A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO

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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.

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ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE

Interview with Arabella Steinbacher

Arabella Steinbacher (c) Sammy Hart

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.

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A Q&A WITH SOPRANO LISETTE OROPESA

Lisette Oropesa (c) Steven Harris

A highlight of this season for soprano Lisette Oropesa was her Royal Opera debut as Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) at Covent Garden. She will soon be making a role debut as Euridice in the French version of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with Los Angeles Opera, in a new production opening on the 10 March, directed and choreographed by John Neumeier, and conducted by James Conlon. In advance of these performances in Los Angeles, Lisette Oropesa answers Seen and Heard International’s questions about this current role, as well as, looking back on her life and her career.

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A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ

Andrea Carè © Juan Carranza

The Italian tenor Andrea Carè has recently appeared at the Teatro Real in Madrid – in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Puccini) and Bizet’s Carmen – and at the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia – in Verdi’s Don Carlo alongside Plácido Domingo – and he returns to Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House (February 16, 27 and March 8, 12, 16) in the role of Don José in Carmen, a role he first performed there in 2015. He has previously said: ‘In spite of the brutality and intolerance of what Don José does, I still believe that in reality he is a pure man who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a passionate man, as many of us are, but he does not have the luck or intelligence to realise that Carmen represents a danger to his own life, his heart and his mental stability. I believe that, however mistakenly and violently he behaves, there is a Don José in every one of us, constantly struggling not to fall into the abyss of insanity’.

In advance of these performances at Covent Garden Andrea Carè answers Seen and Heard International’s questions about this current role, as well as, looking back on his life and his career.

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BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN

Barry Douglas discusses – amongst other things – his career, composers, interpretation, recordings, masterclasses, chamber music, competitions, and his annual Clandeboye Festival

Barry Douglas © Katya Kraynova

Winner of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 1986, Barry Douglas has toured the world for the last three decades, bringing distinction and splendour to the wide range of concertos he plays, and taking on innumerable institutional responsibilities as well. That is to be expected from any major competition-winner, but perhaps closest to the artist’s heart is the founding of his orchestra, the Camerata Ireland, and overseeing his annual Clandeboye Festival, both of which serve as a meeting place for Irish artists in general and young Irish musicians in particular.

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OMER MEIR WELLBER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON

Michael Cookson Meets Omer Meir Wellber

Earlier this year during a reporting trip to Munich I was fortunate to secure an interview with charismatic and hardworking conductor Omer Meir Wellber whose burgeoning career has taken him to the world’s greatest opera houses and working with the finest orchestras.

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THE PIANIST VALENTINA LISITSA IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE

AN INTERVIEW WITH VALENTINA LISITSA

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Valentina Lisitsa (c) Sam Jones

The Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa has achieved the accolade of becoming the world’s most popular classical artist since her first YouTube recital in 2007. By leading the way to finding new audiences with sensational success, Lisitsa has gained a staggering 95 million views and almost 200,000 subscribers on YouTube.

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