Golda Schultz promises to be the hottest ticket of this summer’s festival

Soprano Golda Schultz is internationally recognised as one of today’s most talented and versatile artists.  She makes her Buxton debut this year, in one of the Festival’s most highly anticipated events.  BIF’s CEO Michael Williams remembers working with Golda in South Africa at the start of her career and reflects on her rise to fame.  He also shares his insights on why her performance in Buxton will be one of the hottest tickets of the summer:

In 2007, an ostensibly routine student production, presented by Cape Town Opera in association with the University of Cape Town Opera School, was poised for its opening night when something extraordinary occurred. The opera in question was Puccini’s La rondine, directed by Angelo Gobbato and conducted by Kamal Khan. It featured two student sopranos, Golda Shultz and Pretty Yende who shared the lead role of Magda de Civry, the ‘swallow’ yearning to fly south in search of love and happiness.

With only two orchestral rehearsals remaining, a crucial decision loomed: Which of the two sopranos would be entrusted with the opening night performance? Pretty boasted a rich, warm voice and impeccable technique, while Golda commanded dramatic intensity, vocal agility, and profound emotive power, leaving both the conductor and the director unable to choose between them. After a lengthy, late-night conversation, they finally reached an agreement: Pretty would sing the first opening night, and Golda would sing the second opening night. The reviewers would be fairly split, and two bouquets were ordered for the final bows.

Receiving one standing ovation is special, but receiving two on consecutive nights is astonishing. As triumphant as Pretty was, so too was Golda. The two sopranos captivated the audience, and I had never witnessed such immediate acclaim for unknown students before. And such has been the case for these two exceptional singers ever since that season.

When Golda graduated she joined Cape Town Opera Studio singers and sang Hansel & Gretal and starred in Athol Fugard’s Valley Song, winning a Kanna Award for her performance. I remember her ebullience, her can-do attitude, and it was clear to me that like the swallow, Golda was destined to fly south. She successfully auditioned for the prestigious Juilliard School in the US and subsequently won a place to study with Edith Bers. Her career was super charged by her training at Juilliard and Bayerische Staatsoper’s Opernstudio and she is now internationally hailed as one of today’s most talented and versatile artists; as at home in leading operatic roles as she is as featured soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras and conductors. Unanimously praised for her ​“warmth of tone and sensitivity of phrasing”, Golda found immediate success on both sides of the Atlantic through early operatic appearances like Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) at Salzburger Festspiele, Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) at the Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Staatsoper.

Growing up in South Africa, she was always interested in music, listening to everything from pop and folk to revolutionary and classical genres. She sang in choirs and took lessons in piano and violin. I know her to be fiercely independent and keenly intelligent when approaching her operatic roles or a program of lieder. Here’s what she feels about song-making: “Because a song is a universe in a few minutes. That universe is filled with only you and the piano. You have to fill it so that your audience has a full experience. With an opera role you always know there are moments where your character is not really in the foreground of the story. You can take a break. But when you’re doing songs, you’re leading the charge at all times. You are the general and you are the soldier on the ground.”

From her base in Germany Golda has conquered the world’s opera houses and concert halls, from the Vienna State Opera to the Salzburg Festival; and from La Scala, Milan, to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, to name but four. Next month she will be making her Royal Opera House debut in the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte.  And soon after, you’ll have the chance to experience Golda’s performance yourself at the Buxton Opera House on 8 July. If you haven’t secured your seats yet, there’s still time, click here for tickets.

Michael Williams, CEO Buxton International Festival

Michael Williams asked the opera critic Mike Wheeler to write a personal note on Golda’s choice of programme:

Golda Schultz and Gary Matthewman’s recital includes songs by two of the acknowledged giants of the German lieder tradition, Schubert, and Strauss, plus two whose songs may be less central to that tradition, but which are well worth exploring.

Mozart’s career largely pre-dated the flowering of German lyric poetry which gave Schubert (and others) so much material to work with, but he composed some delightful songs. Golda and Gary’s programme includes the charming love-song ‘An Chloë’ (To Chloe).

Schubert hit his maturity as a song-writer with another of their choices, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (Gretchen at the spinning wheel). His portrait of a young girl unsettled by her first love shows remarkable psychological insight for a composer just seventeen years old. Their Schubert group also includes the delightful ‘Suleika’ I and II, in which the singer imagines, first, the east wind bringing greetings from her lover, then asking the west wind to take hers back to him.

Clara Schumann was one of the great pianists of her generation, and her compositions are becoming widely known, including several songs and solo piano pieces, and her superb Piano Trio. ‘Liebst du um Schönheit’ (If you love for beauty’s Sake) sets words by Friedrich Rückert. You may have come across Mahler’s setting of the same words, one of his Five Rückert Lieder.

Richard Strauss not only loved soprano voices, but he also married the owner of one. Golda and Gary perform his Four Songs, Op 27, his wedding-present to Pauline, ending with one of the great songs in the German repertoire, ‘Morgen!’ (Tomorrow!), a breathtakingly lovely note for this recital to end on.