When he was eleven, Daniel Barenboim saw Edwin Fischer conducting from the piano and realized immediately: “That’s exactly what I want to do!” And that is how the young virtuoso pianist, who had already appeared publicly in his native city of Buenos Aires at the age of eight, embarked on a career as a conductor – as the youngest member of Igor Markevich’s conducting class. Daniel Barenboim made his conducting debut in 1967, and in the years that followed he took on key positions with the Orchestre de Paris, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at Milan’s La Scala before becoming artistic director and general music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in 1992. Together with the Palestinian-American literary scholar Edward Said, he founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which more than any other ensemble stands for tolerance and international understanding. In 2015 he established the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin, which supports outstanding young musicians from the Middle East. Since his debut as a soloist in 1964 and his first conducting appearance in 1969, Barenboim has enjoyed a long artistic partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker, who made him an honorary member of the orchestra in 1992 and honorary conductor in 2019: “Already as a child, the Berliner Philharmoniker were a model for me of how an orchestra could and should sound. Their unmistakable sound overwhelmed me even then.”
“A competition,” says Elena Stikhina, “is a complicated thing, since you don’t know what to expect. It’s a lottery in which you need a lot of luck. Everything counts: the repertoire, the voice, good preparation.” The young Russian soprano has already received many awards – for instance, at the start of her career in 2016, during Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition, which was also the stepping stone to an international career for Sonya Yoncheva and Rolando Villazón. Elena Stikhina completed her studies at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory; after her first appearances at the New Primorsky Stage in Vladivostok, she became a guest soloist at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Following acclaimed debuts at the Paris Opéra, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Salzburg Festival, she reached the pinnacle of her field with her luminous voice and endless legato, in roles such as Salome, Tosca, Mimì (La Bohème), Leonora (La forza del destino), Senta (Der fliegende Holländer), Renata (The Fiery Angel) and Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) as well as the great bel canto roles: “Bel canto is the traditional style, typical of Verdi, for which you need proper breath support,” says the singer. Elena Stikhina appears regularly at the Staatsoper in Munich and Berlin, the Semperoper in Dresden and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden as well as in concerts with leading international symphony orchestras.
Anita Rachvelishvili, according to the New York Times, “the best Verdi mezzo-soprano today on the planet”, was discovered at the opera studio of Milan’s La Scala by none other than Daniel Barenboim. She enjoyed a sensational success at her spectacular debut in the role of Carmen on the opening night of the La Scala season in 2009, which was conducted by Barenboim and broadcast worldwide, making the young Georgian singer one of the most sought-after mezzo-sopranos overnight. Other debuts soon followed, at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Bavarian Staatsoper, Dresden’s Semperoper, the Staatsoper in Berlin, the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Teatro Regio in Turin and the Arena in Verona, after which Anita Rachvelishvili was acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major event: “Her mezzo is a hurricane,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote. In 2019 the singer made her debut in Francesco Cilea’s prima donna opera Adriana Lecouvreur at the Salzburg Festival, where she was “on an equal footing with Anna Netrebko vocally”(Salzburger Nachrichten). Anita Rachvelishvili studied piano and voice at the Vano-Sarajishvili Conservatory in her native city of Tbilisi before becoming an ensemble member at the opera house there. Today she enjoys tremendous successes at leading opera houses and on international concert stages with her dark, dramatic mezzo-soprano.
He thrilled the great tenor Carlo Bergonzi with his voice and studied with the legendary Franco Corelli: Fabio Sartori, who was born in Treviso, Italy, and after completing his studies made his debut in 1996 as Rodolfo (La Bohème) at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. With his wonderfully brilliant, precisely placed tenor voice, he appeared in the role of Macduff (Macbeth) the following year at the season opening of La Scala in Milan, conducted by Riccardo Muti. During that season he also sang in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem under Muti in Milan and at the season openings of the opera houses in Venice and Bologna. The singer enjoyed great successes during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth in 2013, appearing in productions of the two-act opera Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio at La Scala, performances of Aida at the Arena in Verona and Don Carlo in Zurich and Milan. Since then, Fabio Sartori has been a guest at leading opera houses throughout the world, where his repertoire includes the roles of Radamès (Aida), Jacopo Foscari (I due Foscari), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Riccardo (Oberto), Foresto (Attila), the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), Pollione (Norma) and Canio (Pagliacci). With his naturally flowing voice, Fabio Sartori is also a sought-after guest at concert halls throughout the world, where he has collaborated with such renowned conductors as Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Daniele Gatti, Zubin Mehta and Gianandrea Noseda.
René Pape has “one of the world’s most beautiful bass voices” (Gramophone). Known as the “Black Diamond Bass” (New York Times), he is equally acclaimed at New York’s Met, in London, Vienna and Berlin. He received his musical training in the Dresdner Kreuzchor (boys’ choir) and the Carl Maria von Weber University of Music in Dresden. His international operatic career began after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the youngest Sarastro ever at the Salzburg Festival in 1991. Three years later, Wolfgang Wagner engaged him to appear at Bayreuth, where the now acclaimed Wagner singer made his debut as Fasolt (Das Rheingold). René Pape is a long-standing ensemble member at Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where he has been heard in such important bass roles as Méphistophélès (Faust), Philip II (Don Carlo), Rocco (Fidelio), Gurnemanz (Parsifal), King Henry (Lohengrin) and King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) as well as in new productions of Le nozze di Figaro, Eugene Onegin and Don Giovanni. In 2006 the singer added the title role of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov to his repertoire, enjoying great success: “Mr. Pape has vocal charisma as well, and his dark, penetrating voice is ideal for the role” (New York Times). The singer also thrills listeners on the concert stage, with powerful lows and delicate highs that have “a baritonal smoothness” (Los Angeles Times).