As a child of the 60’s born on the west coast of Denmark, it was not written in the stars that I should become an operasinger.
My parents owned a butcher shop and hoped that I would become a priest – but I followed my dreams.
My first vocal coach, Hugo Sieben, said that being an opera singer is like being a boxer: you have to be prepared to be knocked down and get back up, over and over again.
He was so right, but I would do it all again.
In the summer of 1988, I sang Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Varde Sommerspil.
It was my first experience as a singer/actor on a real stage. Around 20,000 people saw the show over its two-week run.
Luckily, I didn’t realise how difficult this dream role was, I just did it – and had a great success.
Photographs by Uffe Bølling
I became a member of the soloist ensemble at The Royal Opera in Copenhagen in 1995.
One of my first leading roles was as Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. I sang the part many times over the next 10 years. In 2003, the production was televised by the Danish national broadcasting agency.
Here I am with Palle Knudsen as Papageno
Photograph by Mydtskov
In 2004, I worked with world-famous director David McVicar, when he staged Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen.
Working with him was a turning point in my career. He taught me everything I know about being present on stage, and gave me so much love and confidence. I owe him so much and am very thankful that I met him.
Here I am in our kitchen with the poster from the production.
In 2009, I worked with another of my favourite directors, Peter Konwitschny.
I sang every tenor’s dream role: Lenski in Tchaikowsky’s Eugen Onegin.
His production was wonderful. I especially loved his staging of the Polonaise at the beginning of the third act, where Onegin does a kind of dance macabre with Lenski’s dead body.
Picture 1 (from left): Trine Bastrup Møller, Elisabeth Halling, me, Ylva Kihlberg and Johanne Bock.
Picture 2: With Auden Iversen as Onegin.
Photographs by Morten Abrahamsen
I have only done a few Italian lyric tenor parts. One of them is Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth.
The part is not big, but Macduff’s aria: Ah, la paterna mano, where he is determined to avenge the deaths of his wife and children at the hands of Macbeth, is so emotional and beautiful and I loved to create this scene of sorrow and grief.
Photographs by Miklos Szabo
I had a great time singing Max in Der Freischütz at The Royal Opera in 2015. Here I am together with the wonderful German bass-baritone Oliver Zwarg.
Max’s aria had been following me since I studied it at conservatory, and at last I had a chance to sing it on stage in Kasper Holten’s terrific staging.
Photograph by Morten Abrahamsen
One of my most significant experiences on stage was singing Jimmy Mahoney in Kurt Weill’s opera Mahagonny, staged by legendary director Graham Vick in the 2016-2017 season.
The production involved a number of supernumeraries, cast with refugees applying for asylum in Denmark. Some of them are still in Denmark, but others had to leave, some even between one performance and another. It was a very emotional chapter in my career, but a deeply enriching one as well.
Photographs by Thomas Petri
And here I am transformed into a kind of dwarf and hunchback. I had so much fun playing the part of Barca in Kuhlau’s opera Lulu. Christian von Götz directed this wonderful production on the Old Stage in Copenhagen in 2018.
Here I am with the Swedish bass Henning von Schulman, who, despite playing the part of my father in the opera, is 20 years younger than me.
Photographs by Camilla Winther, Miklos Szabo, Zarko Ivetic