Earning first prize unanimously at the CNSMD in Paris in the class overseen by Jane Berbié, Sophie Koch made her debut in France, but her career took off internationally when she performed as Rosina in the Barbiere di Siviglia and Dorabella in Così fan tutte at Covent Garden in London and as composer of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Semperoper in Dresden. After establishing herself in Mozart roles, she added to her repertoire French, Italian and German opera: Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier), Charlotte (Werther), Adalgisa (Norma), Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde), Concepcion (The Spanish Hour), Mère Marie de l’Incarnation (Dialogues des Carmélites), which she recently performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and at Covent Garden in London, Fricka (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre), the title roles of Mignon by Ambroise Thomas and Cleopatra by Massenet, Margared (Le Roi d’Ys), Adriano (Rienzi).
She performs on the greatest lyrical stages (Vienna Staatsoper, La Monnaie in Brussels, Teatro Real in Madrid, Capitol in Toulouse, Operas in Zurich, Geneva, Berlin, Dresden, Chicago, Salzburg Festival). She performed the complete Ring cycle at the Paris Opera and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and made her New York Metropolitan Opera debut in 2014 as Charlotte. She has given numerous recitals (Salzburg, Vienna Musikverein, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Luxembourg, Brussels, Madrid). She has recorded German lieder from Wolf, Schubert, Strauss, Wellesz and Bloch, Peer Gynt, Manon and the opera Elephant Man by Laurent Petitgirard, excerpts from Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Antonio Pappano, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Kent Nagano, a Schumann recital (Myrten), Chausson’s Le Poème de l’amour et de la mer, Ravel’s Scheherazade, Berlioz Herminie’s cantata as well as DVDs of Der Rosenkavalier (Decca), Ariadne auf Naxos (Festival de Baden-Baden, DGG) and Werther (Opéra national de Paris, Decca). She received the Christel Goltz Prize, awarded by the Semperoper of Dresden.
Didier Laclau Barrère
Didier Laclau-Barrère began studying piano at the age of 5 with Ada Cecchi-Labèque, mother of Marielle and Katia and herself a pupil of Marguerite Long. He continued with his studies until the age of 16. After his literary baccalaureate, he was admitted to Sciences-Po Toulouse and jointly studying modern literature and law, he completed his studies with a doctorate in the history of law which allowed him to be a teacher-researcher at the Université des Sciences-sociales in Toulouse and speaker at the Institute of Political Studies for the course “Literature and Politics”. At the same time, he began singing lessons in 1997 with Mary Downing, American soprano, and in 1999 after a stint with Mady Mesplé, he studied with Jane Berbié. He participated in several productions as Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte, Masetto, Leporello and the title role in Don Juan, Figaro in the Marriage of Figaro and also some Zarzuelas as well as several concerts and melody recitals. But it is above all the technical aspect of singing that interests him most, in particular the acquisition and mastery of breathing, which he makes the cornerstone of his teaching. As such, since 2011, he has devoted himself to teaching singing. He teaches in France, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Vienna, Tokyo and Salzburg.
Many of the artists who worked with him have made a very good career or promising debuts: Sophie Koch (his wife), Nicolas Courjal (bass), Joan Martin-Royo (Spanish baritone), Julien Véronèse (French bass baritone), Philippe Estèphe (baritone), Philippe-Nicolas Martin (Baritone), Matthieu Toulouse (bass), Pierre-Emmanuel Roubet (tenor), Rupert Grössinger (Austrian bass-baritone), Maité Maruri (Spanish mezzo-soprano), Lucile Verbizier (French mezzo-soprano), Céline Laborie (Soprano), Charlotte Despaux (Soprano), François Pardailhé (tenor), François Almuzara (tenor)… Since January 2014, Didier Laclau-Barrère has been working with the great master Michel Plasson as part of his Académie internationale de musique française as General Delegate and teacher of vocal technique. In September 2020, he joined the isdaT as a singing teacher.
Teaching programme of the vocals class
The three year programme in singing at the isdaT allows on one hand a perfection of the styles by approaching the plurality of the latter as a technical and musical asset. It assumes a very good command of the languages sung. On the other hand, the element of a “professional pedagogy” is the primary focus and forms the basis for the preparation for professional auditions in accordance with the expected requirements. Finally, emphasis is placed on the “theatrical dimension” of the training: physical and intellectual assimilation of the roles, role-playing, in particular for the final exam with theater classes and an internship with the Théâtre du Capitole choir during an opera production.
A 1 hour and 15 minute singing class is divided into two parts: 30 minutes of technique with the teacher and 45 minutes with the conductor. This course allows students to build up their own repertoire in accordance with the objectives set at the beginning of the program. Throughout the course, the student performs in recitals and during the end-of-year evaluations.
Within a higher education institution, the vocals class aims to acquire the prerequisites for professional integration and further study towards a master’s degree in interpretation. In this sense, one of its fundamental principles will be to guarantee the mastery of a certain number of technical criteria. Namely:
- The “height” of the emission or the necessity to ensure a singing line from the “top” to allow the best possible verticality of the singing and thus an optimal apprehension of the line from top to bottom.
- The correlative requirement is that of maintaining a necessarily open throat so as not to hinder the quality of the emission.
- The same applies to the use of resonators which must always be open, specifically by not closing the nasal cavities.
- The best definition of vowels.
- An assimilation of the song in the body: posture, taking the breath at the level of the ribs with opening of the back and a “letting go” which will guarantee a song with “effort in relaxation”.
- The mastery of a song sitting on the breath and not with the breath, arguably the most pedagogically sensitive and difficult aspect to transmit. However, its mastery is the keystone of a healthy and serene song. It is based on the assimilation of a certain number of exercises that will be systematically practised for about 30 minutes in each section. It partly determines the ability to be able to “sing the consonants” and thus to favour the “harmonic” to the only manufactured sound. This last criterion is undoubtedly the most essential in order to avoid “pushing”.