The Opera Studio Diary (2): Master Class with Brigitte Fassbaender


At the beginning of January, myself and other Opera Studio members had the wonderful opportunity to work with the famous mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. I've always admired her artistry and personality. I've listened to many recordings of Ms. B. Fassbaender and I even had the chance to work with her this summer during Bregenzer Festspiele in Austria.

I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that she was invited to give Masterclasses for members of the Opera Studio of the Bayerische Staatsoper. In my opinion, such an opportunity can be very helpful for your future development. Not only did we have the chance to work with Ms. Fassbaender, but also the opportunity to watch and listen to other singers. Here she would help address matters of singing technique and interpretation.

Group photo: André Callegaro, Anna El-Kashem, Alyona Abramova, Paula Ianic, Milan Siljanov, Selene Zanetti, Brigitte Fassbaender, Joshua Owen Mills, Niamh O’Sullivan, Olga Fedorova, Galeano Salas

I really appreciated that Ms. Fassbaender would always demonstrate various vocal exercises that can help us. Sometimes she would ask the singers to sing the aria one or two tones higher, which was both interesting to hear and really helpful for the singers to achieve the feeling of easiness while returning back to the original key. We were absolutely free to choose the repertoire that we would like to work on with Ms. Fassbaender. Some of the Opera Studio members worked not only on arias, but Lieder too. Ms. Fassbaender has sung an enormous amount of operatic repertoire as well as plenty of Lieder. Singing Lieder, in my opinion, is more about a partnership with the pianist, which allows you to focus on the musical and stylistic nuances.

I started with Ilia's recitative and aria „Quando avran fine omai?...Padre, germani…“ from W.A.Mozart's „Idomeneo, Rè di Creta“. Ms. Fassbaender was really helpful and attentive. Together we worked on both technique and interpretation. Together we worked on phrasing, that is very unique in Mozart's music and I worked with her with real joy and enthusiasm. Apart from being a legendary opera singer, Ms. Fassbaender is a person that loves our art with all her soul, and you can really notice it while working with her. She told us that we should be excited to discover our voices, and to enjoy facing professional challenges.

Brigitte Fassbaender, Olga Fedorova, Alyona Abramova
Brigitte Fassbaender, André Callegaro, Anna El-Kashem
Brigitte Fassbaender, André Callegaro, Milan Siljanov
Brigitte Fassbaender, Olga Fedorova, Selene Zanetti

One of the highlights of the Masterclass was that Ms. Fassbaender would show a very flexible range of her voice while showing some exercises. One of the things that I appreciated most about Ms. Fassbaender, was not only the way of dealing with a technical problem, but her ability to sing a particular phrase, for instance, in a soprano range. She is a very friendly and kind person and that's why I wasn't nervous about singing in front of her. Our Masterclasses with Ms. Brigitte Fassbaender are an experience to remember, and I’m really grateful to Bayerische Staatsoper for this amazing opportunity.

Anna El-Khashem


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