Wednesday 22 April 2015

Spanish baritone wins 2015 London Handel Singing Competition

Josep-Ramon Olivé, © Chris Christodoulou
Josep-Ramon Olivé,
© Chris Christodoulou
The 2015 London Handel Festival came to an end on Monday with the 14th London Handel Singing Competition at St George's Church, Hanover Square. Five finalists competed, soprano Ingrida Gápová, soprano Sarah Hayashi, baritone Josep-Ramon Olivé, mezzo-soprano Maria Ostroukhova and soprano Alice Privett, before a distinguished jury consisting of (Ian Partridge, Edward Blakeman, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Catherine Denley and Michael George). The singers were accompanied by members of the London Handel Orchestra, directed by Laurence Cummings. 

The competition has a knack of choosing its winners well, past singers have included Andrew Kennedy, Elizabeth Atherton, Ruby Hughes, Sophie Junker and Nathan Vale. And winners have a welcome habit of returning in later festivals too. Rupert Charlesworth (who took first prize in 2013) sang Jove in this year's Semele alongside one of the 2014 winners.

The Handel repertoire does, of course, favour certain voice types though I remember the quality of Argentinian bass Lisandro Abadie who was a finalist in 2008. So it pleasing that this year Spanish baritone Josep-Ramon Olivé took first place, winning the Regina Etz Prize as well as winning the Michael Normington Audience Prize. Josep-Ramon Olivé is currently on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, currently studying under Professor Rudolf Piernay. At the final he sang a recitative and aria from Tamerlano, 'Vouchsafe, O Lord' from the Dettingen Te Deum and arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Lotario. Russian mezzo-soprano Maria Ostroukhova took second place, with the Michael Oliver Prize, singing aria from Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Giove in Argo. Josep-Ramon Olivé and Maria Ostroukhova each receive a cash prize and a performance at the 2016 London Handel Festival, and the other two performers will be offered a lunchtime recital.

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