understand and learn to sing a language one often meet the most interesting and generous people.
The pieces I’m currently studying have similarly put me in contact with interesting teachers at Erlangen University and fantastic members of the jewish community in Nuremberg.
When the concert date is coming up I definitively have to invite them all.
Today the children’s/family opera Pinocchio (G.Rossini, arrangements by S Bächli, Libretto Eule/Weßler) has premiere in the Kammerspiel at Staatstheater Nürnberg.
Starring Solgerd Isalv as Pinocchio and Vikrant Subramanian as his father, Gepetto.
More information here
“Solgerd Isalv als 2.Norn und Wellgunde fällt durch einen schöne großen Mezzo auf” Thomas Kümmel
We are already facing our fourth performance of Schmiedleitner/Bosch’s Götterdämmerung in Nürnberg,
I’m singing my first Figaro for the season tomorrow and Pinocchio and Fledermaus are about to be premiered and revived the upcoming week. Time flies as the autumn leaves outside my window.
I have a lot on my hands right now, that’s for sure, and lovely tasks indeed.
A Ring always gets a lot of attention of course and in between rehearsals we’ve had the pleasure of reading quite a few, mainly very positive, reviews of Götterdämmerung. Also the audience seems to get through the five hours good tempered and have so far showed us great appreciation.
Thank you, all, colleagues and audience alike – I truly enjoy myself.
For my performance of Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at Staatstheater Nürnberg I got nominated as “beste Nachwuchssängerin des Jahres” (Best upcoming female singer of the year)!
The State Theatre of Nuremberg, Staatstheater Nürnberg got many nominations as well as some other members of the cast. More info here
It’s an honour to be mentioned in such circumstances and work at such a progressive theatre!
I’m on my way to Milan for a shooting, an unexpected and last minute casting. It will surely be a lot of fun.
AND I’ve just got and uploaded some recordings made with the brilliant pianist Jonas Olsson. On the media page one can find two songs from Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten by Arnold Schönberg and the first song from Abendlicher Reigen by Art-Oliver Simon which I and Jonas premiered in 2013.
The theatre season in Nuremberg ended yesterday with the piano dress of Götterdämmerung.
It has been a full on spring with a lot of fantastic music and challenges.
The first months of the next season will be, if possible, even more intense than the last months this season. Götterdämmerung will open the season, closely followed by the revivals of Figaro and Fledermaus and the premiere of the children’s opera Pinocchio
I’m glad to be able to write that I am singing some very interesting concerts in between too. Opening my very private season, mid September, is a recital with the musical assistent from Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Gary Gromis. I am very much looking forward to our work with the German-Scandinavian from the later part of the 19th century. A programme which I partly will present at the International Chamber Music Festival in Nuremberg as a part of the series “Eine gute halbe Stunde” (a good half hour) together with Neil Valenta.
Two other concerts later during the year which I particularly looking forward too are the alternative reading of Bach’s Christmas Oratory in St. Lorenz in Nuremberg as well as the world premiere of “Hulda” by Dorothea Hoffman in Biblische Bilder, the final concert of the 52. Fürther Kirchenmusiktage.
Time to take a few weeks off and recharge.
Staatstheater Nürnberg is providing a 30 minutes entertainment program at the summer party in the park surrounding the castle in Erlangen; Schlossgartenfest
Around 6500 guests are expected to dance through the summer night.
Solgerd Isalv, mezzo
Gunta Cese, soprano
Kurt Schober, baritone
Andreas Paetzold, piano
Johann Casimir Eule, moderation
The two children’s concerts, on May 12th, with the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg and the singers in the Young Artist Programme at Staatstheater Nürnberg, turned out to be a huge success. A loud but active audience and very positive feedback from different teachers afterwards!
Educational projects at their best
The rehearsals of the Konwitschny-production La traviata, at the State Opera Nuremberg, are in full swing. The sold-out revival takes place 26.3.2015 19:30
It’s a successful coproduction between the opera in Graz and the English National Opera in London, for the fourth time played in Nuremberg ( photos here)
The opera is slightly shortened and played without an intermission.
Solgerd Isalv is to be seen as Flora Bervoix
Today the members of the Young Artists Programme in Nuremberg had a meeting with the composer in residence Régis Campo.
We all sang something for him so he could get an impression of our voices and then we had an informative and relaxed chat. I got a very positive impression of him. He has chosen poems by Christian Morgenstern (our Studienleiter impressed us all by reciting a few by heart) and claims to want to write funny, creative songs for our recital in June. “Songs that will make kids laugh and get interested”.
So, parents, bring your kids to our recital 21.6 11:00!
Read about Régis Campo’s thoughts about his opera Quai West
La fedeltà premiata is being rehearsed with a double cast, to give more students from the University the possibility to participate, and it’s an interesting process to see how different persons do the very same things so similarly differently. In this case it makes the rehearsal process rather slow, but it is fascinating to watch the process(es) in the room and it was a long time ago I had the possibility to influence a character and her presence on stage so much. With one or two exceptions I’ve only sung revivals the past few years (which is an art in itself). I’m enjoying it greatly.
From next week on we’ll be rehearsing in the legendary baroque theatre Markgrafentheater. Though I doubt it can compete with Drottningholmstheatern (a dream workplace) I’m very much looking forward to that stage, except for the commute -our rehearsal stage right now is rather cramped.
Unfortunately the tickets haven’t sold very well yet so it looks as if we’ll only do two shows. One per cast. 6,5 rehearsal week for one show. A new experience. I have mixed feelings about that one. But Celia is worth it.
After a December loaded with concerts and concert repertoire the first months of 2015 are all production oriented. The rehearsals of La fedeltà premiata runs parallell with the last shows of Zauberflöte, musical rehearsals of Traviata and my own preparations for the productions coming later in spring. And in midst all of it, mix in a big gala concert on main stage.
Grate fresh auditions over just before serving.
Enjoy with a big cup of good quality tea.
(and forget the two call a day rule)
Don’t ask me how it happened but until very few months ago Haydn was a composer I associated to my violin playing days. Of course I knew a few art songs (some scary memories from my pre-university years) and that he had written a few operas, but I had never had the opportunity to actually look into one of these operas.
So when the chance arose, of course I took it. Here in Germany the universities are good at performing (Haydn and Schubert) operas and operettas no one outside the German borders has ever heard of.
I got offered a part in the University production of La fedeltà premiata. It’s an opera that reminds me partly of La finta giardiniera (written about 6 years earlier) as far as roles and structure are concerned. It’s written 1781, about the same time as Mozart’s Idomeneo but different from the Mozart’s operas it actually presents a female part for a mezzo/alto – not a second soprano in a trouser part.
I don’t have much preparation time, my loved ones will have to stand me working over the christmas holidays, but I’m very much looking forward to discover this music together with conductor Guido Johannes Rumstadt and the director Joachim Rathke
This summer I made role debut with the third lady in the Magic Flute, W A Mozart, in a revival. Open air and on tour. Quite a challenge but fun and with wonderful colleagues.
Arriving in Nuremberg in autumn the musical rehearsals started for the Magic Flute, this time role debut as the second Lady. Also this time a revival.
During the short rehearsal period for the production in Nuremberg I both blessed and cursed the fact that I’d already done so many performances as the third lady. On one hand I know the piece inside out, on the other hand how often I started to sing my colleagues’ lines… She, a brilliant and inspiring artist, was thankfully relaxed enough to laugh about it. It can get rather annoying when someone sings your lines…
But I managed to sort my brain out both considering text and the rather choreographed direction just in time for the revival and we have some great fun on stage.
Some photos from the production are to be seen here
After spending all my professional years so far as freelance I’m gratefully and happily enjoying the benefits of being part of a institutional theatre.
There are such wonderful things as a library and coaches with different specialities that one actually can get to work with (as a part of ones own work, that is, for free!!) if they have time AND there is a repertoire, decided by someone else, that one can delve into while learning from more experienced colleagues.
So I’m spending my time freshing up my Hänsel while finally having that extra motivation to learn the fantastic part of Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust, Berlioz.
The stage rehearsals for the revival of Meyerbeer’s les Huguenots have been going on for the past three days. And I have both met the chorus, the orchestra and put my feet on the City Theatre of Nurembergs main stage, all for the first time and all at once.
I’m loving it!
The revival takes place Oct 14th.