The Norwegian Soprano Mari Eriksmoen was a finalist in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in 2007, and has since built an impressive repertoire on operatic and concert stages alike. Almost immediately on completion of her vocal studies in Oslo, Paris and Copenhagen, Eriksmoen was offered to sing Zerbinetta in Theater an der Wien’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, which marked the start of a close relationship with this major theatre. As a confident and versatile concert singer, Eriksmoen is often invited to sing Solveig in Grieg’s Peer Gynt. Current season opera highlights include company debuts at both Bayerische Staatsoper and at Savonlinna Opera Festival as Blondchen.
Photo © Mari Eriksmoen
Braaten is a répétiteur at the Academy of Opera in Oslo and an accompanist at the Norwegian Academy of Music. She is returning to the Queen Sonja International Music Competition as a highly-regarded accompanist both for singers and instrumentalists. She has won prizes for chamber music performances and as a solo pianist, including the first prize in the Nordic Lied Duo Competition. Braaten has her tenth anniversary with QSIMC this year, as she joins the competition as an accompanist for the fifth time.
Photo © Johanna Sterner
The popular television and radio journalist Mari Lunnan has 25 years’ experience from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and will be the compère of the competition’s final concert at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. She hosts the programmes ‘Ring inn Musikken’ and ‘Musikkmosaikk’ on NRK’s classical music radio station, where she presents new releases, concerts and interviews with leading Norwegian and international artists. Lunnan also hosts the musical TV-show ‘Orkestersofa’, a collaboration between NRK Klassisk and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. She also holds a degree in singing from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and currently sings in the Oslo Cathedral Choir.
The Norwegian National Opera Orchestra
The Norwegian National Opera Orchestra was established in 1827 and is among thetop orchestras in Norway. During opera and ballet performances, you may hear them from the orchestra pit, but in recent seasons the orchestra has also performed its own, independent concerts on stage. The Opera Orchestra is adept at creating the perfect framework for any opera performance and will accompany the competition’s finalists in the grand final concert on Friday 23 August.
Photo © Erik Berg
Since 2009, Risto Joost has been the conductor in residence at the Estonian National Opera. He has conducted at several internationally acclaimed operas and has gained widespread recognition for his work both in the opera pit and on the concert stage. His repertoire ranges from Baroque to the most challenging works of contemporary composers. In 2019, the music editors of the Estonian Broadcasting Company nominated Risto Joost as the Estonian musician of the year. He also won the Malko Conducting Competition in 2015 and the Jorma Panula Conducting Competition in 2012. Joost will be conducting the Queen Sonja International Music Competition’s final concert at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.
Photo © Mait Jüriado
Stefan Herheim was born in Oslo and began directing operas with his own puppet theatre when he was six years old. Today, he is Norway’s most famous opera director. He is holding a masterclass in stagecraft as part of this year’s competition programme. Herheim’s international career reflects his innovative approach to opera, and his continuous wish to renew and vitalise the old art form of opera makes him highly relevant. He has taught as a visiting lecturer at several European academies and he inspires and challenges opera students to meet the demands of tomorrow.
Photo © The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
The South-Korean soprano Sumi Jo is the highest-selling classical singer in the world, with over 50 CD recordings. She has earned praise for the remarkable agility, precision and warmth of her voice, and for her outstanding musicianship. Her performances include concerts at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the International Olympic Games in Beijing and the Pyeongchang Paralympics Winter Games, where she is an honorary ambassador. Sumi has consistently been greeted with exceptional praise, from the public and press alike, for performances in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world. She celebrated her 30th anniversary of her international opera debut in the 2016-2017 season.
Photo © Youngho Kang
Sveinung Bjelland is one of Norway’s leading classical pianists. He teaches at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and at the University of Kristiansand. His recording of Scarlatti and Mendelssohn sonatas received international acclaim and was nominated for the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannsprisen) in 2006. This was followed by numerous other recordings. His latest album, which was released in June 2018 and consists of concertos by Chopin and Schumann, has already received outstanding reviews. Bjelland has made a name for himself as an extraordinarily multifaceted pianist. He is much in demand, both as a concert soloist with the leading Norwegian orchestras and as a chamber musician throughout the world.
Photo © Julia Granberg
Victoria Bomann-Larsen works as stage director at the Norwegian Opera. She started her career at Mainfrankentheater in Würzburg, Germany, where she assisted such names as Hermann Schneider, Bernhard Stengele and Nada Kokotovic. Since she moved back to Oslo in 2010, she has assisted Stefan Herheim, Calixto Bieito, Tatjana Gürbaca and Annilese Miskimmon among others, and has also been responsible for many revivals of big in-house productions. She is one of four founders of Femte Rad Produksjoner, and initiated, produced and directed the world premiere of Simon by Gerhard Stäbler in 2015. She also frequently teaches and directs at the Academy of Opera in Oslo.