Frankfurt OperaTalk

For over two decades, I taught opera appreciation courses in German and English at the Volkshochschule Frankfurt (VHS), the city’s adult education center. I started the German-language Opern-Gespräche in 1999, and added the English-language Frankfurt OperaTalk in 2002.

Both these courses were still going strong in March 2020, when they were abruptly ended by the lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the risk of infection still persists, I have reluctantly decided not to resume teaching any of my VHS courses. At my request, the VHS has already deleted the courses from its program.

At Frankfurt OperaTalk, English-speaking opera fans met at the VHS to get acquainted with each other and with the lively Frankfurt opera scene. Native and non-native speakers of English were equally welcomed. The discussions were friendly and unpretentious, and you didn’t have to be an opera expert to take part. At most of the meetings, an English-speaking singer or musician (or composer or stage director or other opera professional) was on hand to answer questions about current opera productions and about life on the international opera circuit.

From 2002 to 2020 we had a hundred and seven different English-speaking guests from the world of opera (some of whom came 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

    Jens Joneleit, Composer

  • Barnaby Rea, Bass
  • Kirsten MacKinnon, Soprano
  • Michael Petruccelli, Tenor
  • Mikolaj Trabka, Baritone
  • Michelle Bradley, Soprano
  • Zanda Švēde, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Mario Antonio Marra, Rehearsal pianist
  • Jennifer Holloway, Soprano
  • Božidar Smiljanić, Bass-Baritone
  • Ambur Braid, Soprano
  • Kelsey Lauritano, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Nina Brazier, Stage director
  • Neil Shicoff, Tenor
  • Christopher Maltman, Baritone

Frankfurt OperaTalk was held at 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.

I appreciate your feedback!

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