14 Feb 2007
The Handel Singing Competition 2007 – Win or Lose?
Singing competitions are a mixed blessing.
Last year’s Strauss anniversary year — 150 years since his birth — offered, at least in the United Kingdom, a typical number of opportunities and frustrations.
On 6 June, Jonathan Dove’s Flight touches down in Kensington, west London. Opera Holland Park is to stage the first London production of Dove’s operatic presentation of the real-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian exile who, lacking residency rights or refugee status, was forced to live in the departure lounge of Terminal One at Charles de Gaulle Airport for 18 years.
San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.
Kathleen Ferrier may have been one of the world’s finest contraltos but this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final, held at the Wigmore Hall, was all about lyric sopranos.
East Coast Premiere at Opera Philadelphia next season. Performances from Cold Mountain at the Guggenheim in New York this Monday, March 30.
Five Young Singers Named Winners of the 2015 Met National Council Auditions, America’s Most Prestigious Vocal Competition
Julia Noulin-Mérat is the principal designer for the Noulin-Merat Studio, an intrepid New York City production design firm that works in theater, film, and television, but emphasizes opera and immersive site-specific theatre.
A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic 16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels — artistically, technically and creatively.
Bampton Classical Opera has announced that applications are now open for the company’s Young Singers’ Competition 2015. This biennial competition was first launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera’s 20th birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK.
Anita Rachvelishvili recently performed the title role in Carmen broadcast by The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Here she drops by for a little chat with our Maria Nockin.
This is a revised version of my review of the Sept 5th 1991American premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera was first performed at Brussels’ La Monnaie the previous spring.
"Although there are now more people on this planet than there have ever been before, there are fewer dramatic voices. Something is wrong with that equation. I thought there needs to be some sort of helping hand so that dramatic voices don’t fall through the cracks in the system as they advance through their various stages of development."
Anna Prohaska sings Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the Royal Opera House. In the same month, she’s also in London to sing a recital with Eric Schneider at the Wigmore Hall, and to sing Henze with Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican Hall.
Garsington Opera celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Baritone Brandon Coleman’s mother, Linda, knew that 3-year old Brandon would be a great singer when a stranger who had heard him, predicted it.
Professional opera returns to the Las Vegas Valley June 6th and 8th with performances of one of the best-known comic operas of all time, Gioachino Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
I met with the embattled artistic director of the Opéra et Orchestre National de Montepellier not to talk about his battles. I simply wanted to know the man who had cast and staged a truly extraordinary Mozart/DaPonte trilogy.
Maria Nockin interviews tenor Saimir Pirgu.
Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, former principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, has died aged 80
Singing competitions are a mixed blessing.
For some singers they can become a way of life, travelling from continent to continent, from jury to jury, seeking that golden fleece of success with which to adorn their CV and give them, they hope, access to commercial success on the opera and recital stage, and even (less likely these days) a recording contract. For others they can be nothing but frustrating and counter-productive, and are quickly abandoned as a route to a worthwhile career in opera.
A relatively recent recruit to the roster of such competitions is in the specialised field of baroque singing, and specifically of Handel’s music: the London Handel Singing Competition. There has been a significant increase in the popularity of this composer’s vocal music over recent decades, and even the most staid of traditional opera houses can usually boast at least one of Mr. Handel’s masterpieces in their current repertoire. With this change has come the perceived need for specialist singers trained in the idiom and comfortable with its demands, and this is where the London Singing Competition finds its niche.
Established in 2002 by musical director Laurence Cummings, the format has not changed a great deal from those early days, except that all applicants are now heard, either live or on CD, and the Competition Finals are held now in the middle of the annual London Handel Festival, based in the composer’s old church of St. George’s, Hanover Square. Looking through the requirements for entry, it is obvious that the students and young performers are expected to do a lot of work: research and carefully thought-out repertoire is at a premium. The early rounds to hear the 70-80 applicants are held at the Royal Academy of Music in London, although singers from overseas can send in suitably-recorded CDs instead. After that, the Semi Finals and Final are public affairs in front of the panel of Adjudicators and live audience, and take the form of a semi-formal concert. Like some other competitions, the HSC has introduced an Audience Prize, and this is an opportunity to both empower the listeners, involving them in the eventual outcome, and to give the singers a second chance of success. It is not uncommon for this prize to go to a different young performer than the one chosen by the jury – and who’s to say who will be proven right in time? As has been seen over and over again, win or lose, just appearing in the Semis or Finals can have a great impact on a singer’s career as the events are always attended by music business folk on the look out for new talent.
At the risk of being invidious, some very interesting and talented singers have done well at the HSC, and their names are already becoming well known in baroque circles both in the UK and further afield: Andrew Kennedy, Lucy Crowe, Elizabeth Atherton, Iestyn Davies, and Nathan Vale, to name just a few, have all made their mark since reaching the Finals over the past five years and have embarked on promising careers in opera.
Looking ahead, the HSC is intending to broaden its remit and wants to encourage more foreign singers to apply. To this end, they are offering limited bursaries to help with travelling costs, and this can only result in an even more exciting competition of the highest standard in the future.
This year’s Final is on Monday April 23rd, at 7pm, at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London, and the Adjudicators will be Ian Partridge, Catherine Denley, Michael Chance, Lindsay Kemp and Stephen Roberts.
For more information on application go to: http://www.london-handel-festival.com/competition.htm
Sue Loder, 2007