Aida, Cast Thebes - daughter of the Ethiopian king, prisoner at the Egyptian court and the great love of Radames.
For the title role of our production, we cannot imagine a better soloist than the unique Danish coloratura soprano Nina Claussen. Nina makes her debut in our AIDA in the role of a modern, strong Aida.
Nina studied at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Odense, Denmark, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 2008 and a Master's degree in 2010. Postgraduate studies followed, which she also successfully completed in 2012 in the solo voice program. Subsequently, Nina took lessons both at Bel Canto Vocal Studio London and with Abbie Fumansky in Berlin. To further round out her artistic education, she also trained in acting and dance. All this makes Nina an absolute multi-talent, which is also reflected in her repertoire. The likeable Dane has appeared several times as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's "Magic Flute" or as a bread seller in Shostakovich's "The Nose" on the stage of the Royal Opera in her hometown of Copenhagen and has also toured as a soloist through Japan, Korea, Iceland, Italy and other European countries. In addition to classical operas, Nina has also appeared in a number of experimental productions combining theater, modern dance, opera and singing, among others.
Nina has received numerous awards, including the Jury's Talent Prize at the "Unge Spiller Klassisk" competition or the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award from the Danish National Arts Foundation. As recently as 2020, she was awarded two prestigious honorary prizes - one for her vocal interpretation and one for her strong stage presence. She was also a finalist in the Fulham Opera Verdi Prize London in 2015.
Aida, Cast Memphis - daughter of the Ethiopian king, prisoner at the Egyptian court and the great love of Radames.
Yana Kleyn will take on the title role of Aida in our Cast Memphis and is not singing it for the first time. She was trained as a pianist at the Gnesins Academy of Music from a young age and finished her many years of musical training with a Master at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Denmark, where she moved from Moscow and still lives today.
She recently sang Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madame Butterfly, a role for which BR-Klassik described her as "a discovery in terms of performance and a sensation in terms of singing", and also not long ago she sang the role of Mimì, in Puccini's La Boheme, at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen and at the Cologne Opera. Yana is particularly familiar with Puccini's works, as in addition to the role of Cio-Cio San, she sang the role of Nella in Gianni Schicchi and the title role in Suor Angelica, which she last sang at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. She also performed the role of Desdemona in Otello at the Savonlinna Festival, Rachel in F. Halévy's La Juive in Constance, Mussorgsky's Songs or Dances of Death at the Stockholm Concert Hall.
In 2022, the Copenhagen Opera Festival named her Talent of the Year and, in the same year, Yana sang the role of Aida at the Hedeland Opera and will also embody it for our AIDA.
Amneris, Cast Memphis - daughter of the Egyptian king and rival of Aida, united in love for Radames.
For the mezzo-soprano born in Montreal (Can) and living in Berlin, the role of Amneris is not an unknown one. She already sang this leading role in the 2021/2022 season at "Den Jyske Opera" (Arhus, DK) and also in the 2022/23 season she sang Amneris at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen.
Nora studied piano and singing at McGill University with Therese Sevadjian and was a member of the "Internationaal Opera Centrum" in Amsterdam (NL) from 1998 to 1999 and a member of the soloist ensemble of the Staatstheater Kassel from 1999 to 2001. Since 2002 she has been working as a freelance opera soloist.
During her career, which has taken her to the opera houses of Zurich, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Naples, Essen, Cologne, Graz, the Met in New York, Seattle, Bellas Artes in Mexico or Tokyo, she has held numerous leading roles. A very special key role for her is the role of Carmen in the play of the same name, which she sang in over 20 productions worldwide, including at the Welsh National Opera, Opéra de Québec, Leipzig Opera, Cologne Opera, Latvian National Opera, Klagenfurt Opera, the Opera Festival or on tour in Japan. Conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Marc Minkowski, Leif Segerstam or Franz Welser-Möst invited her to sing in concerts and soon, under the direction of our conductor Michael Ellis Ingram, she will embody Amneris in our AIDA.
Amneris, Cast Thebes - daughter of the Egyptian king and rival of Aida, united in love with Radames.
With Sophia Maeno we have found the perfect cast for this demanding leading role. Sophia completed her vocal studies in Dresden, Rome and Karlsruhe, paired with stays in the USA, Israel and Russia. She then rounded off her training with private lessons from the renowned vocal teacher and pedagogue Brigitta Seidler-Winkler. While still a student, Sophia sang with the SWR Vocal Ensemble before being engaged as a soloist at the Mecklenburg State Theater in her hometown of Schwerin in 2014. Since 2016, Sophia has been working as a freelance soloist for various opera houses.
Her varied vita is also reflected in her extensive repertoire. Among others, Sophia sang the role of Carmen in Bizet's work of the same name, Amneris in Verdi's "Aida", Xerxes in Handel's work of the same name, Cherubino in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro", Brangäne in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" or Octavian in Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier". In addition, Sophia works with great dedication on various song and chamber music projects and also sings orchestral songs by Hans Sommer (Dec. 2023), Edward Elgar (June 2023) or Alexander Zemlinsky (November 2022 at the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Lithuania), among others. For the NDR she dedicated herself to the rediscovery of forgotten or ostracized composers, whose works were and are heard in broadcasts at the NDR and DLF and for the continuation of which she received a scholarship from the German Music Council.
Dr. Martin Shalita
Radames, Cast Memphis - Torn by his loyalty to his fatherland, for which he goes to war against the Ethiopians, and his love for the Ethiopian king's daughter Aida.
Born in Miami/Florida, Martin Shalita earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in opera singing from the University of South Florida. He also earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami. His professional career began at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, where Martin performed in "Lady McBeth," "Don Carlos," and "Fidelio," among others. He then went to the Theater Koblenz and thrilled audiences in "Don Giovanni" and "The Magic Flute." Martin also shone in roles such as Des Grieux in Massenet's "Manon" at the Theater Nordhausen, Calaf in Puccini's "Turandot" at the Staatstheater Cottbus and Dr. Siedler in Benatzky's "Im weißen Rössl" in Zwingenberg. Verdi is also part of his repertoire - Martin sang Ismaele in "Nabucco" together with Opera Classica in Buc in France. He returned there in 2016 to play Lt. Pinkerton in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly." Martin is also a successful concert singer and has appeared on stage for and with the Bachakademie Stuttgart, the Rheinische Philharmonie or the Convivium Musicum Mainz. The two-time winner of the Salzburg "Leopolds Kron" competition has sung Schubert, Schumann and Ravel, among others, as a lieder singer. His career has already taken him all over the world and now soon to Hamburg, where he will be on stage in our AIDA as Radames (Cast Memphis).
VaShawn Savoy McIlwain
Amonasro - King of the Ethiopians, defeated and captured on the battlefield, he tries with all his might to free himself from the hands of the Egyptians. In doing so, he mercilessly abuses the love of his daughter Aida for the Egyptian army commander Radames in order to achieve his goal and escape from his enemies.
A real stroke of luck: The fantastic role of the King of Ethiopia is played by V. Savoy McIlwain aka VaShawn. V. Savoy McIlwain was born in Washington, USA, and is a graduate of the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts. After his training there, he earned an additional bachelor's degree in performance from the University of Northern Iowa and a master's degree in opera from the University of Maryland in College Park, where he also graduated from the Maryland Opera Studio. In addition to his great voice, McIlwain has such a towering stage presence that makes each of his performances a true experience.
In 2007, McIlwain was a regional finalist for an engagement at the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world's leading opera companies. His repertoire includes Marcello in Puccini's "La Bohème," Moralès in Bizet's "Carmen" and Leporello in Mozart's "Don Giovanni." McIlwain was most recently seen as Spencer Coyle in Britten's "Owen Wingrave."
Ramfis - the high priest
Andrew Nolen studied at Oberlin Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, and Juilliard Opera Center, and has also been in studio with Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Opera Theater of St. Louis. An internationally sought-after singer and performer with a broad repertoire in both opera and concert, he is ideally suited for the role of Ramfis in our AIDA.
He made his house debut at the Komische Oper Berlin in Shostakovich's The Nose, and Haydn's Creation Mass took him to New York to St. Bart's Cathedral. In 2020 he sang Basilio in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” at the Neue Oper Freiburg, and Banco in “Macbeth2 at the Mecklenburg State Theater Schwerin in 2021. In addition, numerous tours have taken him to Brussels, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Luxenburg and various times to the United States. He has recorded an album for Bridge Records and on a box set from Naxos he is the bass soloist of all Haydn masses conducted by Jane Glover.
Il Re - King of Egypt and father of Amneris, determined to win the war against the Ethiopians.
Steffen Bruun graduated from the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in June 2005 and subsequently completed an opera diploma at the Sydney Cons. of Music. He made his stage debut as the Emperor in Stravinsky's The Nightingale at the Funen Opera the same year. Later engagements have included e.g. Sarastro inThe Magic Flute, the bass roles of Monteverdis operas, Leone in Händels Tamerlano, Osmin in Entführung aus dem Serail, Comte de Grieux in Manon, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rocco in Fidelio, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Pimen in Boris Gudonov, The Mikado inThe Mikado and Bass i Saariahos Only the sound remains which took him to Teatro Real, Madrid and Rose Theatre, New York.
Furthermore he is a highly appreciated oratorio singer in the great works of Bach, Händel, Haydn and Mozart and works like Janaceks Glagolitic Mass, Verdis Requiem and Rossinis Petite Messe Solennelle.
Steffen was in January 2024 nominated as Singer of the Year in Cph Culture and is a part of the Berlin based Home Opera.
Anne Birgitte Grindhaug is a young soprano from Norway. She has a background in musical theater and cultural management and works as a freelance singer, actress and playwriter.
German Elisabeth Schmeißer from Thuringen and is a sought-after soprano in both opera and concert. Various productions have taken her among others, to the Semperoper and Theater Freiberg.
The Greek mezzo-soprano Ioulia Spanou, whose repertoire includes roles such as Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Tisbe (La Cenerentola) and Arnalta (L'incoronazione di Poppea), was most recently engaged at Theater Trier, Schauspielhaus Bochum and Kampnagel Hamburg.
After studying Opera in Paris, Vivien Lacomme Works mostly a as choir singer in Germany, in the Musiktheater im Revier in the city of Gelsenkirchen.
Joe Ashmore is a British lyric baritone and recent Masters graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He has performed across the UK including prestigious venues such as the Wigmore Hall.
Chinese tenor Shichao Cheng finished his vocals studies at the Karlsruhe University of music and has portrayed Tamino, Lenski, Ramiro on the opera stage and performed extensively in oratorios and Lieder recitals.