“Neue Stimmen” – Springboard to a Successful Career

Photos: Arne Weychardt
Five years after finishing sixth at the “Neue Stimmen” International Singing Competition, Christiane Karg has outgrown the role of rising star. “It’s a good feeling,” she says. 

It all began with “Neue Stimmen.” Even then, Christiane Karg knew the importance of believing in herself and going her own way. After roles at major opera houses, acclaimed performances at festivals and two successful recordings, she has matured from a talented young singer to a well-known star – one with her feet firmly on the ground.

No, Christiane Karg didn’t win the first prize at the 2007 “Neue Stimmen” competition. She took sixth place, which promptly started her down the path toward a successful career. It’s rare for singers from Germany to place so well in international singing competitions. “We Germans tend to be at a disadvantage in such situations,” she later remarked. “The performers from South America, for example, have a vocal quality that is warmer. Their voices are larger and have a different tone. Of course we all want to sing the major Italian operas, but there are few Germans who can. And certainly not right off the bat.” On more than one occasion, she has declined such roles, usually when someone is trying to persuade her against her better judgment.

Going her own way

Instead, she deliberately went her own way by seeking out “her” roles: as a member of the Frankfurt Opera ensemble, as a guest at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Comic Opera in Berlin, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien and Dresden’s Semper Opera. And as a soloist, performing with orchestras such as the Staatskapelle Dresden, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. She has also graced many festivals, singing the opening concert at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Lübeck and the Styriarte in Graz as well as concerts for example at the Salzburg Festival,the Edinburgh Music Festival, Wigmore Hall in London and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.

She has long outgrown the role of a rising artist. “At first you get a lot of attention, but you’re not really taken seriously,” she says. “After you turn 30, you have to position yourself differently, assert yourself. Now you’re somebody, you’re sought after as an artist.”

Home is everywhere

In 2013 Karg decided to work independently: “I know myself very well. I need new challenges all the time, and I’m not a person who can stay in one place forever. I want to travel, be in charge of my own life.”

In her profession, she says, putting down roots is not an easy matter. Her apartment in Frankfurt is more like a way station – the place where she unpacks her suitcase and does her laundry before packing up again. Yet that hardly means Karg leads a solitary life. “I’ve found that I’m quite happy wherever I am as long as I have certain things that are important to me: a swimming pool, for example, and a place to go running. When I arrive in a new city, I look for those things, and soon feel quite at home. I have friends everywhere, and I can always visit them” (Christiane Karg).

Always grounded

She does have roots in Feuchtwangen, Bavaria, where her family owns a café in a former monastery. “The only place I can really power down is at home with my family, where it’s all about my sister, not me. She takes center stage there – and I love it,” Karg admits. Her younger sister Michaela is an expert chocolatière whose creations have won national and international awards. For the singer, a visit home means enjoying the lovely house and its garden, but also taking a turn behind the counter now and then. “It’s a family business, and my sisters and I have helped out since we were little,” she says. When all is said and done, the star soprano’s life clearly suggests that success doesn’t have to make you a different person or change the connections that matter most.

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This is Christiane Karg:
Soprano Christiane Karg studied voice at the Salzburg Mozarteum. After spending time at the Music Conservatory in Verona, Italy, she graduated from the Mozarteum with a master’s degree in opera and musical theater studies, receiving the Lilli Lehmann Medal. After an engagement at the Hamburg Opera Studio, in 2008 Karg joined the ensemble of the Frankfurt Opera, where she sang major roles. In 2009, the magazine “Opernwelt” named her “Young Performer of the Year” and in 2010, she won the renowned Echo Klassik award for her CD “Verwandlung – Lieder eines Jahres” (Metamorphosis – A Year of Lieder). She has performed as a guest singer at numerous opera houses, for example the Bavarian State Opera, the Comic Opera in Berlin, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien and the Opéra de Lille. Currently she sings at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. At the end of the year she will also perform in Vienna, Rome and Munich.
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