Frankfurt OperaTalk

Because of the continuing risk of infection from the coronavirus, I have reluctantly decided not to hold my VHS courses Opern-Gespräche and Frankfurt OperaTalk in the autumn semester 2020. At my request, the VHS has already deleted both courses from the autumn program.

In the event that the Corona situation should improve in the next few months (which I don’t believe, but I don’t want to give up hope too soon), we have left the course planning for the spring semester 2021 unchanged for the time being. Under these plans, the Opern-Gespräche would begin on February 22, 2021, and Frankfurt OperaTalk a week later on March 1st. I will inform you in good time whether the courses can really take place in the spring semester.

To prevent any misunderstandings, I would like to add that I myself am completely healthy. Because of my age, I theoretically belong to a high-risk group, but I have no previous illnesses worth mentioning and I take care not to expose myself to unnecessary sources of infection.

I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in my VHS opera courses over the past 21 years (since autumn 1999). I have very much enjoyed running the courses, and I haven’t given up hope that we might be able to resume the courses in 2021.

In March 2020, the 27th semester of Frankfurt OperaTalk was interrupted after only two meetings, when all courses were suspended in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. All remaining sessions in the spring semester of 2020 have been cancelled.

I would like to thank our two most recent guests from the world of opera, tenor Neil Shicoff and baritone Christopher Maltman, for coming and talking with us this semester. Each of these outstanding singers spent an entire evening answering our questions and providing insights from their long careers on the international opera circuit.

At Frankfurt OperaTalk, English-speaking opera fans meet at the Volkshochschule (VHS), the city’s non-profit adult education center, to get acquainted with each other and with the lively Frankfurt opera scene. Native and non-native speakers of English are cordially invited to enroll. The discussions are friendly and unpretentious, and you don’t have to be an opera expert to take part.

Jens Joneleit, Composer

Full disclosure: Since I am the teacher of this course, I might be somewhat biased, but I do think it’s a great way to meet English-speaking opera fans (and opera professionals) in Frankfurt. This is why I go on teaching Frankfurt OperaTalk, even though it is more work than any of my other courses and brings in the least money.

I’ve been teaching this course since 2002 (and a similar course in German since 1999). We have so far had a hundred and seven different English-speaking guests from the world of opera (some of whom have come more than once over the years):

Želiko Lučić, Baritone

  • Pia-Marie Nilsson, Soprano
  • Paul Morris, Violinist
  • Katrin Hilbe, Stage director
  • Kent Carlson, Tenor
  • Cynthia Szymkowicz, Soprano
  • Rosamund Gilmore, Stage director
  • Karen Kamensek, Conductor
  • Miah Persson, Soprano
  • Ann-Marie Backlund, Soprano
  • Michael McCown, Tenor
  • Peter Marsh, Tenor
  • Richard Morschel, Bassoonist
  • Yves Saelens, Tenor
  • Jenny Carlstedt, Mezzo-Soprano
  • James McNamara, Stage director
  • Louise Giedraitis, Cellist
  • Magnus Baldvinsson, Bass
  • David Tasa, Trumpet player
  • Gioacchino Lauro Li Vigni, Tenor
  • Carla Cunningham, Supernumerary aka extra-player
  • Corinna Schmitz, Cellist

    Simon Bailey, Bass-Baritone

  • Maria Fontosh, Soprano
  • Shawn Mathey, Tenor
  • Mark S. Doss, Bass-Baritone
  • Diane Pilcher, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Dawn Rivard, Make-up artist
  • Erik Nielsen, Conductor
  • Gregory Frank, Bass
  • William Cochran, Tenor
  • Andrew Richards, Tenor
  • Anna Ryberg, Soprano
  • Nick Deutsch, Oboist
  • Simon Bailey, Bass-Baritone
  • Danielle Halbwachs, Soprano
  • Hope Briggs, Soprano
  • Caroline Whisnant, Soprano
  • John Treleaven, Tenor

    With Nathanial Webster, Baritone, at Frankfurt OperaTalk

  • Nathaniel Webster, Baritone
  • Želiko Lučić, Baritone
  • Angus Wood, Tenor
  • Betsy Horne, Mezzo-Soprano (now Soprano)
  • Jud Perry, Tenor (now Counter-Tenor)
  • Jean-Marc Vogt, Violist

    Russell Thomas, Tenor

  • Sharon Kempton, Soprano
  • Jussi Myllys, Tenor
  • Malin Aldener, Soprano
  • Janet Collins, Contralto
  • Jens Joneleit, Composer
  • Richard Cox, Tenor
  • Brenda Rae, Soprano
  • Yuval Zorn, Conductor
  • Christine Graham, Soprano
  • Beau Gibson, Tenor
  • Paula Murrihy, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Michael Clark, Chorus Director
  • Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Sir John Tomlinson, Bass
  • André Weiss, Chorus Director in Darmstadt
  • Sharon Carty, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Leah Frey-Rabine, Soprano and voice teacher
  • Francisco Brito, Tenor
  • Vuyani Mlinde, Bass
  • Meredith Arwady, Contralto
  • Caterina Panti Liberovici, Stage director
  • Karen Vuong, Soprano
  • Jessica Strong, Soprano
  • Iurii Samoilov, Baritone
  • Elza van den Heever, Soprano
  • Heidi Melton, Soprano
  • Elizabeth Reiter, Soprano

Juanita Lascarro (right) with course participants

  • Juanita Lascarro, Soprano
  • Mario Chang, Tenor
  • Thomas Faulkner, Bass-Baritone
  • Eric Cutler, Tenor
  • Russell Thomas, Tenor
  • Michael Porter, Tenor
  • Freya Ritts-Kirby, Violinist
  • Julia Dawson, Mezzo-Soprano

    Julia Dawson, Mezzo-Soprano, with course participants at Frankfurt OperaTalk

  • Theo Lebow, Tenor
  • Cecelia Hall, Mezzo-Soprano
  • AJ Glueckert, Tenor
  • Daniel Miroslaw, Bass
  • Anne Larlee, Rehearsal pianist
  • Brandon Cedel, Bass-Bariton
  • Elizabeth Sutphen, Soprano
  • Sydney Mancasola, Soprano
  • Angela Vallone, Soprano
  • Emilia Gausse, Violinist
  • Jonathan Beyer, Baritone
  • Alexander Prior, Conductor and Composer
  • Brian Mulligan, Baritone
  • Gal Fefferman, Dancer and stage manager
  • Marta Herman, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Barnaby Rea, Bass
  • Kirsten MacKinnon, Soprano
  • Michael Petruccelli, Tenor
  • Mikolaj Trabka, Baritone
  • Michelle Bradley, Soprano
  • Zanda Svede, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Mario Antonio Marra, Rehearsal pianist
  • Jennifer Holloway, Soprano
  • Bozidar Smiljanic, Bass-Baritone
  • Ambur Braid, Soprano
  • Kelsey Lauritano, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Nina Brazier, Stage director
  • Neil Shicoff, Tenor
  • Christopher Maltman, Baritone

Frankfurt OperaTalk takes place in the Volkshochschule, Sonnemannstraße 13, across the street from Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory and across the intersection from the European Central Bank (ECB).

ECB and VHS, 2013

This is what the new ECB building looked like in 2013, when construction was nearing completion. I took this photo from Paul-Arnsberg-Platz. The five-storey building on the right is the Volkshochschule (VHS).

See also: my course Opern-Gespräche in German.

2 thoughts on “Frankfurt OperaTalk”

  1. Those courses about upcoming productions make such difference to the enjoyment and understanding of the operas. I used to belong to such a group in Gothenburg and meeting the actors/singers brought the whole story to life and the music too.

    England now shows original shows in various cinemas across the country and they also involve talks by the singers before the show.

    Thank you for this informative article

    1. Thanks for your nice comment. Yes, for us it’s really great to get to know the singers and musicians, especially since the Frankfurt Opera has a strong ensemble with lots of English, American and Canadian singers.

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