Thomas Trachsel & Carlo Balmelli

Maddalena is a work that, despite being set in the 17th century, speaks to the contemporary, especially in the way the female characters are treated.


by Bianca L. Nica
October 14, 2023
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The opera Maddalena, based on a subject by Carlo Silini, will be staged on 3, 4, 5 November 2023 at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Lugano, with music by Thomas Trachsel. The performers will be Stephanie Bühlmann, Camilla Antonini, Gianluca Zampieri, Julia Gertseva and Eugene Villanueva, the direction will be entrusted to Carlo Balmelli conducting the Civica Filarmonica di Mendrisio, the choral parts to the Coro Lirico di Lugano conducted by Andrea Cupia. The stage direction will be by Diego Bernasconi and the sets by Tobia Botta.


Carlo Balmelli is one of Switzerland's best-known conductors and heads the Stadtharmonie Zürich Oerlikon- See- bach and the Konkordia in Egerkingen, which are excellent musical ensembles. Balmelli is also a lecturer at the Con- servatorio della Svizzera italiana. His extensive musical training began in 1986 with six years of study in Professor Branimir Slokar's trombone class at the Bern Conservatory. Later (1989-1992), also at the Conservatory in the federal capital, he followed the conducting course in Dr. Ewald Körner's class. In 1995, he obtained his professional diploma as a conductor of wind orchestras at the Conservatory of Lucerne in the class of Joseph Gnos. Since 2002, he has been the head of the Mendrisio branch of the Music School of the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana. At the Scuola Universitaria di Musica in Lugano, he has been teaching trombone since 2020. In 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Stephan Jaeggi Prize, Switzerland's highest award in the field of music.

Thomas Trachsel is a freelance composer whose catalogue of works includes more than 100 pieces of various instrumentations. The musical language in his works is based on the late romantic tradition mixed with contemporary elements. Typical of his style are melancholy movements and themes, large-scale arcs of tension, powerful outbursts of sound and extremely demanding orchestration. Thematically, he usually deals with the current problems of humanity. The question of being or not being usually plays a central role. On 10 February 2007, his First Symphony for Wind Orchestra was premiered by the Stadtharmonie Zürich Oerlikon-Seebach, conducted by Carlo Balmelli, at the Tonhalle Zürich. The performances of this work by the Stadtharmonie Zürich Oerlikon-Seebach at the Mid Europe in Schladming (Austria) and by the world-famous wind orchestra La banda Sinfónica de la sociedad musical La Artística Buñol, directed by Henrie Adams, in Spain brought Thomas Trachsel great recognition as a composer.

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Dear all, we are excited to have you interviewed and learn more about Maddalena, a contemporary opera based on a subject by Carlo Silini that will be staged on November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2023, at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Lugano. What is the story of this project, and what is its aim? C.B. & […]

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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