Inför uppsättningen av Bellinis Norma sommaren 2024 är vi glada att redan nu kunna presentera vår dirigent, Michael Balke! Han har tidigare varit hos oss och dirigerat Den Flygande Holländaren 2016 och Don Carlo 2018.

Michael Balke vinner allt större internationellt anseende. Han gästspelar ofta på operahus i Europa liksom i Japan, Sydkorea och USA. Han har också kontinuerligt samarbete med symfoniorkestrar i alla Europas storstäder.

Han var under en femårsperiod dirigent vid Magdeburg Opera och tillträdde som förste gästdirigent vid St Gallens Teater och Symfoniorkester 2018. 2020 blev han nominerad till ”årets dirigent” och ”årets mest lovande artist” av Opus Klassik Award. Kort sagt, en stordirigent med världen som arbetsfält.

What made you want to come back to Opera på Skäret?

– I have been lucky to travel the world and conduct in some of the most incredible theaters and concert halls in the last years. But there are few places that are as dear to me as Opera på Skäret. The combination of an amazing and dedicated team, artists and musicians, wonderful music, and the stunning country side just make the perfect ingredients for me to spend the perfect summer!

What are the challenges working with Bellini music? Is it very different from, for example, Giuseppe Verdi?

– Norma is one of the most important (if not THE most important) bel canto operas. Bel canto operas emphasize the art of singing, with a strong focus on the beauty and flexibility of the human voice with long melodic lines and virtuosic coloratura passages. While vocal virtuosity is a central focus, bel canto operas also prioritize dramatic storytelling. The arias and ensembles are carefully crafted to convey the emotions and conflicts of the characters. Most other operas are much more driven from the orchestra pit. So my biggest challenge (and joy!) is to create the right „bel canto sound“ with the orchestra and to carry the singers through this masterpiece.

Was it a big difference working with The Swedish Chamber Orchestra in Der Fliegende Hollander and then the freelance Orchestra in Don Carlo 2018?

– I must say that it was an enormous pleasure working with both orchestras! The Swedish Chamber Orchestra of course has a very unique sound and a brilliant culture of music-making which was very inspiring for me. The freelance orchestra that Klas – who we miss so terribly – had put together was such a joy to work with as well. Led by Jan the wonderful concertmaster, we had so many incredible individual musicians and it offered me the chance to create our very own sound and style for Don Carlo.

You are a father of three children and your wife is also a musician. How is it like to live in an artistic family and are there any challenges?

– All my kids grew up in the theatre and are used to go to operas and concerts from very early on. My youngest son just watched my performance of SALOME on my wife’s lap. Luckily he fell asleep right after Salome’s dance – missing the ”ugly” ending 🙂
My teenage girls especially enjoy opening-night parties!
The challenges of course are combining travels, performances and daily family life. But we feel blessed to have music in our lives and enjoy every moment of it.

We are really looking forward to cooperate with You again! Why should the Audience chose to come to see and listen to Norma?

– Norma is a fascinating story about the love triangle and conflict between Norma – a Druid high priestess, her secret Roman lover Pollione, and Adalgisa, a younger priestess who becomes involved with Pollione, leading to dramatic consequences in their society. Bellini set it to stunningly touching music including one of the most famous arias ever written – ”Casta diva”. Working together in the family-like setting at Skäret will give us the chance to find our very own interpretation of this moving story.

What is your favorite memory from your prior years at Skäret?

– There are too many amazing memories — for example opening my very first can of Surströmming, the wonderful colleagues in the chorus and everyone who makes this festival possible on stage and backstage, the incredible colors in the sky around midnight sitting on a boat in the middle of one of the beautiful lakes, and many more. Can’t wait to be back!!

Vi är mycket glada att hälsa Michael Balke välkommen att dirigera Norma på Opera på Skäret.