German-born Gun-Brit Barkmin is considered one of today’s most exciting singing actresses and finds herself in international demand for some of opera’s most complex characters including Salome, Marie (Wozzeck), Katerina Izmailova (Lady Macbeth of Mzsensk) and Emilia Marty (Věc Makropulos).
Salome has proved a pivotal role in Barkmin’s recent seasons with productions at Wiener Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zürich, Prague Opera and Oper Stuttgart as well as in concert performance under Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and under Charles Dutoit with both Tokyo’s NHK Orchestra at the 2017 Verbier Festival.
In the summer of 2017 she delivered a brilliant performance of Regan in Aribert Reimann’s opera Lear under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst at the Salzburg Festival.
In the 2017/18 season, Barkmin debuted at Staatsoper Hamburg as Marie, conducted by Kent Nagano, returned to Wiener Staatsoper as Salome under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, sang Chrysothemis in the opening production of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the new home of Greek National Opera, portrayed the daughter in Hindemith’s Cardillac under Fabio Luisi at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and reunited with Charles Dutoit for further performances as Salome, this time with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
Highlights of the 2018/19 season include performances at the Bavarian State Opera (Karl V. by Krenek) and again Salome at the Vienna State Opera.
Expanding on an existing Wagnerian repertoire of Sieglinde and Elsa (Lohengrin), Barkmin sang her first Isolde (Tristan und Isolde) at Oper Graz in 2016 and, in August 2018, with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra under Asher Fisch, to great acclaim. In January 2018 she debuted as Brünnhilde (Götterdämmerung) with the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden as part of its Ring Cycle concert and recording project on the Naxos Label.
Demonstrating her impressive versatility and musicality, Gun-Brit Barkmin has also created the role of Elena in the world premiere of Sotelo’s El Público at Teatro Real Madrid under Pablo Heras- Casado, and appeared as both Guinevere in Birtwistle’s Gawain under Ingo Metzmacher. A recent successful debut at Opéra national de Paris as Marie under Michael Schønwandt followed Gun-Brit Barkmin’s highly acclaimed performance in Andreas Homoki’s new production of Wozzeck at Opernhaus Zürich under Music Director, Fabio Luisi (now released on DVD).
At the outset of her career, Barkmin was a member of Komische Oper Berlin where her many roles included Ghita in Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg, Jenůfa in Willy Decker’s pivotal production, the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, marking Harry Kupfer’s farewell to the Theatre, and Berg’s Marie. She has since gone on to cultivate strong relationships with several major European theatres including Wiener Staatsoper where, after her debut as Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes), she has received regular return invitations including as Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Chrysothemis (Elektra), a role she has also performed as part of the BBC Proms under Semyon Bychkov and at the Bavarian State Opera in a Robert Carsen production, with Lothar Koenigs conducting.
A consummate concert performer, Gun-Brit has performed Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jakub Hrůša, Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with the Dresdner Philharmonie and Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard, Schönberg’s Gurrelieder at the International Festival in Nagoya as well as Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie conducted by Andris Nelsons.
Gun-Brit Barkmin’s debut as Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung in Hong Kong under Jaap van Zweden, January 2018:
„The star of the production was undoubtedly Gun-Brit Barkmin as Brünnhilde. She displayed an amazing range of emotional expression, from gentle lyrical beauty – as in her goose-pimple inducing lament for Siegfried upon his death – to high drama, as in her lashing out at the gods for their perverted cruelty. Svelte in the former and forceful in the latter, her voice displayed tremendous agility and malleability. Her voice was one of few which consistently projected above the orchestra throughout with impeccable diction.“
Bachtrack (Alan Yu), 22 Jan 2018
„With such a large orchestra on stage, rather than in the pit, some of the singers struggled at times to be heard over the swelling score – but no such difficulties for German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, making her debut as Brünnhilde. Her Wagnerian repertoire includes Sieglinde in Die Walküre and Elsa in Lohengrin, and she recently sang her first Isolde at Oper Graz. Her voice has a bright, gleaming steeliness with a clarion clarity and blazing top notes. Dramatically, she has great presence and delivered a dignified, fierce Brünnhilde you wouldn’t want to mess with.“
Limelight Magazine Australia (Jo Listen), 22 Jan 2018
Gun-Brit Barkmin as Chrysothemis at the opening of Athen’s new National Opera House, Oct 2017:
„Impressive was Gun-Brit Barkmin’s Chrysothemis with her superbly resonant, richly coloured, flourishing soprano.“
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Feuilleton (Josef Oehrlein), 17 Oct 2017
Gun-Brit Barkmin sings Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs in Seattle, June 2017:
„Luckily, Dausgaard brought along soprano soloist Gun-Brit Barkmin for the ‚Four Last Songs‘, much to the delight of the audience. Barkmin, a German-born singer whose opera career includes a lot of Strauss and Wagner, proved a revelation.
Huge and supple, her expressive voice makes the music sound effortless, soaring above the staff with ease and warmth, and with obvious deep understanding of the autumnal songs (she performed these complicated, shifting pieces without a score).
After the last song, the audience provided such an enthusiastic ovation that Barkmin returned for an encore: ‚Morgen‘, one of Strauss’ loveliest art songs.“
Seattle Times (Melinda Bargreen) — June 16, 2017
SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS 2017/18
19, 22, 15 Nov 2017
1 Dec 2017
A. Berg: Wozzeck
w/ Gun-Brit Barkmin as Marie
Kent Nagano, cond.
5, 8, 11 Dec 2017
R. Strauss: Elektra
w/ Gun-Brit Barkmin as Chrysothemis
Ingo Metzmacher, cond.
15 Dec 2017
R. Strauss: Elektra
w/ Gun-Brit Barkmin as Chrysothemis
Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France
Mikko Franck, cond.
18 Jan 2018
21 Jan 2018
HONG KONG, Cultural Centre
R. Wagner: Götterdämmerung
w/ Gun-Brit Barkmin as Brünnhilde (role debut)
Hong Kong Philharmonic
Jaap van Zweden, cond.
01 Apr 2018
04 Apr 2018
08 Apr 2018
MÜNCHEN, Bayerische Staatsoper
R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne)
05 May 2018
09 May 2018
12 May 2018
15 May 2018
FIRENZE, Maggio Musicale
P. Hindemith: Cardillac (La Figlia)
w/ Fabio Luisi, cond.
June 23, 2018
Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
Charles Dutoit, cond.
Strauss: Salome (title role)
June 17, 2018
National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra
Puccini: Tosca (title role)
August 16, 2018
August 19, 2018
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Asher Fisch, cond.
Wagner: Isolde (title role)
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