Villa-Lobos is widely known as one of the most prolific and original composers of the 20th century, with an output of over a thousand works. A significant part of his production was devoted to vocal music, with an impressive contribution to the art song repertoire which still remains to be explored: Villa-Lobos left an output of around 150 art songs, ranging from settings of texts by Brazilian poets to unusual harmonizations of national folklore. Sometimes sweetly evocative, sometimes highly dramatic, each song is a snapshot of Brazilian life, posing great challenges for singers and pianists alike, from both a technical and an artistic point of view.
This program takes the listener in a journey through Brazil and its music as conceived by its greatest composer. The four pieces of the „Ciclo Brasileiro“ (1936) for solo piano provide the framework for a selection of twenty songs from different compositional periods, including selections from the colorful "Typical Brazilian Songs" and the dense "Serestas", as well as the songs from "Forest of the Amazon", Villa-Lobos' summit and summary of a whole life dedicated to Brazil and its culture.
Sonia Rubinsky was born in Brazil and lived there for the first thirteen years of her life; she later lived in Israel for seven years, then moved to New York. She gave her first concert when she was five-and-a-half years old, gave her first performance as soloist with orchestra when she was twelve, and performed for Arthur Rubinstein when she was sixteen.
Rubinsky studied with Vlado Perlemuter, Beveridge Webster, Jacob Lateiner, Olga Normanha and William Daghlian, and graduated from the Juilliard School with a Doctor of Arts degree. She has performed as a soloist or with orchestras in North America, Europe, Israel and South America. She performs regularly in Brazil, notably with the Orchestra of the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro and of São Paulo, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, the Campinas Symphony, and the São Paulo State Symphony. She has received the prestigious William Petschek Award as well as a "Best Recitalist of the Year" award from the São Paulo Association of Music Critics. She won the Carlos Gomes Prize as Pianist of the Year in 2006, and won a Latin Grammy Award, in 2009, for Best Recording of the Year for the 8th disc in a series of complete piano works of Heitor Villa-Lobos, on the Naxoslabel.
Rubinsky has recorded the complete piano works of Heitor Villa-Lobos for the Naxos label. She has also recorded music by John Adams, Debussy, Mozart and others for the Nonesuch/Elektra, Daghlian, Albany Records and Algol Editora labels.
Gabriella Pace is a two time winner of the Carlos Gomes Prize ‘Best Female Singer’ in Brazil. The second in 2010 was for her performance in ‘A Menina das Nuvens by Villa-Lobos. Gabriella has worked with distinguished conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Isaac Karabtchevsky, John Neschling, Rodolfo Fischer and Roberto Minczuk.
Among her roles are Ilia/IDEOMENEO, Pamina/DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, Susanna/LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Soer Constance/DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES, Giulietta/I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI, Adina/L’ELISIR D’AMORE, Norina/DON PASQUALE and Adele/DIE FLEDERMAUS. She has also appeared as a soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Orffs CARMINA BURANA, Mendelssohn’s LOBGESANG, Mozart’s REQUIEM, Rossini’s STABAT MATER, DIE SCHÖPFUNG, MASS IN TEMPORI BELLI and DIE JAHRESZEITEN by Haydn. With the Raga String Quartet she has sung Schoenberg’s STRING QUARTET OP. 10 NO.2
Recordings include the Requiem Ebraico by Zeisl with OSESP (Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo).
In season 17/18 Gabriella will sing the part of Adele in DIE FLEDERMAUS with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra.
Gabriella started her music and vocal studies with her father, Héctor Pace, and later on studied with Leilah Farah in São Paulo and Pier Miranda Ferraro in Milan.
Denise de Freitas stands out as an artist of great musical and scenic expressiveness. Owner of one of the most important lyric careers in Brazil today.
With performances in the most renowned houses in Brazil, such as the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Theatro da Paz in Belém, Theatro Amazonas of Manaus, Palácio das Artes in Belo Horizonte, Denise has, in its repertoire, great roles for the mezzo-soprano voice, including the title role in Carmen and La Cenerentola, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Adalgisa in Norma, Laura in La Gioconda, Charlotte from Werther, Fenena in Nabucco, Azucena in Il Trovatore , The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Fricka in The Valkyrie, Rosina (The Barber of Seville), Cherubino in Mozart's Figaro, Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann, Mère Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites, John from John and Mary, The Boy in L 'Enfant et les Sortilèges, Siebel in Faust, Principessa in Adriana Lecouvreur, Orfeo in Orfeo and Euridice, among others.
In 2016, under the rule of Maestro Fábio Mechetti, with the Belo Horizonte Philharmonic, she performedMahler's Das Lied von der Erde. .
Internationally, Denise de Freitas sang the opera Yerma de Villa-Lobos in Berlin, Paris and Lisbon; on a tour of several European cities, under the regency of Maestro Helmut Hilling was presented in Stabat Mater of Dvořak. In the opera of Bogota, he participated in the scenarios of The Weddings of Figaro, The Tales of Hoffmann and The Barber of Seville, in the above-mentioned roles.
As a concert performer, his interpretations in Mahler's symphonies and, of the same author, Kindertotenlieder and Des Knaben Wunderhorn stand out; Berlioz's Les nuits d'été; The Messiah, by Handel; Bach Magnificat; The love witch, of Falla.
Throughout his career, all these interpretations earned him three awards Carlos Gomes in 2004, 2009 and 2011. Denise de Freitas also received the Bidú Sayão Award, the MEC Radio Talents Award, was the winner of the Brazilian Song Interpretation Contest , and holder of the APCA Prize for the CD Lembrança de Amor, with compositions by Osvaldo Lacerda and Eudóxia de Barros on piano.
Licio Bruno, awarded the Carlos Gomes Award 2004 as Best Male Vocal Performer, considered by industry critics to be one of Brazil’s most prominent and sought-after interpreters of the dramatic baritone repertoire, Licio Bruno has demonstrated his versatility in various different musical genres, such as operas, operettas and musicals, missa cantata and oratorio, chamber music and symphonic repertoires.
Member of the Hungarian State Opera House opera cast for two years and later Guest Singer for 8 years consecutively, Bruno performed in La Bohème, I Pagliacci, Così Fan Tutte, Carmen and Tannhäuser.
At the 9th Annual Amazonas Opera Festival in 2005, Licio Bruno experienced an important milestone in his career when he became the first Brazilian to perform the role of the god Wotan in the historic and successful full production of Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, the first Brazilian production of this work, under the direction of Maestro Luis Fernando Malheiro and stage direction of Aidan Lang. Numerous critics pointed out the excellence of his vocal and artistic work.
In 2002, he became the first Brazilian to portray Wotan in Wagner’s Die Walküre, in the 6th Annual Amazonas Opera Festival, receiving critical acclaim for his performance.
In October 2004, with the Opera of Colombia, in Bogotá, he performed the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, by Offenbach (Lindorf, Coppelius, Miracle and Dappertutto) for the third time in his career.
Bruno’s operatic career includes stage performances in Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Colombia and Brazil, in such roles as Wolfram (Tannhäuser), Tonio (I Pagliacci), Figaro & Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Guglielmo (Così Fan Tutte) and Escamillo (Carmen), Rigoletto (Rigoletto), and The Four Villains (Tales of Hoffmann). In 2001,
Bruno performed “Prologue in Heaven”, in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofel, was Friedrich von Telramund in Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, under the musical direction of Ira Levin to high acclaim by the critics.
He sang Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Fidelio (D. Fernando) and made his debut as Jago in the new Italian-Colombian production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, at the Colón Theater in Bogotá.
Bruno sang also Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte, Otello’s Jago; Papageno in Magic Flute, and had an acclaimed debut in two main roles: Gerard from Giordano’s Andrea Chènier and Barnaba from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, in Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo. He was also President Rodrigues Alves in the world premiere from O Cientista, opera in 2 acts by the Brazilian composer Silvio Barbato.
Bruno appeared as Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro in Rio, acclaimed by critics as one of the most interesting roles he has ever made. He also performed Beethoven’s 9th in Bogotá, Colombia and São Paulo, Brazil and performed Orff’s Carmina Burana in Sala São Paulo and Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, where again critics pointed out his alternate comic, sarcastic and passionate vein. Debuted: Cav&Pag in Bogotá, Colombia and had a very special debut in the title role FALSTAFF from Verdi’s famous opera in two cities, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, Brazil. Rewiewers pointed out the maturity of Licio’s interpretation. He sung also Carlo, from Verdi’s Ernani, performed Don Annibale in Il Campanello from Donizetti and Gianni Schicchi in Vitoria and Haydn’s Oratorio “The Creation” in Municipal Theater, SP.
Licio Bruno can also be heard as a chamber musician and is a specialist in Brazilian classical song. He had duos with guitarist Nicolas de Souza Barros - with whom he has performed Brazilian repertoire extensively - and with British pianist Elizabeth Mucha, wich repertoire ranges from Schubert’s “Winterreise” through Romantic composers such as Schumann and Rachmaninov to contemporary works by English composers, Ivor Gurney and Benjamin Britten and French composers, Poulenc and Ravel. He also took part as guest singer in the XIII Rio International Cello Encounter, singing Schubert, Ivor Gurney and Mozart. He and pianist Tamás Sálgo had also performed many recitals in duo through several Hungarian cities, sponsored by Brazilian Embassy in Budapest (1997/2000)
Bruno made the first South American audition of the contemporary opera A Water Bird Talk, by Dominick Argento (his first ever operatic monologue), among many recitals and chamber concerts in Brazil and Europe.
Bruno has been heard in several cities and seasons of important orchestras in Brazil, singing Beethoven’s Missa Sollemnis, Neunte Symphonie, Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue, in Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Campos, Vitoria, Santo Andre, Brasilia, Manaus, Belém, Salvador, Bahia - Haendel’s The Messiah with Salvador Baroque Chamber Ensemble. In Rio de Janeiro, he sung Bach’s Johannes Passion with Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and with Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro Bruno sung Orff’s Carmina Burana, Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia (Bartolo), Gomes’ Guarany (Cacico), Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette (Capullet) and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (Enrico).
Bruno debuted Heitor Villa-Lobos opera “A Menina das Nuvens” in São Paulo and Puccini’s Tosca as Barone Scarpia, at Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.
Engagements for Bruno’s 25th Career Jubileum (1988-2013) included Verdi’s AIDA (Amonasro) and Wagner’s Die Walkure (Wotan) in Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rossini’s Turco in Italia with Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and Rigoletto (title role), and Falstaff (Sir. John) in São Paulo. Also Der Fliegender Holleander (title role) in Argentina (La Plata) and many symphonic concerts as Verdi’s Réquiem in Vitória, ES, Fauré’s Requiem and Carmina Burana in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro.
He’s also university teacher in 3 subjects: Singing, Ópera Performance and Diction at the Bachelor’s Singing Course from Conservatório Brasileiro de Música do Rio de Janeiro, working as Guest Professor in many Master Classes he had been given in many cities of Brazil and Colombia.