The Slovenian mezzo-soprano, Barbara Kozelj, studied voice and the teaching of music at the Academy for Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia. At 22, she decided to come to the Netherlands to study at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In particular vocal teacher Sasja Hunnego greatly influenced her further musical growth. She completed her Master of Music and Opera in 2005 and joined the ensemble of the De Nieuwe Opera Academie (DNOA) (where she performed the role of Metella in Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne and of Ruggiero in George Frideric Handel’s Alcina), followed by the Opera Studio Nederland. She participated in various master-classes (Ann Murray, Graciela Araya, Graham Clark, Mark Tucker and Cynthia Buchan, among others), followed by, in 2011, a series of work sessions with her absolute idol: Anne Sofie von Otter. Currently she is coached by Sasja Hunnego and Ira
Baroque music, Opera, Concert repertoire: different paths have presented themselves in the development of her career. Gifted with great flexibility, she manoeuvres with ease from one style to the next, and devotes herself with the same amount of passion to all music.
In Baroque music Barbara Kozelj has distinguished herself in various G.F. Handel roles, the Orfeo of Gluck as well as Rossi; in addition the Stabat Maters by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Antonio Vivaldi, and the Passions of J.S. Bach. Promising: in the spring of 2012 the St. Matthew’s Passion (BWV 244) is on the agenda, with Ivan Fischer and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam (her debut with this orchestra).
In opera Barbara Kozelj has performed roles by Mozart & Strauss (Page with De Nederlandse Opera), Ravel (the title role in L’enfant et les sortilèges), Britten (title role in The rape of Lucretia), Glass and Wagner (Flosshilde in Das Rheingold and Blumenmädchen in Parsifal). She is a regular guest with the Aalto Theater Essen.
Barbara Kozelj is in great demand for concert repertoire, which fits her voice extremely well. In 2011 she toured extensively throughout the Netherlands in a brilliant interpretation of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, with Holland Symfonia under the direction of Otto Tausk, and in collaboration with the Nederlands Dans Theater. Furthermore, an impressive Shéhérazade with the Nationaal Jeugd Orkest under the direction of Antony Hermus.
Lastly, Barbara Kozelj has a very strong affinity with Lieder. That has been displayed in recitals with Richard Egarr, as well with as her duo-partner Phyllis Ferwerda (in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Filharmonie in Ljubljana). In August 2012 is the release of a first CD with lieder by Joachim Raff, recorded with pianist Jan Schultz.
There are two conductors with whom Barbara Kozelj in an early stage of her career developed a special connection, and who were of great importance to her career due to their confidence and experience. Paul McCreesh embraced her in the role of the Italian Galatea, and invited her to tour with the Gabrieli Consort & Players, travelling to the most beautiful halls in Europe; it led to her debuts in Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Kozerthaus Wien. She met Richard Egarr during the DNOA production of Alcina (in the role of Ruggiero). From the first moment there was a sense of kinship: a shared need for the greatest possible freedom in making music. As a result, he invited her for performances with his own orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Other conductors with whom she has worked with include Jaap van Zweden, Gennady Rozdestvensky, Ed Spanjaard, Neeme Järvi, Stefan Soltesz, Kenneth Montgomery, Reinbert de Leeuw, Antony Hermus, Jos van Veldhoven and Ulrich Windfuhr. She has performed with virtually all Dutch orchestras.
Barbara Kozelj is looking forward to this coming spring, in anticipation of four performances in the Concertgebouw: her debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (2x), a lieder recital in the Kleine Zaal, and participating in an educational project about Russian fairy tales.