Friday, 13 October 2017

Overture: Meet the National Opera Studio 2017/18 Young Artists

National Opera Studio 2017-18 Young Artists (C) NOS - Marc Gascoigne 2017
National Opera Studio 2017-18 Young Artists (C) NOS - Marc Gascoigne 2017
Three weeks after they started their training programme at the National Opera Studio (NOS) we had the chance to hear the 2017/18 cohort of singers and repetiteurs in action, in a concert at 22 Mansfield Street on 11 October 2017. We heard sopranos Carly Owen and Lorena Paz Nieto, mezzo-sopranos Bethan Langford, Polly Leech and Sinead O'Kelly, counter-tenor Feargal Mostyn-Williams (the first ever counter-tenor on the NOS’s main Exceptional Talent Training Programme), tenors Andrew Henley and Satriya Krisna, baritone Daniel Shelvey, bass-baritones Edmund Danon and Emyr Wyn Jones, and repetiteurs Erika Gundesen, Igor Horvat, Satoshi Kubo, and Florent Mourier, in music by Rossini, Mozart, Dvorak, Verdi, Gluck, Handel, Donizetti and Puccini as well as two more unusual items, an aria from the Spanish zarzuela El barbero de Sevilla by Geronimo Gimenez and Manuel Nieto, and the aria 'Questo amor' from Puccini's Edgar.

Each of the singers is part of the way along the long journey to develop voice and artistry, and what is fascinating about such occasions is the chance to see how the individual performers are developing, each voice at a different stage of development, the sense of an personal presence in the performer's artistry. Singing to patrons at a salon is as old as opera itself, and the skill of being able to do so, being able to sing an opera aria in a drawing room (albeit a grand Robert Adam designed one) with the audience only feet away is an important skill to learn.

Each singer gave us a solo aria, a party piece which encapsulated the best in their voice, and then each participated in one of a group of ensembles. Rather delightfully, the evening finished with an encore, an arrangement of the septet (not actually by Offenbach) from Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann for all eleven singers, a wonderful end to the evening, and very loud indeed.

We started with Sinead O'Kelly as Rosina from Rossini's Il barbiere di Sivigla, then came Daniel Shelvey as the Count in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Carly Owen in the 'Song to the Moon' from Dvorak's Rusalka, Emyr Wyn Jones as Mozart's Figaro, Satriya Krisna as Alfredo from Verdi's La traviata, Bethan Langford as Gluck's Orfeo, Feargal Mostyn-Williams as Bertarido from Handel's Rodelinda, Loren Paz Nieto in an aria from the zarzuela El barbero de Sevilla by Geronimo Gimenez and Manuel Nieto, Andrew Henley as Nemorino from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Polly Leech as Sesto from Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, and Edmund Danton as Frank from Puccini's Edgar. Along the way we also eard Niteo and Henley in the Act One duet from La traviata, Leech and Shelvey in Dorabella and Guglielmo's duet from Cosi fan tutte, Owen, Langford and Danon in trio from Cosi fan tutte, Jones and Krisna in the Act Three duet for Rodolfo and Marcello from Puccini's La boheme, and O'Kelly and Mostyn-Williams in The Cat Duet (an anonymous compilation based on material by Rossini).

The event marked the start of a busy, celebratory period for the National Opera Studio as it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2018. To mark this, it has launched at 40th anniversary appeal, the 400 Appeal, inviting people to pledge £1 a day or £10 a day throughout the 400 days of celebration (for further information contact Development Manager Robert Moffat  robert@nationaloperastudio.org.uk).

Another celebratory event is the series of lunchtime recitals being given at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Thursdays, in association with the museum's new opera exhibition. The recitals will feature current young artists alongside distinguished alumni including Ronald Samm, Lesley Garrett, Linda Richardson, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Katherine Crompton and Nicky Spence. Full details from the studio's events page.

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