About the Guests

Obviously, this podcast would not be possible without the help of many gracious colleagues, and I'll try to give you a broad range of opinions from professionals who are in the beginning of their careers to those who have been working for several decades. Here you can find out a little more about them.

This week's guest:

French tenor Gilles Ragon has sung leading opera roles throughout Europe, in every style from Baroque to Wagner to modern music. A former student of Nicolai Gedda, Gilles has over 50 recordings in his discography, including most recently the complete Debussy Mélodies in 2014. He spent many years on a fest contract in Stuttgart, and is currently Artistic Director of the Nantes Vocal and Instrumental Ensemble.


Guests in alphabetical order:

Áris Argíris, Greek baritone, was awarded the prize of "Best young artist of the year" from the theater and opera critics in Greece in 2007. He has gone on to a world-wide career in places such as Hamburg, Stockholm, Berlin, London, San Diego, Buenos Aires, St. Petersburg, Vienna and the Semperoper in Dresden.

Pablo Assante studied piano at the conservatory in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and conducting at the Argentinean Catholic University and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Since 2001 he has served as Chorus Master at the opera houses in Frankfurt, Saarbrücken and Chemnitz, and has worked with the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He is currently the Chorus Master at the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany.

Stephanie Atanasov, mezzo-soprano, was born in Vienna, Austria, and studied at the University for Music and Performance Art there. She has won many competitions, including "Prima la Musica" in Austria, and has performed at the Salzburg Festspiel, Opéra National de Montpellier, Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf), Bremen Opera and the Semperoper, where she was also in the Junges Ensemble (Young Artist Program). She is currently fest at the Staatsoper in Berlin.

Soprano Karen Bandelow grew up in Hamburg, Germany. She studied voice at the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart and went on to perform with the Stuttgart Staatsoper as part of their Junge Oper series. She has performed concerts and recitals throughout Germany and Eastern Europe as well as Japan, and has been recorded on the Naxos label. Currently performing in "We Come to the River" at  the Semperoper in Dresden, she also maintains a growing vocal studio in Düsseldorf.

Tanja Baumgartner, a mezzo-soprano and a native of southern Germany, is under fest contract with Oper Frankfurt and has sung with the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, Theater Basel, Wiener Kammeroper and Opéra de Marseille. She has also performed in the past summers at the Salzburger Festspiel, and this season she will be appear at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf) and the Staatsoper Berlin, as well as in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strasbourg.

Conductor Matteo Beltrami is a native of Milan. He studied violin in Genoa and conducting at the conservatory in Milan. He has conducted throughout Europe and Russia, including the Staatsoper in Stuttgart, the Semperoper in Dresden and the Hermitage Orchestra in St. Petersburg, and in 2008 conducted La Cenerentola at Spoletto in Charleston. He also teaches at the conservatory in Potenza and has judged several vocal competitions.

Giorgio Berrugi was born in Pisa, Italy, and began his musical career very as a very successful clarinetist. In 2007 he began his career as a tenor, and has sung throughout Italy, Austria, Switzerland, as well as in London, Budapest and Isreal. He is currently on a fest contract with the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany.

Olivier Bettens studied medicine as well as singing and acting, but has made a specialty of historic French diction throughout the Middle Ages and Baroque periods. Best known for his website, Chantez-vous francais?, he has also published numerous articles on the connection between text and music. Olivier regularly gives lectures and master classes throughout French-speaking Europe.

José Bros, a native of Barcelona, Spain, is one of the leading bel canto tenors of our time. He has performed in many of the leading opera houses in the world, including La Scala, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and Teatro Real in Madrid, as well as in Hamburg, Rome, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Washington, Berlin and Amsterdam among many others. He has won many awards for his performances over the years and has an extensive discography of bel canto operas and Zarzuelas as well as DVDs.

Stephanie Woodling Bucher is an American Mezzo-Soprano who has been working in Germany for the past several years. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, and has sung with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, as well as Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Baltimore Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center.

Javier Camarena, a Mexican tenor who specializes in Bel Canto roles, is fest at the Zürich Opera. He has appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper, Cologne, Dresden, Düsseldorf and as Almaviva in a new production of Barbiere at Paris Opera.

Fabio Centanni, an Italian vocal coach and pianist, has been the accompanist for Renata Scotto's Opera Studio at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome for the past four years. He was in the International Opera Studio of the Zürich Opera and was on the Music Staff of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf for several seasons. He gives Master Classes at the Voz Plena school in Rio de Janerio, and is also an active recitalist and chamber music pianist.

Czech-born mezzo-soprano Lucie Ceralová holds a degree in German linguistics from the Polacky University Olomouc, as well as a Master's from the Hochschule für Musik (Conservatory) in Dresden, Germany. She has received numerous awards and stipends and won the International Antonín Dvorak Voice Competition. Lucie was fest at the opera house in Rostock for several years, currently freelancing, she has performed on the RADIOkultur Berlin Radio program, with the Czech Radio Orchestra, Staatstheater Schwerin and Stadtische Bühne Münster.

Conductor Jonathan Darlington is music director of Vancouver Opera and just finished his tenure as music director of the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra. He has conducted orchestras and operas all over the world, including the Orchestre National de France, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the BBC Orchestra, Sydney Opera, English National Opera, the National Orchestra of Taiwan and Vancouver Opera among many others. He also appears as collaborative pianist in recitals with Christoph Pregardien.

A competition-winning pianist, Italian vocal coach Simone di Felice studied piano at the conservatory in Pescara and has a Masters Degree in Collaborative Arts. He is currently a coach on the music staff of the Badische Staatsoper in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Nathalie Doucet, a native of New Brunswick, Canada, studied at L'Université de Moncton and L'Université de Montréal. She has worked for many opera companies in North America, including Opéra de Montréal, Des Moines Metro Opera, Orlando Opera and Knoxville Opera, was on the staff of McGill University and has been on the faculty of several European summer music programs, including COSI in Sulmona, Italy, and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. She currently resides in Holland, working as a freelance coach/accompanist in both Europe and Canada.

Andrej Dunaev, born in Siberia, studied at the State Institute of Culture in Moscow and the Tschaikowsky Conservatory. He made his operatic debut with the Bolshoi Theater in 2000, and performed Lensky in the Bolshoi's newest production of Onegin, which has been broadcast throughout Europe, released on DVD and toured internationally. He has sung with the Opéra National de Paris, Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, La Scala, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Lisbon, Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and Théâtre de Genève. He is currently in the fest ensemble at the Semperoper in Dresden. Andrej also used to sing in a rock band in Russia!

Maria Fontosh
is a Ukranian-born soprano raised in Russia. She studied at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, and made her debut with the Royal Opera house in Stockholm in 2001. She took 3rd prize in Placido Domingo's Operalia Competition in 2002 and has gone on to sing with many orchestras and opera companies such as Opéra National de Paris, the Semperoper, the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Swedish Radio Orchestra. The most current online biography is in German here, or an older one in English is available here.

Donald George has enjoyed a long career as a lyric tenor throughout Europe, and is currently dividing his time between performances and teaching at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY. He recently released the CD "Love is Everywhere" with pianist Lucy Mauro.

Dr. Francois Germain grew up in Aix-en-Provence, France, the son of a German mother and a French father. He earned Masters and Doctorate degrees in piano performance from the University of Montréal. A specialist in French melodie, Lied and Art Song, Francois was an assistant to Rosemarie Landry (a French diction specialist, and a student of Bernac and Souzay). He currently serves on the faculty of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

Vanessa Goikoetxea, a soprano in the Junges Ensemble at the Semperoper, is a native of Durango, Spain, in the Basque region. She studied at the Escuela de canto superior in Madrid and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany. She has sung with the RTVE television choir in Spain and has won several competitions, including Fidelia Campina.

A native of Kiel, Germany, bass Thorsten Grümbel studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Detmold and has sung throughout Europe, including the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Semperoper in Dresden, Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finnland, Prague National Theater and Opéra National de Paris. From 1999-2009, Thorsten was fest at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. Currently he is fest with Oper Frankfurt.

Tenor Virgil Hartinger grew up in Salzburg, Austria, and studied at the Mozarteum there, and also at Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory in the United States. He has performed with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, the Salzburger Festspiel, the Händelfestspiel in Göttingen, the Beethovenfest in Bonn, and has performed in the concert houses of Berlin, Dortmund, Lisbon, Nantes and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Markus Henn
is a German coach who studied conducting at the Royal Conservatory in London. He worked for the Hamburg State Opera before joining the music staff of the Semperoper in 2002.

Norwegian bass Ketil Hugaas is currently fest with the National Opera of Norway in Oslo, after many years at the Royal Opera in Sweden. He has a wide repertoire of roles, including many of the major German romantic operas. He's making his debut this season with the Semperoper in Lulu. I also found his biography in Norwegian, if you want to try it!

Tenor Martin Koch, a native of Hamburg, Germany, studied voice at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne and went on to the Young Artist Program of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. He has since performed throughout Germany and Europe, with such houses as the Bayrische Staatsoper in Munich, Hamburg, Heidelberg and the Bregenz Festspiel, as well as on tour to Shanghai as Mime in Wagner's Ring Cycle. Martin is currently part of the fest ensemble of the Cologne Oper (Oper Köln).

Silke Kurpiers
trained as a pianist and a singer when she was young, but went on to earn a degree in speech therapy in Nordrhein-Westfallen, Germany. She worked for almost a decade as a speech therapist before moving to Norway and becoming a stage manager for opera. She is currently a stage manager on the staff of the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany.

Mark Lawson, an Iowa native, is currently on the Music Staff of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Germany. He holds degrees from Drake University, Manhatten School of Music and a doctorate in Piano Performance from Eastman School of Music and was in the Merola Program twice.

Carlo Lepore is a native of Naples. As a basso buffo, he has appeared all over Europe, in such houses as La Scala, Verona, Provence, Liège and Las Palmas, as well as Houston Grand Opera. He was also the voice of Gaston in the Italian dubbing of the Disney film Beauty and the Beast!

Mezzo-soprano Sofi Lorentzen was born and raised in Sweden, but studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden, Germany. In 2004/05, she held a stipend from the Royal Academy of Stockholm. Since 2005 she has been working at the Semperoper in Dresden, the first year in the Junges Ensemble (Young Artist Program) and after that, as a fest member of the Ensemble.

Amanda Majeski is an American lyric soprano. With her graduate degree from Curtis Institute, she went on to San Francisco Opera's Merola Program and the Ryan Opera Center of Chicago Lyric Opera. Having been fest at the Semperoper in Dresden last season, the next few seasons will see her performing with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Oper Frankfurt, Salzburg Easter Festival with Christian Thielemann conducting, the Semperoper in Dresden, Teatero Real in Madrid, Glyndebourne and Opera Company of Philadelphia.

Markus Marquardt, a baritone originally from Düsseldorf, Germany, has appeared at the Salzburg Festival, Hamburg State Opera, Semperoper in Dresden, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, La Scala in Milan and many other houses. Also a concert performer, Markus organizes a Lieder Recital Series in Dresden.

James Martin
is an Australian baritone who studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, and at the Hochschule in Mannheim, Germany. After spending two years in the Junges Ensemble (Young Artist Program) at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, James has gone on to sing with the Bregenz Festspiele, Staatsoper Stuttgart and Geneva Opera, as well as the Junge Kammeroper Köln.

Dr. Catherine McDaniel is a voice professor and lyric diction teacher on the faculty of the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. As a mezzo-soprano, she has performed in both the US and Europe, and maintains a busy concert career on top of teaching.

Jan McDaniel is professor of Vocal Coaching and conductor for the University Opera and Music Theater at the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. He was on the music staff of the opera house in Detmold, Germany for several years before returning to the States, and is equally at home in both the operatic/art song and musical theater genres.

Nadja Mchantaf is a soprano in the ensemble at the Semperoper, after two seasons in the Junges Ensemble. She studied at the Leipzig Hochschule and worked in several Lieder Master Courses with Peter Schreier.

Nathalie de Montmollin is a soprano from Lausanne, Switzerland. She was in the ensemble of the Stadttheater Münster, performed with the Landesbühnen Sachsen and is currently at the Mainfranken Theater in Würzburg, Germany. A prolific concert singer, she has performed with the Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne Philharmonics, and has been broadcast in recital over Radio Suisse Romande.

Uta Mücksch
, a prompter at the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany, studied voice and pedagogy at the conservatories in Leipzig and Dresden. She has sung with the opera company in Halle and continues to perform in Lieder Recitals, Oratorio, concert work, and with the Baroque ensemble Musica da camera.

Rainer Mühlbach is a German conductor who has been working in opera since 1984. A native of Dresden back in the days of East Germany, Rainer conducted the rehearsals for Leonard Bernstein for the Freedom Concert in Berlin to celebrate the Wall falling, and went on to be Mr. Bernstein's assistant for 3 years. He has conducted throughout Europe and the United States, and is currently a Kappellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and coaches at the Düsseldorf Hochschule.

Italian bass Maurizio Muraro enjoys a world-wide career, having sung with the Metropolitan Opera; the New National Theater in Tokio; the State Opera Houses in Vienna, Munich and Berlin; La Scala; the Royal Theater in Bruselles; La Fenice; and the Semperoper in Dresden. He appears on many recordings and several films of opera productions.

Conductor Henrik Nánási studied composition and piano at the Béla Bartok Conservatory in Budapest, before going on to the University for the Performing Arts in Vienna to study conducting, accompanying and composition. He was First Kappellmeister at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, but is now freelancing throughout Europe. Henrik has guest conducted at the Vienna Folksoper, the Semperoper, Staatstheater Braunschweig and the Budapest Operetta.

British baritoneSimon Neal studied music at Leicester University, but went on to have a successful career as a businessman before returning to music. He was Principal Baritone at the Theater Dortmund for several years, and has performed with Opera Australia, English National Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, Opéra de Lyon and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra as well as all over England and Germany.

Dr. Augustin Ulrich Nebert studied voice at the music conservatory in Leipzig as well as speech science at Halle-Wittenberg. His company, Sprechatelier, teaches everything from diction classes to media/public speaking to debate/rhetoric, in Hochdeutsch and in the different German dialects.
Jason Nedecky is a Canadian baritone and lyric diction specialist. He has appeared in concert, recital and opera throughout Canada, and studied at the University of Toronto, in Baden Baden bei Wien in Austria, in Aldeburgh, England and at L'Académie Musicale de Villecroze in Provence, France, as well as the Banff Centre. He currently teaches lyric diction at the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and serves as language coach at the Canadian Opera Company. Jason is the author of French Diction for Singers: A Handbook of Pronunciation for French Opera and Mélodie.

Czech conductor Tomáš Netopil studied in the Czech Republic and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. He won the first Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition in 2002 and since then has conducted all over the world as both an orchestral and opera conductor. He is currently the Music Director of the National Theater in Prague.

American conductor Erik Nielsen is a graduate of the Curtis Institute. In the summer of 2008 he stepped in at James Levine's request to conduct The Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny at Tanglewood and in 2009 won the Solti Foundation conducting award. He was Kappellmeister at Oper Frankfurt and mades his Metropolitan Opera debut December 2010 conducting Die Zauberflöte. He now enjoys a freelance career in Europe and the United States.

Hungarian tenor Zoltán Nyári started his musical studies with the violin before going on to study acting at the College of Theater and Film in Budapest. He has appeared at the Hungarian State Opera, the Semperoper in Dresden, the Budapest Operetta Theater, diCapo Opera Theater in NYC, in a tour throughout Asia and was the tenor soloist in Ha Noi for the largest ever performance of Mahler's 8th Symphony.

American tenor Timothy Oliver holds Bachelor and Master's degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has gone on to a fest contract with Semperoper, and has performed at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, in the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, and with Virginia Opera. He recently made his role debut as Faust in Berlioz's Damnation de Faust at the Vienna Musikverein under the baton of Fabio Luisi, and this summer marks his debut with the Sante Fe Opera Summer Festival.

Netta Or, an Isreali-born soprano who grew up in Aachen, Germany, made her Salzburg Festspiele debut in 2005 to great acclaim. She has performed in many opera houses and festivals throughout Europe, including the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Leipzig Opera, Essen Opera, Teatro Poliziano Montepulciano in Italy, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Irish National Opera.

John Packard created the role of Joseph de Rocher in the World Premiere of Dead Man Walking and can be heard on the original cast recording. The American baritone has sung all over the United States and Europe, including the operas of San Francisco, Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the Vienna Folksoper, La Fenice in Venice, Hawaii Opera Theater and the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany.

Matteo Pais
is a native of Genova, Italy, where he studied piano at the conservatory. Currently the coach and music coordinator of the Scuola dell'opera italiana in Bologna, he has worked all over Italy, including Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro dell'Opera de Roma and Teatro Regio di Parma. As assistant to Antonello Allemandi, he worked at L'Opera di Roma, Paris Opera, the Bolshoi Theater and the Novaya Opera in Moscow. He is also a collaborative pianist, has judged several international competitions and gives Master Classes to the Junges Ensemble at the Semperoper.

American tenor Aaron Pegram grew up in Oklahoma. He holds a degree in Musical Theater from the University of Tulsa and worked many years as an actor, including 5 years (over 1500 performances!) as the hunchback Quasimodo in Disneyworld's Hunchback of Notre Dame. In 2003 he won Orlando Opera's Heinz Rehfuss Singing Actor Award and was invited into their opera program, which launched his career in opera. He has since sung for Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Birmigham, Anchorage Opera and Opera New Jersey. Currently in the ensemble of the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany, this past summer Aaron performed at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in Japan under the baton of Seiji Ozawa.

German-born actress Susanne Plassman studied acting at the Bayerischen Theaterakademie in Munich and at Brooklyn College in New York. While in NY, she worked with the performance group Forced Entertainment, and later went on to a fest contract with the Bremer Shakespeare Company. As a freelance actress, she is currently working on a co-production between Germany and Isreal called "The Jew and the German."

Baritone Christoph Pohl, a native of Hannover, Germany, began his singing career in the boy choir in Hannover, going on to sing in the a capella group Modell Andante. He was in the opera studio of Hamburg Staatsoper, has appeared all over Germany, including the Bayrische Staatsoper in Munich, has won or placed in many competitions, including the 4th International competition for Wagner voices at Bayreuth, and is currently engaged at the Semperoper in Dresden. An active recitalist, Christoph has a new CD coming out soon with his pianist Tobias Krampen.

Clemens Posselt is a vocal coach with the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany. He studied Accompanying at the Leipzig conservatory and, after a short contract at the Volkstheater Rostock, spent 19 years on the music staff of Oper Leipzig before joining the Semperoper Music Staff five years ago. He maintains his strong ties to Leipzig by accompanying the Leipziger Synagogalchor, a semi-professional chorus, performing chamber music as harpsichordist with the Camerati Concertanti and coaching for the Leipzig Hochschule. He and his wife are also part of a trio called Musiquette, which performs operetta and Musical Theater standards.

Contralto Rebecca Raffell is the daughter of two opera singers and grew up travelling the world with them. She attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and has gone on to perform throughout Europe in opera and Lieder Recitals. The season she begins a Fest contract with the opera house in Karlsruhe, Germany. There is also a German version of her resume here

French tenor Gilles Ragon has sung leading opera roles throughout Europe, in every style from Baroque to Wagner to modern music. A former student of Nicolai Gedda, Gilles has over 50 recordings in his discography, including most recently the complete Debussy Mélodies in 2014. He spent many years on a fest contract in Stuttgart, and is currently Artistic Director of the Nantes Vocal and Instrumental Ensemble. 

American tenor Charles Reid has appeared at many of the major opera houses and orchestra halls throughout the US and Europe, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Salzburg Festspiel, Bayreuth, Deutsch Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Theater an der Wien, the National Orchestre de Lyon and in Barcelona, Madrid and Mexico City. He has his own podcast, This Opera Life, with behind the scenes conversations with performers in the opera world, which is also available free on iTunes!

Oliver Ringelhahn, an Austrian tenor who studied at the Vienna Conservatory, has sung with the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Geneva Opera, Vienna Volksoper, Hannover, Hamburg, and the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich. He has been in the ensemble of the Dresden Semperoper since 2003.

Mirko Roschowkski, a tenor who grew up in Dortmund, Germany, started out studying to become a German teacher. He soon switched to singing, studying with Edda Moser both privately and in Master Classes. He performs regularly with the Berliner Staatsoper, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Dresden Semperoper, Cologne Opera, and the Vienna Folksoper, as well as many other companies. Also well-known as a recitalist, Mirko and I will be performing for the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiel this summer as part of their Wandelkonzert, in a program entitled "Wir".

Andrea Sanguineti graduated summa cum laude in Piano from the Genoa Conservatory and went on to study conducting at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and the conservatory in Milano. He has coached for the Opera Studio of the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg, France, and for the International Vocal Arts Institute in New York City. Since 2007, he has been on the music staff of the Staatsoper Hannover in Germany, where he coaches and conducts.

Ekaterina "Katja" Sapega-Klein, born and raised in Russia, studied piano, music education and theory in Togliatti and Hannover. During her studies she accompanied master classes for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Aribert Reimann and Irwin Gage. As collaborative pianist, she has performed throughout Germany, Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, and is the official accompanist for several international opera competitions. Formerly on staff at the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover, Katja is currently a staff pianist at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden and the Russian language coach at the Semperoper.

Michael Schütze has a degree in Accompanying with honors from the Dresden Hochschule (Conservatory), studied in the Lieder classes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and went on to accompany many international competitions, recitals and master classes. He has worked at the Tanglewood Festival in Boston as well as giving master classes at the California State University in Fullerton and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and currently teaches coaching and accompanying on the faculty of the Dresden Hochschule.

Philip Shepard is the author of What the Fach?! The Definitive Guide for Opera Professionals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He has been singing in Germany since 2004 and is now branching into other areas of the opera world.

Hans Sotin, vocal coach, grew up in Hamburg, Germany, and studied accompanying at the Hochschule in Berlin. After engagements in Düsseldorf and Mainingen, he joined the music staff of the Semperoper in 2003.

Swedish soprano Gisela Stille studied at Lund University in Sweden and the Opera Academy in Copenhagen. She was fest at the opera house in Bonn for several years, and is curently a principle singer at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen. Recently she's been performing Stefan Herheim's production of Lulu throughout Europe; upcoming contracts include the Bregenzer Festspiel and Welsh National Opera. She also toured Great Britain with Elvis Costello, singing songs that he wrote specifically for her!

Baritone Dmitri Vargin was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, studied voice at the Tashkent Conservatory and went on to study at the Hochschule für Musik (music conservatory) in Hamburg, Germany. He has been under contract at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein since 2005 and in 2007 was Uzbekistan's representative in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. He has appeared throughout Germany (including the Hamburg Staatsoper) at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and is scheduled to make his Glyndebourne debut in a few seasons. He also has an entry at the blog Barihunks!

Felice Venanzoni grew up and studied in Pesaro, Italy, which is near Rossini's birthplace. He is the Studienleiter (Head Coach) of Oper Frankfurt. Summer 2010 he was the Italian coach and harpsichordist for the Salzburger Festspiel's production of Don Giovanni, and in the 2010-11 season he coached a Handel opera with Theater an der Wien in Vienna and assisted Jean-Christophe Spinosi at the Théâtre du Châtelet. This season he will also be music director for a piece at the Semperoper. He also asked me to make sure to say that he loves his job and is still surviving after 19 years in the business!

Lydía Zervános is a Greek soprano and cellist and she enjoys a career using both instruments, sometimes in the same performance! During her studies at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, she created a Guide to Greek Diction for Singers for the Presidential Scholars Program. Her book, Singing in Greek: A Guide to Greek Diction and Vocal Repertoire" is scheduled to be published and released in the fall of 2014.