Sir John Eliot Gardiner is a grand seigneur of early music, although his wide repertoire extends well into the 19th and 20th centuries, with more than 250 award-winning CD recordings. Although he already directed choirs as a teenager, he first completed a degree in Arabic studies and history. Then he conducted a performance of Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers, which he organized with friends: “That was a crazy idea. I knew almost nothing. I had to make my own edition. Luckily I had help. A few professional musicians encouraged me and said: You must study music!” Gardiner did that, with the legendary Nadia Boulanger in Paris, among others. After his studies, he founded several period music ensembles, which have earned international acclaim under his direction: the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Gardiner, who conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time during the Berliner Festspiele in September 1997, is a regular guest with the world’s leading symphony orchestras. He served as artistic director of the Göttingen Handel Festival and chief conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted opera productions at the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna Staatsoper and La Scala in Milan. From 1983 to 1988, he was music director of the Opéra National de Lyon, where he founded a new orchestra that is now one of the best in France.
Lucy Crowe has a precise tonal concept for every note and is endowed with tremendous vocal flexibility as well as an impressive range of tonal colours and articulation. It is not surprising that the soprano, who was born in Staffordshire, England, collaborates with a who’s who of the international music scene – Gustavo Dudamel, Emmanuelle Haïm, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and many others. The singer completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and initially made a name for herself in the early music field. Her repertoire ranges from Purcell, Handel and Mozart to such roles as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Lucy Crowe has appeared at the Royal Opera House in London, the Bavarian Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She says of her roots in early music, “When you have learned to sing without vibrato, you can use this stylistic device in other areas as well. Not to mention the rhythmic precision demanded in Baroque music.” She appears frequently at festivals in New York, Aldeburgh and Salzburg and gives recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Lucy Crowe was heard with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time in October 2017 in the title role of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.
“I love discovering new things!” says the Swedish singer Ann Hallenberg. The best example of her enthusiasm for discovery is an award-winning album entitled Agrippina: highlights of Baroque opera with no less than twelve first recordings. “I have the great advantage of being married to a musicologist. The CD is a family project, since my husband chose the works and edited them on the computer. Music that probably no one has heard in the past 300 years resounds through our house again and again. That’s fantastic!” Ann Hallenberg studied at the National College of Operatic Art in Stockholm and worked closely with Alan Curtis, an expert on historical performance practice. With her mellow, flexible mezzo-soprano she thrills audiences at prestigious opera houses and international festivals in operas by Monteverdi, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Gluck, Rossini, Bizet and Massenet. She appears frequently in concerts throughout Europe and North America with repertoire ranging from Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été, L’Enfance du Christ and La Damnation de Faust to Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Lied von der Erde, Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius to Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Ninth Symphony. Her discography comprises more than 45 CDs and DVDs, with music by Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner and many other composers.
Werner Güra already realized in the Regensburger Domspatzen (boys’ choir), where he “was caught up in the wake of musical life”, that his voice was ideally suited to oratorio. “If you had no problems in school, you could learn endlessly there. That was great!” Today the acclaimed lied singer is one of the best Schubert interpreters of our time and is highly regarded both as a Mozart tenor and as the Evangelist in Bach’s oratorios. The Munich native acquired his love for music at home: his father played the tuba in the Bavarian State Orchestra and first introduced him to the world of Wagner’s operas. Güra studied voice in Salzburg, Basel, Amsterdam and Vienna. After guest appearances in Frankfurt and Basel, in 1995 he became a member of the ensemble at Dresden’s Semperoper, where he sang the major Mozart and Rossini roles for tenor. Daniel Barenboim invited him to appear in several productions at Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where he gave brilliant performances in his highly acclaimed Mozart roles of Tamino, Ferrando and Don Ottavio, which he also sang at many other important opera houses. Güra collaborates with leading orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, with whom he made his debut in 1999. The lyric tenor has taught voice at the Zurich University of the Arts since 2009.