Anna Caterina Antonacci
Now established as one of the finest sopranos of her generation, Anna Caterina Antonacci is an award-winning vocalist, winning multiple prestigious prizes including The International Competition for Verdian Voices (1988), the Maria Callas Competition, and the Pavarotti Competition, all celebrating her musicality and expression, but above all, her voice itself. From the brilliant comic Rossini of her early years, she moved to his serious operas including Mose in Egitto, Semiramide, Elisabetta Regina d’Inghilterra, and Ermione. She then introduced Donizetti’s queens, Mozart’s Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Elettra (Idomeneo) and Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito) into her repertoire. This was followed by Gluck’s Armide, staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi and conducted by Riccardo Muti, which opened the 1996/97 season at La Scala; Alceste in Parma and Salzburg; and Cherubini’s Medea in Toulouse and at Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet. Her triumph as Cassandra in the Chatelet’s 2003 production of Les Troyens with Sir John Eliot Gardiner signaled a migration towards the great heroines of the French repertoire, following in Regine Crespin’s footsteps. Here, a tragedienne was born. In La Juive and Carmen (at Covent Garden with Pappano and at the Opéra Comique with Gardiner respectively), she revived a tradition of French singing in the spirit of Viardot, another great Rossinian. These accomplishments were followed by Handel’s Agrippina and Rodelinda. Her portrayal of two roles in L’incoronazione di Poppea, as Poppea (Munich) and Nero (Paris), inspired Era la notte, her one-woman show based on Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, which continues to tour. Equally accomplished in the recital hall, Ms. Antonacci’s relationship with pianist Donald Sulzen has allowed her to focus increasingly on song, both Italian (Tosti, Respighi) and French, notably Faure (L’horizon chimerique), Debussy and Reynaldo Hahn. 2013 was a landmark year, with the premiere of La Voix humaine and two noteworthy concerts: Faure’s Penelope and Reyer’s Sigurd. She began a wonderful year in 2014 with Carmen at Covent Garden opposite Roberto Alagna, conducted by Daniel Oren and continued with Les Troyens at La Scala, followed by her debut in Iphigenie en Tauride at the Grand Theatre de Genève. Ms. Antonacci had an opera composed for her by Marco Tutino, La ciociara, which premiered at San Francisco Opera. Engagements this season and beyond include La ciociara at Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Gloriana at Teatro Real Madrid, La Voix humaine/Il segreto di Susanna and Dialogues des Carmélites at Teatro Regio Turin and Cassandra in Les Troyens at the Wiener Staatsoper. She continues to give recitals in major venues across the world with her pianist Donald Sulzen.
Donald Sulzen is one of the few pianists who has attained highest international recognition in two realms of classical music. Not only is he a collaborator with some of the worlds most celebrated singers, such as Anna Caterina Antonacci, Laura Aikin, Thomas Cooley and James Taylor, but is also the pianist of the renowned Munich Piano Trio. The London Times hails him as “spirited and stimulating” and the Süddeutsche Zeitung praises his “intelligent, brilliant interpretation.” A native Kansas Citian, Donald Sulzen received his first degree at the École Normale de Musique in Paris (Jules Gentil), from which he graduated with honors. Under the instruction of Joseph Banowetz and Harold Heiberg he earned a Master of Music degree summa cum laude at the University of North Texas. He then moved to Europe to specialize in German song through masterclasses with Martin Katz, Geoffrey Parsons and John Wustman. His extensive concert activity includes tours through the most prestigious recital halls of Europe, the USA, South America, and Japan. He has augmented his personal appearance schedule with numerous performances on radio and television: Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich; WDR, Cologne; Radio France, Paris; RAI 1, Rome; RAI 3, Naples; Südfunk Stuttgart; Radio Bremen; and Nippon-TV, Tokyo. More than thirty CD productions for Orfeo International, Toshiba-EMI, Koch International, Genuin, Arte Nova, cpo, and Amati document the high artistic level of this pianist. His most current releases are Antonín Dvořák's Piano Trios Op. 65/Dumky Trio, Op. 90 (Genuin), as well as Georg Schumann's Piano Trios 1 & 2 (cpo), both with the Munich Piano Trio. After teaching for several years at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, he accepted a professorship for the instruction of song duos at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, where he presently resides. His interest in young singers is evidenced by his former activity as accompanist for the master classes of Astrid Varnay, Eleanor Steber, Magda Olivero, George Shirley, and Hermann Prey. He also gives masterclasses for singers and pianists throughout America, Europe, and Japan (Yale University, Cursos Internacionales Manuel de Falla, Granada ...). Currently among the artists accompanied by Donald Sulzen are such well-known names as Anna Caterina Antonacci, Laura Aikin, Daphne Evangelatos, Julie Kaufmann, Ofelia Sala, Marilyn Schmiege, Thomas Cooley, David Daniels and James Taylor. He also collaborates with New York flutist Don Bailey for Voyage Unlimited, a not-for-profit organization committed to the performance, recording and publication of new and standard chamber music for flute. Since 2001 he is the official pianist of the Munich Piano Trio, which cellist Gerhard Zank founded in 1982. Donald Sulzen’s passion for combining the musicians of his trio with his vocal artists is revealed through unique CD recordings involving works of Joseph Haydn, Alberto Ginastera, Ned Rorem and Astor Piazzolla.