Photos of the evening here  

Bryn Terfel | Angela Gheorghiu | Rolando Villazón | Duet/Backstage

The curtain is raised on the line up for Faenol Festival’s seventh opera gala: Bryn Terfel, Angela Gheorghiu and Rolando Villazón

The curtain has been raised on this year’s Faenol Festival opera gala to reveal a stunning line up of opera super stars. Joining bass-baritone Bryn Terfel on the stage of this seventh Faenol Festival will be internationally acclaimed soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Rolando Villazón – hailed as the next ‘tenor superstar’.

The world of opera comes to the Faenol stage on Saturday 26 August, and, as always Bryn Terfel will lead the evening of favourite opera and classical masterpieces and introduce to the Faenol audience some of the world’s finest performers

Mexican born Rolando Villazón, fresh from debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and Covent Garden has been hailed as the new ‘tenor superstar’. His second solo recording won the Gramophone 2005 recital award, and his newly released Opera Recital recording of Tenor arias by Puccini, Bizet, Verdi, Strauss and Tchaikovsky is already receiving great reviews and looks to be collecting some awards later this year. Currently performing the role of Lensky in Covent Garden’s production of Eugene Onegin, he is enjoying overwhelming critical acclaim, and tipped to be one of the great Tenor stars of the 21st Century.

Angela Gheorghiu’s place in the opera hall of fame has already been secured. She is one of the world’s leading sopranos and a familiar face on opera stages and concert platforms across the globe. Her magnificent voice and dazzling stage presence have established her as a unique international opera star. She made her international debut in 1992 at Covent Garden with La Bohème and made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera New York and in the Staatsoper Vienna the same year. Since then, she has been a favourite of opera audiences worldwide both for her stunning voice and inspiring performances. She is also renowned as a recording artist – receiving particular acclaim for her performances in recordings of La Traviata and La Boheme and for her recital recordings Casta Diva and her latest CD, a recital of Puccini arias released earlier this year.

On this year’s opera gala line up, Bryn Terfel commented “I feel honoured that yet again this year, some of the world’s best – and busiest artistes have agreed to come to perform at Faenol. I had a wonderful time performing with Angela Gheorghiu in Faust at Covent Garden last year and I’ll be working with her again in Tosca – again at the Royal Opera House - in June She is a beautiful singer and an electrifying performer and is sure to cast a spell on the Festival audience. The Faenol will provide the first opportunity for Rolando and I to share a stage. He’s a magnificent young singer and is certainly a rising star - in years to come, I guarantee that you’ll be proud to say that you saw him here first!”

Angela Gheorghiu - Biography

Angela Gheorghiu was born in Adjud, Romania, and graduated from the Bucharest Music Academy. She studied with the wonderful teacher Mia Barbu. Her magnificent voice and dazzling stage presence have established her as a unique international opera star. She made her international debut in 1992 at Covent Garden with La Bohème. She made her debut in the Metropolitan Opera New York and in the Staatsoper Vienna in the same year. It was in Covent Garden that she first sang her much acclaimed La Traviata in 1994, when the BBC cleared out its schedules to broadcast the opera.  The performance was also filmed and recorded by Decca. Since then Ms Gheorghiu has been in constant demand in opera houses and concert halls around the world: New York, London, Paris, Salzburg, Berlin, Tokyo, Rome, Seoul, Venice, Athens, Monte-Carlo, Chicago, Philadelphia, Sao Paolo, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Valencia, Palermo, Balbeck, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur, Zürich, Vienna, Madrid, Montreal.

Her first exclusive recording contract was signed 1995 with Decca for whom she made several recordings and videos / DVDs: La Traviata with the Orchestra of the ROH Covent Garden, L’elisir d’amore with the Orchestra of Opera de Lyon, La Bohème with the Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro Scala di Milano and the recitals Arias with the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, Verdi Heroines with the Orchestra Filarmonica “Giuseppe Verdi” di Milano, My World and Mysterium  with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Her next exclusive recording agreement was signed in 1998 with EMI Classics. She first recorded an album of Duets and Arias with Roberto Alagna and the Orchestra of the ROH Covent Garden, then she recorded Puccinis’s rarely recorded opera La Rondine  with the London Symphony Orchestra, Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette with the Orchestra Capitol du Toulouse and a second album of duets with Roberto Alagna, Verdi per due with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Other EMI recordings are: Gianni Schicchi  from Il Trittico, Massenet’s Werther with the London Symphony Orchestra, Massenet’s Manon with the Symphonic Orchestra de la Monnaie Bruxelles, Verdi’s Il Trovatore with the London Symphony Orchestra and Bizet’s Carmen with the Orchestra Capitol du Toulouse. Her recital Casta Diva was followed by a live recording of her concert with the Staatskapelle Dresden Classics on a Summer’s Evening on CD and DVD, by the Verdi Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and by her 2001 ROH Covent Garden recital, both on CD and DVD. Her latest CD is a recital of Puccini arias, which has been released this year. Also her concert for Queen Beatrix’ Jubilee in Amsterdam this year was released on CD and DVD.

All her CDs have received widespread critical acclaim and have been awarded many prizes such as Gramophone Awards, Diapason d’Or Awards, Choc du Monde de la Musique in France, Cecilia Prize in Belgium, Deutsche Schallplattenkritik-Preis in Germany, the Echo Award, the Italian Musica e dischi  Foreign Lyric Production Award, the USA Critics’ Award etc. At the Classical Brit Award in 2001 she won the title of ‘Female Artist of the Year’.

In December 2000 Ms Gheorghiu started filming Tosca. The film was released in cinemas around the world: “She is one of the most sensuous Toscas imaginable… Angela Gheorghiu’s passion and beauty are ideal for Tosca, as if the best qualities of Callas’ and Tebaldi’s portrayals had come together.” ( Opera News, USA ).

Ms. Gheorghiu interpreted Juliette in the movie Romeo et Juliette for Online Classics on DVD and sang at the historic performance at the Proms at the Palace on June 1 to mark the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, also available on DVD.

Among major appearances in the last three years were the much acclaimed performances of La Rondine and Pagliacci  in the ROH Covent Garden, performances of Romeo et Juliette  at the Choregies d’Orange and at the Festival of Salzburg, performances of Faust at the MET in New York, in a new production at the ROH Covent Garden, performances of Simon Boccanegra at the ROH Covent Garden and major recitals in Seoul in South Korea, in Athens, in the Vatican and at the Salzburg Festival, in Rotterdam and Bruxelles.

The year 2005 has started with performances of Faust at the Monte Carlo Opera, of Bohème in the ROH Covent Garden and in Orange and concerts in Vienna (Musikverein) and Amsterdam (Queen Beatrix Jubilee Gala) and has continued with performances of Pagliacci in Los Angeles and with an Opera Gala at the MET (opening of the season). Various concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as well as a concert with the New York Philharmonic and a concert with the Philadelphia Orcehstra have followed. In January this year she was performing La Traviata at the MET with huge success. In  April she will sing a recital in Teatro alla Scala in Milano, in June she will make her stage debut in Tosca at the ROH Covent Garden in London. Performances of  Faust (Covent Garden) and La Bohème (Wiener Staatsoper) will follow, as well as concerts in Germany and in Ireland (Dublin).

In future, she will also appear in Lucia di Lammermoor, Adriana Lecouvreur, Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Lucrezia Borgia, Alceste, Don Carlos and Don Giovanni.

Ms. Gheorghiu was honoured with “La Medaille Vermeille de la Ville de Paris”, and she was appointed an “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” and a “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by the French Ministry of Culture and by her native country Romania.

Rolando Villazón – Biography

Rolando Villazón was born in Mexico City in 1972. At the tender age of eleven he joined the Espacious Academy of Performing Arts and shone as a multi-talented artist, excelling in music, acting, contemporary dance and ballet. However, it was in 1990 that the direction of his career became clear when he met the baritone, Arturo Nieto, who introduced him to the world of opera and subsequently became his voice teacher. With such inspiration Villazón's natural talent flourished at a phenomenal rate and after only two years he entered the National Conservatory of Music to continue his vocal preparation with Enriqu Jaso. After winning two national competitions in Mexico City and Guanajuato, Villazón became a student of the notable baritone, Gabriel Mijares, with whom he continued his studies before launching his international career.

In 1998, he entered the San Francisco Opera's prestigious Merola Opera Program where he participated in master classes with Joan Sutherland and performed the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. This outstanding performance led to him becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Opera's Young Artists Program, appearing in productions of I Capuleti e Montecchi, Lucia Lammermoor and Samuel Barber's Vanessa. Thus, it will come as no surprise to learn that in 1999, Mr Villazón won Prize of the Public, the Zarzuela Prize and second prize overall in Placido Domingo's Operalia competition.

After making his successful European debut as Des Grieux in Manon in Genoa in 1999, he has continued to be in high demand, astonishing audiences across America and Europe with his stunning performances at the following venues: Hamburg State Opera, Lyon Opera, Rome Opera, Bregnez Festival, Antibes Festival, Munich State Opera, Berlin Deutsche Oper and Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Brussels La Monnaie, Los Angeles Opera, Orange Festival and Los Angeles Opera.

It was perhaps during last season, which began with his Metropolitan Opera debut in La Traviata opposite Renée Fleming, that Villazón achieved the highest critical acclaim and enthusiastic public recognition. This was followed by his breathtaking role debut in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, which was greeted with one of the biggest ovations Covent Garden has ever witnessed. In this same season he made his sensational debut in Amsterdam in a new production of Don Carlo.

His first solo recording was released by Virgin Classics in early 2004, featuring awe-inspiring Italian arias from works by Donizetti to Cilea. His second disc of Gounod/Massenet arias reached the top position on the classical music charts in Europe and the US. It also earned him his first well-deserved Gramophone Awards for Recital Disc of the Year.

Present and forthcoming Covent Garden performances include exciting new productions of Eugene Onegin, L’elisir d’amore, Don Carlo and Manon. He received critical acclaim performing opposite Anna Netrebko in La Traviata in Salzburg and Romeo and Juliette in Los Angeles. He will next return to the City of Angels in La Traviata with Renée Fleming and will perform again with Netrebko in Manon. His travels will also take him to Paris where he will perform in Les Contes d’Hoffman and Werther and to Vienna for Romeo and Juliette and Rigoletto.

Villazón’s unquestionable talent has been acknowledged worldwide. Michael Storrs Music presented his Asian debut in September 2005 with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Tokyo Opera City where he was greeted with standing ovations.

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