A Baritone’s Love for Sauerkraut and Chiaroscuro

In his career, Lyric Baritone Stephen John Svanholm has criss-crossed the continent and music genres alike. In part one of his portrait, a questionnaire explains the artist; in part two, the artist will explain his latest undertaking, the website The Opera Stage.


Your name:
Stephen Svanholm

From where?
Born in Durham, England, brought up in County Durham (England), Stockholm (Sweden) and Newport, Pembrokeshire (Wales)

Where based?

Your Fach?
Lyric Baritone

When have you been in Berlin?
I lived in Berlin from March 2014 to September 2017. (minus a few work periods in the UK)

Two things you like about Berlin:
The creativity, which is to be seen everywhere from street art, crafts, use of space, and music. And also the liberal attitudes to just about any lifestyle imaginable.


Two things you don’t like about Berlin:
Dog poop on the pavements. Other stuff on the pavements.

Your favourite role:
Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Your hero in opera:
Franco Corello for the visceral impact of his singing

Your hero in real life:
Elon Musk

Your favorite quality in a singer:

Best opera production you saw in Germany:
Die Zauberflöte at Komische Oper Berlin

Craziest opera production you saw in Germany:
Rheingold at Staatsoper Berlin

Your biggest career change:
From heavy metal guitarist to opera singer

Your newest project:
The Opera Stage’s expansion with a new website.

Your favourite German word:
Sauerkraut (which is also my favourite German thing)

Read next week: AIF’s interview with Stephen Svanholm about his website The Opera Stage that helps singers to manage their career.




Published by


Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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