This afternoon the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists Program was on display for the public with their annual Summer performance. There was a full house, with an enthusiastic and rather rowdy audience - not the sort of behaviour one associates with the Covent Garden audience - but none the worse for that!
Covent Garden has always had an international approach to its choice of artists for this Jette Parker program. This year there are two English, one Anglo Irish, a Russian, a Ukrainian, a Korean, and four Australians. Their contribution to the casts of the Royal Opera over the season is significant, and the experience each member of the programme gets during their time at the opera house is priceless - as good an apprenticeship as one could hope for as young opera singer. The comparable programmes elsewhere are those at the Metropolitan in New York, Chicago's Ryan Center, the Adler Fellowship programme in San Francisco, and the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio. They are all pretty well on a par with Jette Parker in terms of consistent success in producing remarkable artists over the years. In Europe there are also good opportunities of a similar kind including those found in Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris and Zurich.
This afternoon we had a short programme with chunks from Kát'a Kabanová, a single extended aria from Mireille, and a healthy slice of Act 3 of Eugene Onegin, all in the first part. After the interval there was a most welcome bit of Leoncavallo's La Bohème, followed by some of the usual snippets of Fledermaus which are so useful on such occasions.
Whilst it may seem to be invidious to single individuals out I will, as usual, do so! And my "gold medals" all go to the Aussies! Of course the overall quality was very high indeed but, for what it is worth, I was particularly struck by Lauren Fagan, who seems to me to have made huge strides since she came from Sydney some five years ago to the Guildhall - she has blossomed into a most significant new artist. She sang the Mireille scene and Mimi in the Bohème. A complete newcomer is the mezzo Emily Edmonds - a wonderful Varvara in the Janáček, and an exuberant Orlofsky showing a completely different side of her in the Fledermaus. And the third most gifted Australian was the baritone Samuel Dale Johnson - Rodolfo in the Bohème, and apparently due to sing the Count in Figaro at Scottish Opera next season. That might be worth the trip for talent scouts!
We are apparently in for a three day heatwave. That means 33 degrees Celsius.......not too bad! I am very much in holiday mode. The first of my 11 grandchildren will be 17 tomorrow so there will be a happy family celebration. I will be off to Portugal for a week with family on July 30. Meanwhile all attention is on our wretched politicians who are making such a hash of things - unbelievable!