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American soprano Kathryn Lewek makes company role debut as Four Heroines in Salzburg Festival’s new production of Les contes d’Hoffmann (Aug 13–30)

Singing like Lewek’s is what the magic of opera is all about.” – New York Times, Dec 2023

(June 2024) — American soprano Kathryn Lewek makes her company role debut as all Four
Heroines in a new production of Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Salzburg Festival
(Aug 13, 16, 21, 24, 27 & 30). This tour-de-force of singing, acting, and storytelling marks the
first time in 42 years that an American singer will have undertaken all four roles at the Austrian
festival, where Lewek – best known as today’s reigning Queen of the Night – has already drawn
raves in both Ariodante and Orpheus in the Underworld.

This past spring, Lewek proved herself “radiant as the Four Heroines” (Palm Beach Daily News)
at Palm Beach Opera. South Florida Classical Review affirmed:

“It was no surprise that she would give a dazzling performance in Act 1 as the singing doll
Olympia, nailing the high notes, trills and rapid staccato passages, not just with accuracy but with
style. … She brought off the more conventional soprano roles as well. Particularly moving was her
portrayal of the doomed singer Antonia. … [In] the act’s concluding ensemble number, … the music
rose in intense waves of sound, … with Lewek’s voice soaring in ascending flights of melody.”

In Salzburg, she graces a new production of Offenbach’s opéra fantastique from the OPER!
Award-winning creative team of director Mariame Clément and designer Julia Hansen. About
their vision for the production, dramaturge Christian Arseni explains:

“Clément will explore the relationship between art and real life by linking the three ‘tales’ with
individual stages of Hoffmann’s biography as an artist. This has decisive consequences for the
female figures, or rather for the way we perceive the images that Hoffmann projects onto Stella. …
It is crucial to give these figures independent life, real identities and thus the potential to challenge
the images of femininity imposed on them.”

This is in keeping with Lewek’s own understanding of the opera. She says:

“I’m drawn to the mystery and complexity of the women. I see Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta as
three aspects of the same woman – Hoffmann’s opera-singer lover, Stella. There are many sides to
Stella. If you ask me, one of the key messages of the opera is: ‘Women contain multitudes.’”

Lewek will be joined in Salzburg by the Hoffmann of Benjamin Bernheim, who boasts “the most
beautiful tenor voice since Luciano Pavarotti” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Hailed as a “force of nature”
(San Francisco Classical Voice), mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey plays The Muse / Nicklausse, with
bass-baritone Christian Van Horn reprising his performance of the Four Villains, to which he
brings “resonant vocalism and suave, menacing presence” (Opera News). Led by Marc
Minkowski, Artistic Director of Les Musiciens du Louvre, they will be supported by the Vienna
Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus.

Previous Salzburg successes

Lewek made her Salzburg debut in 2017, starring opposite Cecilia Bartoli in Christof Loy’s
original treatment of Handel’s Ariodante. Subsequently released on DVD, the soprano’s
performance was a resounding success. Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung declared: “The real
discovery of the production is Kathryn Lewek as Ginevra. The colors that the young
American coloratura soprano unfolds … take your breath away.” Germany’s BR Klassik
stated: “Lewek is Bartoli’s equal on stage: the way her voice rises and falls at the highest
pitches and her declamatory self-sacrifice for the scene are magnificent.San Francisco
Classical Voice agreed: “They’re an ideal vocal pairing. Lewek also knows how to touch the
heart. She’s a major find.”

Two years later, Lewek was invited back to Salzburg to star in Barrie Kosky’s new production of
Orpheus in the Underworld. As Offenbach’s Eurydice, she impressed BBC Music magazine with her
jewel-like coloratura,” and, in a five-star review, BachTrack concluded: “With the role as
ravishingly sung as it was here by American coloratura Kathryn Lewek, Eurydice is without
a doubt the operetta’s leading character.

Continuing reign as Queen of the Night in Cleveland

Since making her first appearance as Mozart’s Queen of the Night in Berlin in 2011, Lewek has
sung the formidably challenging role more than 300 times, including a record-breaking 64 at New
York’s Metropolitan Opera. Her upcoming return to Salzburg follows performances in the
Cleveland Orchestra’s new, staged spring production of The Magic Flute. Anchoring “a first-rate
cast [of] singers who possess both stellar instruments and warm stage presences,” she once
again delivered as “a thrilling, spot-on Queen of the Night” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). As the New
Yorker’s Alex Ross has observed, “she executes this stratospherically difficult role better than
anyone alive.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Kathryn Lewek: company role debut at Salzburg Festival

Aug 13, 16, 21, 24, 27 & 30
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
Vienna Philharmonic / Marc Minkowski
OFFENBACH: Les contes D’Hoffmann (Stella / Olympia / Antonia / Giulietta; new production)

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© 21C Media Group, June 2024

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