Gunilla Stephen

Gunilla Stephen

Dramatic/Heroic Soprano

"She sings with the power of both God and the Devil"
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2006Wagner: GötterdämmerungBrünnhilde
2005Wagner: Tristan Und IsoldeIsolde
2003Prokofiev: The Fiery AngelRenata
2003Strauss R.: Ariadne Auf NaxosAriadne
2001Strauss R.: ElektraElektra
2001Beethoven: FidelioLeonore
2000Wagner: Tristan Und IsoldeIsolde
1998Wagner: Die WalküreBrünnhilde

Bio


Gunilla was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, and is of swedish/uighur origin.

She started singing and playing the piano early, and studied at Adolf Fredriks School of Music. During her teenage years, she sang in many of Stockholms choirs, but at the age of 17, she started discovering her own voice, and the many possibilities to express herself by creating different characters. The step into the opera world was not long.

She studied at the University of Theatre and Opera in Göteborg ( as a mezzo soprano)1983-86, and already in 1985, she was given the opportunity to sing at the Staatsoper in Berlin, giving her debut there as the Third Lady in "Die Zauberflöte". She returned to Berlin after finishing her studies in Göteborg, and stayed there until 1990, singing many of the smaller/medium sized roles for a young singer, such as Hänsel, Dryade, Annina, der Sandmann, ein Brautjungfer (Freischútz), eine nackte Jungfer (Moses und Aron), and others.

During this time, she met her husband, who was a Swedish diplomate. They married and got two children and moved around Europe for a couple of years. After the birth of their second child, Gunillas voice began to change, giving her a bigger register and a curiosity and a longing to explore longer and more complex roles.

The first chance came in 1998, with Brünnhilde in "Die Walküre" in the small theatre of Karlstad in Värmland, Sweden. Her interpretation was a huge success and gave her the prestiguous Opera Prize of Svenska Dagbladet in 1999.

The following years was filled with all the big roles for a dramatic soprano, such as Isolde, Elektra, Leonore/Fidelio, Ariadne, Renata (the Fiery Angel), and all three Brünnhildes. She sang in Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö, Glyndebourne, Dalhalla, Stuttgart, Toronto a.o.

She has also been directing and teaching at the Stockholm University of Opera. She directed the first performance of the chamber opera "Aquilegia", with music by Gustav Lindsten, in 2017, and also scenes from Strauss´ Elektra, with herself singing Elektras´part. 

Currently, she is teaching lyrical diction in German opera repertoire at the University of Opera.
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CV & Repertoire

Musical Work Role Jump-in ready? Company Year
Wagner: Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde 1 week Canadian Opera Company (Toronto) 2006
Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde Isolde 1 week Staatstheater Stuttgart und Staatsorchester Stuttgart 2005
Prokofiev: The Fiery Angel Renata No Royal Opera Stockholm 2003
Strauss R.: Ariadne Auf Naxos Ariadne No Malmö Opera 2003
Strauss R.: Elektra Elektra 1 week Royal Opera Stockholm 2001

Awards

Svenska Dagbladets operapris
2018