ISABEL REY – soprano
Born in Valencia, she began her musical training at the age of six with Pepe Doménech Part, going on to join the “Pequeños Cantores de Valencia” (Little Singers of Valencia) group two years later. She began to study singing in the conservatoire of her home city with Ana Luisa Chova, graduating with honours for exceptional ability. She continued her training with Tatiana Menotti and Juan Oncina, as well as taking master classes with Alfredo Kraus, Montserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto and Ileana Cotrubas.
After winning the Bilbao International Singing Competition – among other competitions – Rey debuted in the lead role of La Sonnambula (Bellini) in 1987, beginning a career which has established her as one of the most important performers of her generation. Her international debut came in 1988 with Les contes d’Hoffmann (Olympia) in the Lieja Opera House, Belgium, and the production then toured Russia. The following year she went on stage at the Vienna Konzerthaus for the first time, appearing in Mozart´s Exsultate, Jubilate, and she returned to Vienna the year after to sing in the rarely performed Ascanio in Alba, also by Mozart. It was then that she appeared in the Teatro de La Zarzuela, Madrid in Ilia´s Idomeneo , returning immediately to Vienna to sing in Handel´s Oratorio, Saul.
It was her Susanna in Mozart´s Le nozze di Figaro in the Amsterdam Opera House in 1993, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, which brought her to the attention of the media. She was hailed as one of the “young stars of the international opera scene”, which opened up the doors of the principal opera houses in Europe to her.
Two years earlier, in 1991, she was a soloist in the Zurich Opera House, and she has remained loyal to the company ever since. She has debuted the majority of her repertoire there: Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro ), Gilda (Rigoletto), Servilia (La clemenza di Tito), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Nannetta (Falstaff), Morgana (Alcina), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Zerlina and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Marie (La Fille du régiment), Carolina (Il matrimonio segreto), Norina (Don Pasquale), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) and Amelia (Simon Boccanegra), always alternating her performances of opera with numerous recitals, concerts and oratorios around the world.
In 1993 she debuted in the Alfredo Kraus Opera Festival in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (her city of residence) with L´elisir d´amore, alongside Roberto Alagna and Carlos Alvarez. She now habitually performs in this event in operas such as Les contes d’Hoffmann (Olympia and Antonia), Don Pasquale, Falstaff, Die Zauberflöte, Les pêcheurs de perles, Idomeneo and The Rake’s Progress.
A new production of Nozze di Figaro in the Lausanne Opera House and a new debut as Marie in La Fille du régiment took up part of 1995, finishing with two concerts of Beethoven´s Ninth Symphony in the Auditorio Nacional, Madrid and a Christmas concert in Vienna as well as a New Year´s concert in Germany with José Carreras, with whom she has collaborated regularly since 1993. In 1996 Isabel Rey took the lead in new productions of Le nozze de Figaro (recorded on DVD) and Il matrimonio segreto, as well as opening the Salzburg Festival with the oratorio Jephta by Händel. That same year she debuted in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw alongside Ton Koopman and after that came her first performances in Don Pasquale, Così fan tutte, Il Mondo della luna (Haydn), Der Schauspieldirektor (on tour in Europe with Harnoncourt) and Alcina, as well as giving a recital of Spanish songs in the Lausanne Opera House and in a Gala in Hamburg alongside Agnes Baltsa and José Carreras.
1998 began with her debuts in the Teatro Real, Madrid and in the Staatsoper, Vienna, wowing both theatres with her unparalleled Susanna. She then returned to Las Palmas and, after two performances of Mozart´s Requiem in Lausanne (conducted by López Cobos), in May she sang her first Lucia di Lammermoor alongside the legendary Alfredo Kraus. After performing in Le Roi David (Honegger) and Armida in the Graz Festival, She sang Mahler´s Fourth Symphony with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra and Víctor Pablo Pérez. In the same year she appeared twice in the Salzburg Festival, in Il Martirio di San Lorenzo and in Exsultate, Jubilate, before playing Musetta to great acclaim in the Teatro Real (Madrid) and Ilia in A Coruña.
In 1999 she appeared as Adele in Fledermaus in the opening of the Wiener Festwohen, Vienna, which was recorded live by the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Company), before returning to sing her exemplary Susanna in the Mozart Festival in A Coruña. The following year she added the role of Sophie from Der Rosenkavalier and Leïla from Les pêcheurs de perles to her repertoire. She returned to Bilbao with Idomeneo, gave a concert with Carreras and Jaime Aragall in the Castell de Peralada Festival, sang in Le nozze di Figaro again in the Staatsoper, Vienna and finished the year with three Christmas concerts with the Gran Canaria Philharmonic.
She performed the role of Donna Anna for the first time in Zurich in 2001, conducted by Harnoncourt in an acclaimed production of Don Giovanni recorded on DVD. She returned to the Teatro Real with Rigoletto, she debuted in La Finta Giardiniera in the Nice Opera House, sang Così fan tutte in Vicenaza and performed in the Edinburgh Festival accompanied by Andras Schiff, as well as singing Die Schöpfung conducted by Josep Pons.
In 2002 she played Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, debuted as Micaëla in Carmen, performed in a new production of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (recorded on DVD) and toured in Japan giving recitals. The following year she had one of the biggest successes of her career with Händel´s Il trionfo del tempo e il disinganno, she gave a recital in Las Palmas for the Philharmonic Society and another in London, she sang Rameau´s Les Indes Galantes, debuted in Montecarlo with Don Pasquale, she returned to Japan to give various recitals and ended the year with two galas in the Teatro Real. In 2004 she added four new roles to her repertoire: Tigrane from Radamisto (Händel), Blanche from Dialogues des carmélites (Poulenc), Melisande from Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy) and King Arthur (Purcell), which was performed in the Salzburg Festival and is also on DVD.
IsabelRey is especially interested in the world of teaching and promoting opera and she gave her first master class in the Las Palmas Conservatoire and at the Zumaia international course and festival (Guipuzcoa) in 2005, as well as debuting in The Rake´s Progress and making a third concert tour in Japan.
In most recent seasons she has sung in the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (Le portrait de Manon and a Händel concert) and in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia; she has debuted the role of Rosina in La Finta Semplice in the Teather an der Wien, conducted by Fabio Luisi, Le Cid by Massenet, Königskinder by Humperdinck (alongside Jonas Kauffmann) in Zurich, Händel´s Semele (with Cecilia Bartoli and brought out on DVD by Decca) as well as a triumph in the same theatre with her first Amelia (Simon Boccanegra).
As well as her unstoppable opera career in the seven languages in which she sings, she also sings Lieder, a discipline which she took up from a very young age and which has led her to take part in some of the most prestigious events dedicated to the genre in Europe. Her interest in poetry has resulted in the publication of a book of her writings, some of which have been set to music by the composers Antoni Parera and Antón García Abril.
As well as the aforementioned Semele, outstanding DVDs of her performances include Don Giovanni (Donna Anna), Las Bodas de Fígaro (Susana), Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Minerva), King Arthur, La Finta Giardiniera (all conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt), Pelléas et Mélisande with Franz Welser-Möst and Don Pasquale, alongside Juan Diego Flórez and conducted by Nello Santi, as well as a varied discography, such as a recital with the guitarist Ichiro Suzuki, another called Canciones para la Navidad (Songs for Christmas) with Alejandro Zabala on piano and The passion of Spain, with romances and duets of zarzuelas with José Carreras.
IsabelRey is a regular collaborator with the José Carreras Foundation for the Fight Against Leukemia and patron of the Clarós Foundation dedicated to the support of acute deafness through research, prevention and education.