What do you understand by the word ‘history’? This simple question, but one which will inevitably prompt multifarious and complex responses, was the origin of the title of Richard Causton’s new orchestral work, Ik zeg: NU (which translates from Dutch as ‘I say: NOW’), which was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and will be premiered by the orchestra and their chief conductor Sakari Oramo at the Barbican Hall later this month.
Michael Cookson interviews Ádám Fischer
Sitting in the conductor room at the famous Semperoper, Dresden last May I interviewed conductor Ádám Fischer. In an hour’s time he would be conducting a compelling performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio directed Keith Warner (click here). I couldn’t help but contemplate on the many famous conductors who had been in the room over the years since the Semperoper’s reconstruction in 1985.
Robert Beattie interviews Simon Mechliński
The Wexford Opera Festival is famous for introducing rare, neglected and new works to the public. It also provides a forum for young performers to make their mark on the world. One such performer at this year’s Festival was 25-year-old Polish baritone, Simon Mechliński, who performed in Mercandante’s Il bravo (click here) and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (click here).
Gregor Tassie Interviews Elim Chan
The young Chinese conductor Elim Chan has enjoyed a highly successful career since she won her breakthrough competition at the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition roughly four years ago and which immediately gave her the opportunity of working as an assistant conductor at the London Symphony Orchestra. In London she had the opportunity of being mentored by Valery Gergiev (who invited her to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in St Petersburg), Michael Tilson-Thomas and Sir Antonio Pappano. In 2017 she was appointed chief conductor at Norrlandsoperan in Umea, Sweden, and principal guest conductor at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at the beginning of 2018, she was appointed chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra from the 2019-2020 season. In a short period, Chan has worked with some of the best orchestras worldwide, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
To admirers of great singing Petra Lang needs little introduction because of her superb performances on the world’s leading opera stages and concert platforms. In recent years, especially, she has brought the audiences at the annual Bayreuth Festival to their feet to acclaim her wonderful portrayals of Ortrud (review click here) and Isolde (review click here). Seen and Heard was delighted when Petra Lang agreed to answer our questions to look back – amongst much else – at how she began as a singer, who gave her advice along the way, a singer’s life, her thoughts on the roles she has sung and the colleagues she has worked with, as well as, her own advice for young singers.
Franco Vassallo is an acclaimed interpreter of leading Verdi roles – amongst many others – in the world’s most important opera houses (including Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Opéra de Paris, London’s Royal Opera House and New York’s Metropolitan Opera). He has just sung Scarpia for the first time in Puccini’s Tosca at the Staatsoper Hamburg in the Robert Carsen production and performed with Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann.
Interview with Arabella Steinbacher
When I spoke with Arabella Steinbacher, she was half way through a tour with the Orchestre National de Lille in Southern France playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and conductor Mark Shanahan. The bitterly cold weather allowed the German violinist some extra time in her hotel to speak with me about her early career and her inspirations for what has been a busy calling embracing the standard classical repertoire and explorations of less known 20th century repertoire.
Laurence Equilbey on La Seine Musicale, Insula Orchestra
and Female Composers