Born in Kronach (Upper Frankonia), AXEL KOBER completed his conducting studies at the University of Music in Würzburg. First steps of his career were for example the Oper Leipzig (MD between 2007 and 2009 and assistant GMD) and the Nationaltheater Mannheim (principal Kapellmeister since 2003, since 2005/2006 temporary GMD). In Leipzig he also regularly conducted symphony concerts of the Gewandhaus orchestra. Guest performances during this time for example led him to the Staatstheater Nürnberg, the Wiener Volksoper, the Royal Opera Copenhagen, the Philharmonische Orchester Halle as well as to the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg. Since 2009 he has been principal conductor and GMD of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. With Tannhäuser, he guested at the Bayreuther Festspiele for the first time in 2013. In 2014 he was invited once again for Tannhäuser as well as for the Fliegende Holländer (as of 2015). Further guest conductings led him to the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Parsifal, Tannhäuser), the Hamburgische Staatsoper (La traviata, Ariadne auf Naxos, Carmen), the Theater Basel (Parsifal, Lohengrin). In 2014/2015, Axel Kober made his debut at the Opéra National du Rhin (Tristan und Isolde), in 2015/2016 he debuted at the Semperoper Dresden (Elektra) and at the Opernhaus Zürich (Fliegender Holländer).
Since his debuts in Glyndebourne, at the Opera North and at the English National Opera, CHRISTOPHER VENTRIS is amongst the leading tenors of his fach. In recent years, he focused his career on Wagner roles such as Parsifal, Siegmund, Lohengrin and Erik. He for example debuted very successfully at the Bayreuther Festspiele as Parsifal and enthralled the audience with that same role under the direction of Bernard Haitink at the Zurich Opera, under the direction of Christian Thielemann at the Wiener Staatsoper, with Kent Nagano at the Bayerische Staatsoper, with Lorin Maazel in Valencia, as well as at the Nederlandse Opera, the ROH Covent Garden, in Paris, in San Francisco, Seattle and Barcelona. Other important recent engagements include Erik in San Francisco, Max at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at La Scala in Milan, Sergei (Lady Mabeth von Mzensk) in Geneva, Brussels, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam and London. He debuted as Števa at the New York Met, as Tannhäuser at the Paris Opera. Furthermore, he sang the title role in Palestrina (Munich) and Dmitri in Boris Godunow (London). Apart from Parsifal, he also sang Siegmund and Jim Mahoney (Mahagonny) at the Wiener Staatsoper.
Tomasz Konieczy was born in 1972 in Lodz/Poland. At the Film Academy there, he studied acting as well as singing in Warsaw and Dresden. In 1997, he gave his debut in Poznan as Figaro (Nozze di Figaro), two years later in Leipzig, and in 2000/2001 he changed to the Lubecker Theatre. During this time he was committed to St. Gallen, Halle, Chemnitz and Mannheim. From 2002/2003, he became an ensemble member in Mannheim. In 2005, he gave his debut at the Deutschen Oper in Rhein. Further engagements include performances in the Scala, at the Paris Opera, the Semperoper, the Teatro Real, Warsaw, the Bayerischen Staatsoper, Tokyo, Berlin and the Salzburger Festspiele. His roles include among others: Kezal, Orest, Procida, Ramfis, Wotan Wanderer, Pizarro, Großinquisitor, Jochanaan, Osmin, Golaud, Sarastro, Mandryka, Amfortas, Alberich, Pimen, Marke, Colline, Melitone and Wozzeck. In 2008, he gave his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper as Alberich and also sang here since then Fra Melitone, Alberich (kompletter Ring), Amfortas, Goldhändler, Jochanaan, Wotan, Wanderer, Mandryka, Jack Rance, Don Pizarro and Dreieinigkeitsmoses.
Soprano Martina Serafin was born in Vienna and studied at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien. Between 1995 and 2000 she was member of the ensemble of the Grazer Oper. Guest appearances soon led her to the world´s most renowned opera stages, for example to La Scala in Milan, to the ROH Covent Garden, the Semperoper, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the San Francisco Opera, as well as to music centres such as Munich, Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Berlin, Tokyo, Monte Carlo and Rome as well as to the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago and to the Festival di Santa Cecilia. Martina Serafin´s most important roles for example include Feldmarschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), Lisa (Pique Dame), Elsa (Lohengrin), Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Maddalena (Andrea Chenier), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) as well as the title role in Puccini´s Tosca. Current and future appearances lead her to the New York Met, La Scala, to Paris, Berlin and London. She made her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2005 as Donna Elvira and has since then sung Marschallin, Lisa, Tosca and Sieglinde.
The Mezzosoprano Stephanie Houtzeel recieved her „Master of Music“ from the Juilliard School in New York and is a prizewinner of several competitions. She has been in leading roles in the Opéra National de Paris, the Zurich Opera, the Semperoper, the Washington Kennedy Centre, the New York City Opera, the Theater an der Wien, the Opéra de Lyon, the Opéra National du Rhin, the Royal Danish Opera, the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, the New Israeli Opera, the Graz Opera and at the Salzburg Festival. Since the 2010/2011 season, she is an ensemble member of the Wiener Staatsoper, where she has been seen singing the roles of Komponist, Octavian, Dorabella, Siébel, Varvara, Nicklausse, Kreusa, Orlofsky and Jenny Hill. Aside from the big Strauss and Mozart roles of her vocal range, her repertoire includes among others, Charlotte, Gluck’s Orfeo, Händel’s Ariodante, Ottavia, Valencienne or Amando in Grand Macabre. Future performances are leading the Mezzosoprano among others to Graz (Leading Role in Xerxes), to the Komische Oper Berlin and to the Bayreuther Festivals. In 2015, her new CD Nostalgia will be released.
IRÉNE THEORIN is a regular guest at the world´s most significant opera houses. After her debut as Brünnhilde in Copenhagen, she for example guested in London, Beijing, Budapest, Berlin and Dresden and made her US debut with this role in 2009 at the New York Met as well as in Washington. In 2010, Tokyo followed. In the season 2012/2013 she was Brünnhilde in the Barenboim-Ring at the Staatsoper Berlin and La Scala, at the Wagner Festival in Budapest and in Barcelona. In 2005 she made her debut as Turandot in Copenhagen. Appearances as Brünnhilde followed in Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Guanzghou, Dresden and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, at the Met and the Bayerische Staatsoper. In 2006 she sang Isolde for the first time in Brussels, after that in Rotterdam, Washington, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Berlin. Between 2008 and 2012 she sang Isolde at the Bayreuther Festspiele. In 2007 and 2008 she performed Elisabetta (Don Carlo), Tosca and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) in Copenhagen. Her debut as Santuzza followed in 2012. In 2010 she debuted as Elektra at the Salzburger Festspiele, a role she also interpreted at the Paris Opera. She presented herself to the Viennese public at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2011 as Venus.
Roles at the Wiener Staatsoper 2014/2015: Venus, Isolde.
SOPHIE KOCH studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris and won first prize in Holland's prestigious Hertogenbosch Competition. She celebrated her first major successes at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London (in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Così fan tutte) and at the Semperoper in Dresden (in Ariadne auf Naxos). Further performances soon took her to the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Vienna, Berlin, Milan, Paris, Toulouse, Brussels, Madrid, Geneva, as well as to the Salzburg Festival. Her current roles include Marie (Dialogues des Carmélites) in Nice, The Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos), Waltraute (Twilight of the Gods) and Venus (Tannhäuser) in Paris, Charlotte (Werther) in Madrid and London, and the title role in Mignon in Geneva. Sophie Koch has also achieved international success with lieder and as a concert performer. She made her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1999 as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. Her other roles in Vienna have included The Composer, Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Nicklausse (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Charlotte and Silla (Palestrina).
The mezzo-soprano Monika Bohinec studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. As a student, she was a finalist and award winner of different competitions and a scholarship holder of the Richard Wagner Foundation and the Hilde Zadek Foundation.
In 2006, she made her debut as Clarissa in Die Liebe zu den drei Orangen at the Slovenian State Opera, where she appeared as Jezibaba in Rusalka, Konchakowna (Fürst Igor), Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and in the title role of Carmen.
In 2009 Monika Bohinec became ensemble member of the Mannheim National Theatre, where she sang Carmen, Sara di Nottingham (Roberto Devereux), Laura and Cieca (La Gioconda), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Giulietta (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) and Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera).
In the season 2011/2012 Monika Bohinec became ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera where she sang e.g. Larina, Grimgerde, Marthe, Farzana, Schenkenwirtin, Lola, Mary, Marcellina, Fenena, Ulrica, Suzuki, Margret, Madelon and Erste Norn.
Mezzo-soprano Ulrike Helzel was born in Magdeburg and completed her vocal arts studies at the University of Music in Leipzig. She was member of the ensemble at the Deutsche Oper Berlin for many years, where she sang Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Fuchs in Das schlaue Füchslein, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, Siébel in Gounod´s Faust, Orpheus in Orpheus und Euridice and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.
Since autumn 2012 she is member of the ensemble at the Wiener Staatsoper. Since 2006 she appears as a guest at the Bayreuther Festspiele, first as Wellgunde in the Ring and since 2008 as Blumenmädchen and Knappe in Parsifal. Ulrike Helzel has appeared as a guest for example at the Theater Basel, the Komische Oper, the Semperoper (title role Carmen), the Nationaltheater Weimar, the Opernhaus Halle, the Opéra de Lyon, the Opéra La Monnaie Brüssel, the Bayerische Staatsoper München, the Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, at the Festival de Canarias, at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele.
She made her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2011 and sang Wellgunde (Rheingold, Götterdämmerung), Zweite Norn (Götterdämmerung), Siegrune (Walküre) here.
OLGA BEZSMERTNA completed her studies at the Kiev Academy of Music in Ukraine in 2010. She was among the finalists of the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna in 2010 and 2011. During her debut singing competition in Germany in 2008, she was awarded the first prize as well as the Public prize and the Puccini Prize. In 2007 she had an engagement at the Oper Oder-Spree Festival. In 2006, she received an award at the International Rimsky-Korsakow Singing Competition in St. Petersburg. Furthermore, the soprano received the first prize at the international singing competition of the Bertelsmann Trust. In 2011, she took part in the Young Singers Projects at the Salzburger Festspiele. Her repertoire includes, among others, Contessa d’Almaviva, Pamina, Donna Elvira, Fiordiligi, Micaëla, Marguerite, Nedda, Marfa (Die Zarenbraut) and Tatjana. She is an emsemble member of the Wiener Staatsoper, where she gave her debut in 2012 and sang among others: Dame (Cardillac), Pamina, 3. Norn, Contessa d’Almaviva and Rosalinde. Current performances include her debut at the Deutschen Oper Berlin and at the Salzburger Festpiele.
Act 1 Completely exhausted whilst trying to escape from his pursuers, Siegmund the Wälsung reaches Hunding’s hut. Sieglinde, Hunding’s wife, shelters the hero and gives him something to drink. When Hunding returns home, Siegmund tells him of a life filled with tragedy. Hunding soon realizes that the man before him is the one he had set out to kill. Bound by the laws of hospitality, he puts off his fight with the unarmed Siegmund until the next morning. Sieglinde gives her husband a sleeping potion, and helps Siegmund to obtain an enchanted sword which a mysterious stranger once drove into the trunk of an ash tree. A passionate love develops between Siegmund and Sieglinde, who realizes that they are twin brother and sister, and that their incestuous, adulterous love is in contravention of the laws of hospitality. Act 2 The mysterious stranger was Wotan, the chief God and guardian of all pledges. He once fathers the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde by their mortal mother. He now resolves to send the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – a daughter from his marriage to the goddess Erda – to the scene of the fight to give Siegmund victory in his combat with Hundung. However, Wotan’s wife Fricka intervenes: surely the lord of all pledges cannot tolerate such unlawfulness as adultery and incest? Wotan sees his hopes dashed that a hero may one day win back the Ring of the Nibelung. Against his own wishes, he orders the Valkyrie Brünnhilde to kill Siegmund. Brünnhilde tells Siegmund of his impending death, but promises him a glorious entry into Valhalla. Siegmund declines when he leanes that Sieglinde cannot follow him there. Brünnhilde, touched by his love, disobeys Wotan’s order and fights for Siegmund. Wotan is forced to kill Siegmund himself. Act 3 Brünnhilde then rescues Sieglinde, who is heavy with child. Sieglinde and Siegmund’s son will bear the name Siegfried, and Brünnhilde gives him his father’s sword, shattered in the struggle with Hundung and Wotan. Furious with his recalcitrant Valkyrie, Wotan takes away her divinity and condemns her to become the wife of the first man she encounters. Finally, he relents and changes his verdict to the bravest man she encounters. He surrounds the sleeping woman with a wall of fire that only the bravest man will be able to penetrate to awaken Brünnhilde again.