Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch - UK premiere

The culmination of the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion: Detlev Glanert on Saturday 7 December will be the UK première of the German composer’s Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch conducted by Semyon Bychkov.

Bampton Classical Opera's Young Singers' Competition - Winner Announced

Bampton Classical Opera is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 Young Singers’ Competition is soprano Lucy Anderson. The runner-up prize has been awarded jointly to soprano Daniella Sicari and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Holt. The winner of the accompanists’ prize, a new category since 2017, is Dylan Perez, who accompanied Lucy Anderson.

Soprano Eleanor Dennis performs Beethoven and Schubert at the 2019 Highgate International Chamber Music Festival

When soprano Eleanor Dennis was asked - by Ashok Klouda, one of the founders and co-directors of the Highgate International Chamber Music Festival - to perform some of Beethoven’s Scottish Songs Op.108 at this year’s Festival, as she leafed through the score to make her selection the first thing that struck her was the beauty of the poetry.

Mark Padmore reflects on Britten's Death in Venice

“At the start, one knows ‘bits’ of it,” says tenor Mark Padmore, somewhat wryly, when I meet him at the Stage Door of the Royal Opera House where the tenor has just begun rehearsals for David McVicar’s new production of Death in Venice, which in November will return Britten’s opera to the ROH stage for the first time since 1992.

Annilese Miskimmon appointed as English National Opera’s Artistic Director

English National Opera has appointed Annilese Miskimmon as Artistic Director.

An interview with Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Oxford Lieder Festival's first Associate Composer

“Trust me, I’m telling you stories …”

GSMD and ROH announce Oliver Leith as new Doctoral Composer-in-Residence 2019-2022

Guildhall School of Music & Drama in association with The Royal Opera today announces Oliver Leith as the fourth Doctoral Composer-in-Residence, starting in September 2019. Launched in 2013, the collaboration between Guildhall School and The Royal Opera is one...

In conversation with Nina Brazier

When British opera director Nina Brazier tries to telephone me from Frankfurt, where she is in the middle of rehearsals for a revival of Florentine Klepper’s 2015 production of Martinů’s Julietta, she finds herself - to my embarrassment - ‘blocked’ by my telephone preference settings. The technical hitch is soon solved; but doors, in the UK and Europe, are certainly very much wide open for Nina, who has been described by The Observer as ‘one of Britain’s leading young directors of opera’.

2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition

Russian bass-baritone Mikhail Timoshenko has won the top prize at the 2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition.

An Englishman in Vienna: Stephen Storace

When his first opera, Gli sposi malcontenti, premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1st June 1985, the 23-year-old Stephen Storace must have been confident that his future fame and fortune were assured.

Stendhal on the Rossini Revolution

Some Details concerning the Revolution inaugurated by Rossini

Louise Jeffreys to become Deputy Chair of ENO

English National Opera (ENO) is pleased to announce that Louise Jeffreys is to become Deputy Chair of English National Opera and the London Coliseum. She replaces Nicholas Allan. Louise is currently Artistic Director of the Barbican where she leads...

Verdi Treasures from Milan’s Ricordi Archive make US debut

Rare testimonies to the history of Italian opera from the Milan-based, Bertelsmann-owned Ricordi Archive will now be shown in the United States for the first time. Fans of classical music and literature can look forward to the exhibition “Verdi: Creating Otello and Falstaff - Highlights from the Ricordi Archive”, which will be on view at the renowned Morgan Library & Museum in New York from September 6, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Odyssey Opera Resurrects Henry VIII

BOSTON, MA (For Release 07.18.19) — One of the nation’s most adventurous opera companies, Odyssey Opera, begins its seventh season with a concert performance of Henry VIII (1883) by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns based on El cisma en Inglaterra (The schism in England) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

Glyndebourne Announces the Return of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup in 2020

Glyndebourne’s major new international singing competition returns in 2020 with a renewed commitment to supporting diversity in opera. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup - the international competition for opera singers is designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers around the world, offering a top prize of £15,000 and a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house. The final will once again be broadcast live on Sky Arts on 7 March 2020 and the series is produced by Factory Films.

Garsington Opera: Five Young Singers Win Prestigious Awards

Winners of this year’s prestigious Leonard Ingrams Foundation awards are mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew and tenor Oliver Johnston. These awards support, encourage and nurture the best young artists involved in the creative process of bringing opera to the stage, and are made in memory of Garsington Opera’s founder Leonard Ingrams, to ensure the continuity of his vision.

Bill Bankes-Jones on the twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival

“We need to stop talking about ‘diversity’ and think instead about ‘inclusivity’,” says Bill Bankes-Jones, when we meet to talk about the forthcoming twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival which runs from 24th July to 10th August.

The Italian Opera Connection at ‘The English Versailles’: The Duchess of Buccleuch and the Georgian Stage at Boughton House

As part of its annual programme of events, Boughton House in Northamptonshire hosts ‘A Passion for Opera’, a rare exhibition portraying the musical life of Lady Elizabeth Montagu (1743–1827) and the world of Georgian operatic culture.

An interview with composer Dani Howard

The young Hong Kong-born British composer Dani Howard is having quite a busy year.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced both schedules and cast-lists for is Spring 2020 performances of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Given the series of individual productions already staged by the company since Fall 2016, that pave the way for the complete cycle, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s complete production should affirm the artistic might of the great composer.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Keith Jameson in the title role of Candide, New York City Opera
17 Dec 2008

Keith Jameson — Comprimario Extraordinaire

Most opera-world publicity is accorded star singers, but we take another tack here to look at American tenor Keith Jameson who has made a specialty of character or comprimario parts, while at the same time building a solid reputation as sophisticated musician and actor, a performer who can seize the moment and elevate a role to first rank for the time he is on stage.

Keith Jameson — Comprimario Extraordinaire

Above: Keith Jameson in the title role of Candide, New York City Opera

 

Appearing as the young Novice in Benjamin Britten’s shipboard tragedy, Billy Budd, in Santa Fe Opera’s 2008 season, Jameson proved what he can do most impressively. His young novice sailor first appears shirtless and scarred with lash marks, the victim of a sadistic master-at-arms (John Claggart), and the cruelty of life at sea; later, he must confront Claggart and plead for mercy at the hands of a sadist in a highly emotional scene. Sounds like a daunting assignment for a 40-year old singer who grew up in a small town in South Carolina. How does he do it, and how does he manage to look and sound a crazed lad of 25?

“I am at least as much actor as singer,” Jameson explained when I asked him. “The two arts cannot be separated.” He seems disarmingly mild off stage, modest of build with blue eyes and dark hair, an infectious grin and gentle mien, which can explode into unexpected fireworks onstage in the heat of performance.

“Ben Britten is my favorite kind of music and I hope to do a lot more of it,” Jameson said. Thus far he has sung Peter Quint in Turn of the Screw, and in Britten’s Curlew River, as well as some of the British master’s choral and sacred music, and has his eye on the ingénue role of Albert Herring, in that captivating comedy of village ‘types’ and coming-of-independence. “I almost want to live in England, and specialize in Britten and in Baroque music,” Jameson admits. He would doubtless be welcome, with musicianship grounded in far more education than most professional singers enjoy.

After music and vocal studies at college in South Carolina, Jameson joined the Eastman School at Rochester, N. Y., and earned a Master’s Degree in conducting and Doctorate of Musical Performance in voice. “I tried choral conducting and a bit of teaching, but my real love is singing. I most love to perform on stage and make acting and musical expression become one unified experience – for both performers and audience. I just live for it,” he beams. Jameson continues to refine his art and with good results. “For about a year now I’ve been working with a new teacher in New York, opening the voice, and that volume you heard in the high range in Billy Budd is a result. Vocal growth has opened a wider horizon for me.”

Jameson_TurnOfTheScrew.pngKeith Jameson as Peter Quint, with Lisa Houben as Miss Jessel, in The Turn of the Screw, Opera Royal de Wallonie in Liege, Belgium, April 2007 [Photo courtesy of ORW]

“ When the Novice is dragged before Claggart he is a terrified, humiliated boy, and he begs for mercy, virtually for his life. He’ll do anything to avoid further physical cruelty,” Jameson explains. In the face of the boy’s screaming agony, Peter Rose, the powerful English bass impersonating Claggart, maintained an almost eerie cool, his low-keyed response creating a tremendous tension in the scene. “It’s hard work to set up such extreme contrasts and takes stamina and real acting; that is why I loved doing it. And playing against Peter Rose is something special,” Jameson found. Few in his Santa Fe audience knew Jameson could sing with such passionate power, so his recent performance proved an exciting revelation.

Jameson sees plenty of years ahead as operatic tenor, but when I asked if he eventually planned to become a teacher, his reply was immediate: “No indeed, I want to run an opera company” (This guy is full of surprises!) “I’m serious,” he continued. “I have started a small chamber music festival, January each year a time that needs a seasonal pick-up – and I present at my Southern home town a musical stage performance, some sacred music and a program of pure chamber music, and I want to make that grow into a music festival in due time that specializes in presenting American opera.” He cites the example of another character tenor and former Santa Fe performer, Darren Keith Woods, who switched from performance to management and is now the successful general director of the Ft. Worth opera, which he converted from conventional company into an annual opera festival. “Darren has shown us how, so here is hoping,” Jameson said. “But I have many roles to play and many songs to sing before that happens.”

Dr. Jameson has earned an exciting professional future, whatever form it takes.

J. A. Van Sant © 2008

Jameson_Mikado.pngKeith Jameson as Nanki-Poo and Anna Christy as Yum-Yum in Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikada, New York City Opera and English National Opera [Photo courtesy of English National Opera]

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):