The German mezzo-soprano, Cornelia Kallisch, began her musical career as instrumentalist with violin and piano before fully concentrating on singing. She studied a.o. with Josef Metternich and graduated at the opera studio of the Bavarian State Opera. Other teachers of hers were Siglind Bruhn and especially Anna Reynolds who was of great influence to her artistic development.
A rich concert activity in particular as a Lieder singer followed prizes. Cornelia Kallisch won 1st places in several international competitions. At the beginning of her career, she focused on oratorios of J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel and W.A. Mozart as well as on lied singing. A number of CD releases, amongst them songs of Dvorak, Gustav Mahler and Franz Liszt together with pianist Gabriel Dobner for Dabringhaus und Grimm, document this work.
Since 1991 Cornelia Kallisch has been engaged by the Zürich Opera House. As a permanent member this opera house, she has increasingly devoted herself to the operatic repertoire. Having started out performing all breeches parts from W.A. Mozart (Dorabella and Annio), through Wagner (Kundry) to Strauss (Octavian and Composer). She meanwhile has established a strong reputation with more dramatic roles like Wagner's Brangäne, Fricka and Waltraute as well as roles in rare works like Zemlinsky’s Der Kreidekreis (Yü Pei), Glinka’s Aus dem Leben des Zaren Susanin (Wanja) and Mussorgsky’s Chowanschtschina (Marfa). One of her favourite roles is Judith in Béla Bartók's Blue Beard Castle, which she sang under Christoph von Dohnányi in Zürich, London, Paris, Cleveland and New York. She performed this role not only in numerous international stagings, but also recorded with the SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart under Péter Eötvös (Hänssler). Beside Christoph von Dohnányi were particularly the conductors Michael Gielen, Lorin Maazel, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Franz Welser Möst, who promoted her in co-operation.
Being a very experienced and committed performer of contemporary music, it is above all Heinz Holliger, whose work fascinates Cornelia Kallisch: The premiere of his Trakl songs and above all the role of the Queen in his acclaimed first opera Schneewittchen were a great success. She appeared in the world premieres of this opera, of HK Gruber’s opera Der Herr Nordwind, both in Zürich, as well as Boesmann's A Winter's Tale in Brussels and Barcelona. More recent highlights included a new staging of Arabella at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as well as Der Ring des Nibelungen, Pelléas und Mélisande, Peter Grimes, Gianni Schicchi, Eugen Onegin, Parsifal and Adelaide (Arabella) at the Zürich Opera. This season, Cornelia Kallisch will sing in Zürich amongs others Madelon (Andrea Chernier), Margaretha (Genoveva) and Fricka (Das Rheingold).
Cornelia Kallisch’s late 1990's accommodations were with works of Franck, Zemlinsky, G. Mahler, Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Schmidt. In 1999 she was Brangäne with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester under Lorin Maazel in the Prince Theater of Munich and for the premiere of Boesman's A Winter Fairy Tale as a guest at the opera of Brussels. Further performances follow in November 2000 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
In past seasons Cornelia Kallisch has appeared with leading conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph von Dohnányi, Iván Fischer and Adam Fischer, Michael Gielen, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, Kent Nagano, Roger Norrington, Helmuth Rilling, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Welser-Möst, and with renowned orchestras, including the Münchner Philharmoniker and Berliner Philharmoniker, all German radio orchestras, the Wiener Philharmoniker, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra and Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. In 2005 she was the soloist in Hartmann’s 1st Symphony at the opening of the Kunstfest Weimar. As a concert singer, Cornelia Kallisch focuses on the romantic lied repertory and contemporary music (Max Reger, Wagner, Arnold Schoenberg, Holliger). She is especially devoted to the works of G. Mahler and recorded his 2nd and 3rd Symphonies, both with the SWF Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden under Michael Gielen and with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Armin Jordan as well as Das Lied von der Erde under Franz-Welser Möst for EMI. Apart from her opera engagements, this season she is going to follow invitations to the Lucerne Festival with the Bamberger Symphoniker (Das Rheingold), to the Collegium Novum under Heinz Holliger as well as to the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle (L.v. Beethoven's 9th Symphony).
Cornelia Kallisch teaches and gives master-classes herself.
Cornelia Kallisch's numerous recordings include Franck’s Les Béatitudes and Zemlinsky’s Maeterlinck Lieder with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Armin Jordan. For EMI, she recorded Hartmann's Symphony No. 1 with the Bamberger Symphoniker under the direction of Ingo Metzmacher and Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Franz Schmidt's Buch mit den sieben Siegeln and F. Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart and the Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart under Helmuth Rilling as well as L.v. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis under Roger Norrington have been released by Hänssler classics. The Meistersinger under Wolfgang Sawallisch was distinguished with the Grammy. She has two CD's of Lieder with Gabe Dobner at the piano.