Gregor Tassie in conversation with soprano Ayla Dobreva

Sofia Opera’s Woodbird Ayla Dobreva talks to Gregor Tassie

Ayla Dobreva

Apart from the stupendous production standards, a great deal of the acclaim for the 2023 Plamen Kartaloff Ring cycle was for the singers in the roles of Wotan, Brünnhilde and Hagen, but the coloratura soprano Ayla Dobreva as the Woodbird provided one of the most striking performances in Siegfried. Dobreva performed in all four operas of the cycle; firstly, as Woglinde in the opening scene of Das Rheingold singing when soaring on a trampoline, in Die Walküre, she was Helmwige mounted on one of eight red horses of the Valkyries, and finally challenging Alberich in the closing scene in Götterdämmerung. She was also one of the Flower Maidens in Parsifal, but it was her spectacular entry on a trapeze that made the biggest impression of all.

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Robert Beattie in conversation with pianist Sandro Russo

Italian pianist Sandro Russo talks to Robert Beattie

Sandro Russo © Jiyang Chen

Chetham’s Music School in central Manchester run an International Piano Summer School every year for pianists of varying levels of ability including talented students, teachers and adult amateur pianists. As an enthusiastic amateur pianist, I decided to enrol on the course myself earlier this year. There were many distinguished professional pianists on the course teaching students and giving masterclasses. In the evening a number of the teachers gave concerts in Chetham’s Stoller Hall. It was amazing to hear such a wide and varied range of demanding repertoire being performed to such a high level.

I was struck by one concert, in particular, by the Italian pianist, Sandro Russo. Sandro performed all twelve of Liszt’s Transcendental Études and his performance was deservedly greeted with a standing ovation.

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Geoffrey Newman in conversation with conductor Gerard Schwarz

American conductor Gerard Schwarz talks to Geoffrey Newman

Gerard Schwarz

The career of conductor Gerard Schwarz stretches over five very productive decades. He currently serves as Music Director of the Palm Beach Symphony, the Mozart Orchestra of New York and the Eastern Music Festival. He also heads a distinguished All-Star Orchestra for educational concerts designed for public television. He is Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Emeritus of the Mostly Mozart Festival and Distinguished Professor at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, where he also conducts the university orchestra.

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Gregor Tassie in conversation with mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova

The Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova talks to Gregor Tassie

Gergana Rusekova

Among the outstanding performances of the 2023 Wagner Festival in Sofia were those of the Brünnhilde in Die Walkure and the Kundry in Parsifal given by the young mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova. In my review of Die Walküre, I wrote, ‘Immediately, we are aware of the striking vocal gifts and personality of Gergana Rusekova, ‘Vater! Vater! Sage, was ist dir?’ And a couple of weeks later, in Parsifal, she was even more impressive, ‘The Kundry of Gergana Rusekova was world-class in both singing and characterisation – every word was clear and beautiful at times when revealing her plight and in other scenes of her lustful desire.’

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Fully restored CALLAS – PARIS, 1958 is exclusively in cinemas during November and December

Celebrating Maria Callas’s Centenary, her historical performance is fully restored for the first time in colour exclusively for the big screen

Released in the UK and Ireland 11-12 November 2023
CLICK HERE for all global release dates


Director and Producer – Tom Volf
Production and Restoration – Samuel Francois-Steininger
International Distribution – Piece of Magic Entertainment
Runtime – 90 minutes

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Christian Thielemann to become new General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Christian Thielemann to succeed Daniel Barenboim at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Christian Thielemann © Matthias Creutziger

At its meeting today, the Board of Trustees of the Berlin Opera Foundation approved the contract with Christian Thielemann as General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden from September 1, 2024. Thielemann succeeds Daniel Barenboim, who is an honorary citizen of Berlin.

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