Make it in the Mecca

Why the Berlin Opera Academy (BOA) draws every summer singers from around the world. Interview with BOA founder, General Director and Bass Mark Sampson.

AIF: What can singers expect when they undertake the effort to travel to Berlin and attend the Berlin Opera Academy?

The Canadian Bass and BOA founder Mark Sampson has been singing in musical and opera theaters in Canada and Europe. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics.

Mark Sampson: Berlin Opera Academy singers can expect to spend one intense month in Berlin working within the framework of how a typical German opera house would operate. In addition to a normal rehearsal work load, singers will be keeping up with singing lessons, coaching their role and arias with Répétiteurs, singing for masterclasses, auditioning for agents, performing in concerts, taking German language class, attending career workshops and exploring the city. They can also expect to make a new family at BOA, comprised of international peers that will soon likely be their colleagues.

AIF: How is BOA special among the many academies for singers taking place every summer around the world?

Mark Sampson: BOA is unique in its emphasis on relevant professional training. Berlin is the most operatically important city in the world and thus, filled with professionals of the highest standard. These are your instructors at BOA. You are learning directly from those who are succeeding in today’s workplace. Each of them has a parallel background in educating young singers at some of the world’s highest level universities and organisations. Our instructors have a passion for providing singers with the tools they need to succeed in the current world of opera employment. We act as a stepping stone for young singers to get further along in their personal career journey.

Find more information about the Berlin Opera Academy at

AIF: What opera productions are you planning for this year’s summer festival?

Mark Sampson: The BOA 2018 summer opera festival will include Die Fledermaus, Hänsel und Gretel, Die Zauberflöte and L’incoronazione di Poppea. Additionally there will be an Opera Gala concert series and a Lieder Abend series.

AIF: As Canadian singer you could have chosen sunnier, warmer places for the Opera Academy. Why Berlin?

Mark Sampson: What better place to develop your opera experience than in the city with the most opera performed annually in the world? This city affords singers the opportunity to work within a culture that embraces opera. The number of interesting musicians, educators, performance venues and opera-lovers is countless. This is why BOA was founded in Berlin.

AIF: How did your career path lead you to Berlin?

Mark Sampson: Berlin is sort of the Mecca for all things opera. If you want to be involved in the opera world, it felt like a no brainer to get your feet wet here. The plethora of singing teachers, coaches, conductors, theaters, opportunities and especially the singer community is what drew most of us here.

Watch a video about BOA’s work with statements by singers and instructors.








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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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