After completing her vocal training as soprano under Inge Uibel at Berlin University of Arts, Friederike Harmsen worked with David Jones, Janet Williams and Eva Lindqvist, switching to mezzosoprano and expanding her diverse repertoire, which includes soprano, mezzosoprano, and alto roles in opera and concerts. Today, her main focus lies on a lower-pitched repertoire. She now works with Renate Faltin.
She has successfully participated in numerous world premieres, including at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, the Neuköllner Oper, the Berlin Opera Prize, the Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin, the Schauspielhaus Wien and the Steirischer Herbst.
Friederike Harmsen has successfully starred in numerous premieres, including at the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden, the Neuköllner Oper, the Berliner Opernpreis award, the Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin (Contemporary Opera Berlin), Schauspielhaus Vienna as well as the Steirischer Herbst festival. Many projects were developed in collaboration with Christoph Schlingensief, including his Fluxus oratorio, Church of Fear, which was performed at the Ruhr Triennale in 2008 and the 2009 Berliner Theatertreffen festival. Friederike Harmsen also collaborated with Schlingensief on his so-called ready-made opera, Mea Culpa, which she starred in at Vienna’s Burgtheater, the Bavarian State Opera, the Schauspielhaus Hamburg and, as part of the Holland Festival, at the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam. She was also part of Schlingensief’s last music theatre production, Via Intolleranza II, and was invited to perform at the 2011 Berliner Theatertreffen festival, the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, the Helsinki Festival and the “Politics in Free Theatre” festival at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden. Friederike gave her debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2011, starring in Goethe’s Faust I&II – a production which was also performed at Thalia Theatre Hamburg, the 2012 Berliner Theatertreffen festival, and the 2013 Festival d’Avignon.
In the Werkstatt der Staatsoper at Berlin’s Schiller Theatre, Friederike took on the lead role in Cesar Cui’s Puss in Boots as well as Vava in Moscow, Cheryomushki. She performed in John Cage’s Songbooks, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Originale, Oscar Strasnoy’s Geschichte, Mischa Spoliansky’s Es liegt in der Luft and Nicola Sani’s Falcone.
Together with Girma Yifrashewa, Friederike Harmsen premiered the hymn The Silent Hearts, specially composed for her and others, at the National Theatre Addis Adeba in 2017.
After her debut as Vava at the Braunschweig State Theatre in 2018, she also starred as Hannah in Weinberg’s The Passenger and in Cage’s Songbooks and took on the role as Ice Princess in Kurt Schwertsik’s children’s opera, The Ice Princess’s Journey to Sicily. In the 2020/21 season, she performed in the premiere of Fake Voices.
Friederike Harmsen was also on stage in Germania at the Volksbühne Berlin in the 2019/20 season. Together with the Ensemble Quillo, Friederike played in the premiere of Maria Vatenina’s chamber opera Journey to the South, which was dedicated to her.
In spring 2020, she debuted at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall Hamburg in Mark Scheibe’s Deutschlandsinfonie.
Friederike regularly sings Baroque alto arias at the Berliner Residence Concerts in Charlottenburg Palace.
In the current season 2022–2023, Friederike was the vocalist in the premiere of Marc Scheibe’s new music accompanying the classic silent movie Dr. Mabuse, together with the Babylon Film Orchestra. She is on stage in Faust I&II at the Schauspielhaus Zurich and in Fake Voices at the Brunswick State Theatre. She also premiered in Oscar Strasnoy's chamber opera Robinson to broad acclaim at the State Opera in Berlin.
Besides performing on stage, Friederike also gives vocal training as time permits.
Mezzosoprano / Alto
Photo by Michael Bogar