Vesselina Kasarova was born in Stara Zagora (Bulgaria) and began playing the piano at the age of four. After her concert diploma she studied singing with Ressa Koleva at the Music Academy of Sofia and already as a student she performed in major roles at the National Opera there.
After completing her studies in 1989, a two-year fixed contract led her to the Zurich Opera House, where she quickly became a public favourite and was celebrated by international experts as a great discovery.
In the same year she also won first prize at the German singing competition "Neue Stimmen" in Gütersloh.
In the Mozart Year 1991 Vesselina Kasarova made her debut at the Salzburg Festival with two matinées in the Mozarteum (Betulia liberata KV 118) and as Annio in the revival of La clemenza di Tito conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Further roles at the Salzburg Festival were Tancredi, Ombra felice, Zerlina, Farnace, Sesto and Marguerite (La damnation de Faust). In the autumn of the same year Vesselina Kasarova made her highly acclaimed debut at the Vienna State Opera as Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) under Donald Runnicles.
With roles of Mozart (Cherubino, Idamante, Sesto, Dorabella) and Rossini (Rosina, Tancredi, Isabella, Angelina) as well as Romeo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Giovanna Seymour (Anna Bolena), Charlotte (Werther) and others. She has also appeared at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Zurich Opera House, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian State Opera Munich, Opéra National de Paris (Bastille, Garnier), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, in Amsterdam as well as at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro.
She worked with conductors such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Colin Davis, Pinchas Steinberg, Donald Runnicles, Seji Ozawa, Semyon Bychkov, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti, Marcello Viotti, Alberto Zedda, Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Roger Norrington, Eve Queler, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Ivor Bolton and Friedrich Haider.
Recitals and concerts have taken Vesselina Kasarova to Munich, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Vienna, Dresden, La Scala Milan, Wigmore Hall London, Carnegie Hall New York, Schubertiade Feldkirch and the Festival de la Musique Montreux-Vevey.
Vesselina Kasarova has recorded many CDs for RCA Red Seal, which have received numerous awards.
Among the most compelling singing actresses of our time, the admired black American soprano, Roberta Alexander, enjoys international renown for her riveting, incisive characterizations, miraculous vocal and dramatic range. She was reared in a musical family. She studied at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1969 to 1971, receiving M. Music in 1971, and with Herman Woltman at the Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague.
Roberta Alexander appeared as Pamina at the Houston Grand Opera in 1980, as Daphne in Santa Fe in 1981, and as Elettra in Idomeneo in Zürich in 1982. Following a tour of Europe, she made a successful debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Zerlina in November 1983. Among the operatic heroines she has unforgettably portrayed are the title role of Janacek's Jenufa (a Glyndebourne production), Mimì in Puccini's La Bohème, and especially the great Mozart heroines: Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Vitellia in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, the latter a major success with both the public and the press at the Glyndebourne Festival. In addition she has performed principal roles at New York's Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House/Covent Garden, and the major Houses of Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Zurich and Venice. In January 1999, Roberta Alexander sang concert performances of Jenufa, Act 2 with Sir Simon Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra, in Philadelphia and at New York's Carnegie Hall. Other recent North American highlights includes a Washington, D.C. recital on the distinguished Vocal Arts Society series and Britten's War Requiem with the Utah Symphony under its Music Director Keith Lockhart, both receiving rapturous critical acclaim.
Equally esteemed as an orchestral soloist, Roberta Alexander recently enjoyed particular success performing Ravel's Shéhérazade with André Previn and the NDR Sinfonieorchester, telecast throughout Europe. She has also performed with the Vienna, London and Royal Philharmonics; Royal Concertgebouw, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Bavarian Radio Orchestras; Cincinnati, Atlanta and Dallas Symphonies; and collaborated with such distinguished conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andrew Litton, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Edo De Waart and David Zinman. She recently reunited with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream and Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet and the rapturously-received world premiere of Kirchner's Of things exactly as they are. In addition she sang Copland's In the Beginning with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony.
An uncommonly communicative recitalist, Roberta Alexander has offered acclaimed programs at New York's Carnegie Recital Hall, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Vienna Musikverein, London's Wigmore Hall and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. An especially ardent and persuasive interpreter of American masterworks, her latest recordings include Songs My Mother Taught Me and With You (the latter an anthology of Broadway songs).
Roberta Alexander's voluminous discography on the Etcetera, Philips, Sony, Teldec and BMG reflects her astonishing mastery of varied vocal styles: songs by Barber, Mozart, Bernstein, Ives, Copland, Strauss, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Puccini and Villa-Lobos; Handel's Giulio Cesare, Apollo e Daphne, Samson and Theodora; Mozart's Don Giovanni and Idomeneo; and such rarities as Goldschmidt's Der Gewaltige Hahnrei and Beatrice Cenci, Heppener's Four Songs of Ezra Pound and an Edison-winning recording of Andriessen's Songs with Orchestra.
Dutch baritone Thomas Oliemans has established himself in recent years as a singer of outstanding musicality and intelligence combined with a compelling stage presence who is at home on the big opera stages as well as in the major concert venues and festivals around the world.
In repertoire that spans from Mozart to Strauss, he has appeared on the stages of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Mr. Redburn/Billy Budd, Schaunard/La Bohème), Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (Bill/Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Papageno/Die Zauberflöte, Hercule/Alceste), English National Opera ( Figaro/Le nozze di Figaro, Papageno/Die Zauberflöte), Teatro Real Madrid (Mr. Redburn/Billy Budd, Silvio de Nardi/Bomarzo, Hercule/Alceste), Göteborg Opera (Il Conte di Almaviva/Le nozze di Figaro, Hamlet/Hamlet), Salzburger Festspiele (Gonsalvo Fieschi/Die Gezeichneten), Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse (Lescaut/Manon Lescaut, Papageno/Die Zauberflöte), Opéra National du Rhin Eisenstein/Die Fledermaus, Harlequin/Ariadne auf Naxos, Marcello/La Bohème) and Grand Théâtre de Genève (Guglielmo/Cosi fan tutte, Donner/Das Rheingold).
A regular guest at Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, he has appeared there as Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Papageno in Simon McBurney's production of Die Zauberflöte (which earned him their Prix d’Amis) Lescaut in Manon Lescaut as well as in productions of La Bohème, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg/Kothner, Hänsel und Gretel/Peter, Un ballo in maschera, Castor et Pollux as well as several leading roles in world premieres amongst others. He works regularly with directors such as Deborah Warner, Simon McBurney, Pierre Audi, Christof Loy, Robert Carsen and Ivo van Hove.
Thomas Oliemans regularly collaborates with conducters such as Ivor Bolton, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Raphael Pichon, Marc Albrecht, Hartmut Haenchen, Antonello Manacorda, Jaap van Zweden, James Gaffigan and Vassily Petrenko and with orchestras like the Rotterdam Philhamonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonieorchester Basel, the Freiburger Barockorchester, the Ensemble Pygmalion and Amsterdam Sinfonietta.
His vast concert repertoire includes Bach’s Passions, Shostakovich’s Michelangelo-Suite and Symphony no 14, Gustav Mahler‘s Das Lied von der Erde, all his orchestral song cycles as well as his 8th Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elias, Richard Danielpour’s Elegies, Beethoven‘s Symphony no 9, Zemlinsky’s Lyrische Sinfonie, Larcher’s Alle Tage and Frank Martin’s Jedermann-Monologe.
A sought-after recitalist, he appears with pianists Malcolm Martineau, Roger Vignoles, Graham Johnson and Paolo Giacometti, amongst others, in Oxford, Cambridge, Vienna, Zürich, Basel, Antwerp, London (Wigmore Hall), Schloss Elmau, Tokyo and Paris. A regular guest at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, he presented together with Malcolm Martineau the three Schubert song-cycles there within the course of a week, as well as recitals wholly dedicated to Wolf and to Schumann. He curated the 2019 Delft Chamber Music Festival and was on the Jury of the 2019 International Vocal Competition s’Hertogenbosch, where he also appeared in recital with Graham Johnson.
His extensive discography includes Schubert’s three song cycles, Mendelssohn’s Elias with the Akamus Berlin and the RIAS Kammerchor under Hans-Georg Rademann, works by Frank Martin for baritone with Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Christus in Bach’s Johannes-Passion with the Orchestra of the 18th Century and Frans Brüggen and Shostakovich’s 14th Symphony with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Gordan Nikolic.
Highlights in 2020 include Beethoven’s Symphony no 9 with the Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra under Ivor Bolton, Bach’s Matthäus-Passion, conducted by Peter Dijkstra, and Straus’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, both with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Bill in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny in a production by Ivo van Hove at Dutch National Opera conducted by Markus Stenz, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Het Residentie Orkest and his house and role debut as Stolzius in Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann at Oper Köln.
Pianist Hans Eijsackers studied with Gérard van Blerk, Jan Wijn and György Sebök. In 1992 he graduated with distinction from the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. After that he was invited to study at the European Mozart Academy in Kraków. This resulted in performances in Europe, Southeast Asia and New York. Hans won several music awards. Twice he received the 'Zilveren Vriendenkrans' of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
Hans is a regular guest at various festivals and from 2007 to 2010 he was artistic director of the "Uitgast Festival", a musical summer open-air event in the Nature Park in Lelystad. In recent years he has been featured in the solo programmes "Homage" and "Bella Italia". Hans has worked with Otto Tausk, Neeme Järvi, Gordan Nicolic and Yannick Nézet-Seguin, among others.
Since 2013 Hans has been appointed Professor Liedgestaltung at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. He also teaches chamber music at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and is artistic director of the International Student LiedDuo Competition in Groningen. He also frequently performs as a soloist, chamber musician and Lied accompanist.
Hans Eijsackers has been a competition pianist with the IVC many times and was a member of the international jury of the IVC LiedDuo Competition in 2016.
Jan-Paul Grijpink studied at the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam, where he specialised in Lied accompaniment and opera. He followed master classes with Rudolf Jansen, Roger Vignoles, Helmut Deutsch and Boris Berman. Immediately after his studies he worked at the then Opera Studio Netherlands and at Dutch Touring Opera.
He won various prizes, including the prize for best interpretation of the Schubert art song, at the competition 'Schubert und die Musik der Moderne' in Graz. For the label 'Etcetera' he recorded the CD 'Monologue' together with baritone Florian Just. This was praised by both the national and international press.
He performed with Maarten Engeltjes, Thomas Oliemans, Karin Strobos, Henk Neven, Tania Kross and many others.
Jan-Paul is part of the musical staff of Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. There he has worked in numerous productions with conductors such as Marc Albrecht, Carlo Rizzi, Maurizio Benini, Daniele Gatti, Sir Mark Elder, Antonello Manacorda, Reinbert de Leeuw and many others. He is also répétiteur and coach at Dutch National Opera Studio.