After a quarter century of singing in professional opera productions around the world, Mark Milhofer is at the peak of his vocal powers. Able to switch comfortably from Monteverdi to Mozart, from Rossini to Lehar and Britten to Eotvos, Mark has the years of experience that keep him in constant demand by international theatres. From being a Choral Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, to Post Diploma Training at the Guildhall School of Music in London and then winning one of the few places on the Italian Opera Studio in Milan, Mark has the solid technique that allows him to be so versatile.
Starting his career in Italy, Mark made his international debut when he was chosen by Giorgio Strehler to inaugurate the late great Italian director’s brand-new theatre in Milan with Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Initially, there were 41 shows, a Guinness World Record for the same opera in the same theatre, and over the next 10 years the opera was often revived with Mark singing it over 100 times, including performances in Cairo and Alexandria, Moscow, Beijing, Istanbul, Seoul and many cities in Europe.
Apart from the privilege of singing in some of the most beautiful theatres in the world, other highlights in Mark’s career include working with Franco Zeffirelli on his production of Pagliacci, which was performed in a Greek Amphitheatre in the shadow of the Parthenon in Athens. The hilarious Dario Fo production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, which involves spinning around the stage using two small tables as roller skates. Getting completely naked for a movingly staged Billy Budd in Turin, directed by Davide Livermore. Wearing impossibly high-heeled shoes in Stuttgart for Purcell’s The Fairy Queen directed by Calixto Bieito. Learning magic tricks from a professional magician for Menotti’s The Consul. Rising up into the gods in a pink carriage in Cenerentola in Bern. Being blindfolded for almost an entire opera (Britten’s Curlew River in Perugia and Trento), and singing in a haystack in Purcell’s King Arthur in Berlin and Vienna.
A busy concert schedule encompasses a broad variety of oratorios and recital programmes. From Bach's Passions and Handel’s Messiah to Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and War Requiem, to Orff's Carmina Burana and Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. Recital programmes, often to promote new CD releases, include Tosti: The Song of a Life and Benjamin Britten Complete Folk Song Settings. Mark’s latest project is based around the songs written by and for the great tenor Enrico Caruso: Enrico Caruso – His Songs. His double album of these songs was released in time for Caruso’s 150th birthday on Feb 25th 2023. He has also published a new book of Caruso’s songs, writing a scholarly introduction, bringing them together for the first time.
Current operatic work includes productions of Monteverdi’s Ulisse in Geneva and Aix en Provence, Cavalli’s Eliogabalo and Lessons in Love and Violence by George Benjamin in Zurich, Luigi Rossi’s Il Palazzo Incantato in Versailles, Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, a staged Bach St John Passion in Salzburg, Dijon and Paris, and Cavalli’s La Calisto in Munich. Next recordings include Britten’s Les Illuminations with Oleg Caetani and the London Philharmonia, and Britten’s Michelangelo Sonnets with Marco Scolastra (piano) for Brilliant Classics.
The Italian pianist Marco Scolastra studied at the Conservatory “F. Morlacchi” in Perugia with Franco Fabiani, graduating magna cum laude. He furthered his studies with Aldo Ciccolini and Ennio Pastorino, and also attended several masterclasses, with Lya De Barberiis, Paul Badura-Skoda, Dario De Rosa and, at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, with Joaquin Achucarro and Katia Labèque.
He has performed with numerous renowned chamber orchestras for the most distinguished Italian music institutions, such as: Ravello Festival, Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Oratorio del Gonfalone, Teatro dell’Opera, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro Regio in Parma, Auditorium Verdi in Milan, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Teatro San Carlo in Napoli, “Cappella Sistina”. Furthermore, the appreciated soloist has performed in Austria (Musikverein/Vienna), Spain, Switzerland (Tonhalle and ZKO-Haus/Zurich, Konzerthaus/Bern), Canada (Montreal), Romania (Cluj, where he played the national première of the Concert for two pianos and orchestra by Poulenc), Russia (Conservatory Cajkovskij/Moscow), Poland (Institute Chopin/Warsaw), Belgium (Festival van Vlaanderen), France (Orchestre National du Capitole/Toulouse), Japan, Germany, U.S.A.
Marco has also collaborated with various Italian and foreign orchestras: Saratov Philharmonic Orchestra, New Art Ensemble, Transylvania State Symphonic Orchestra, I Solisti Veneti (Claudio Scimone), Orchestra Sinfonica Verdi di Milano (Richard Hickox), Zurich Chamber Orchestra (Howard Griffits), Berliner Symphoniker (Lior Shambadal), Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie (Andrew Constantine), Moscow Soloists (Yuri Bashmet), Wiener Concert-Verein.
Marco regularly plays with highly esteemed artists, in particular: Vadim Brodski, Renato Bruson, Alessandro Carbonare, Max René Cosotti, Roberto Fabbriciani, Arnoldo Foà, Fejes Quartet, Corrado Giuffredi, Sumi Jo, Raina Kabaivanska, Daniela Mazzucato, Quartetto d’Archi del Teatro di San Carlo, Kodály Quartet, Mirco Palazzi, Marianna Pizzolato, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Desirée Rancatore, Charlie Siem.