On Tuesday I returned to the excellent St Clement Danes for a lunchtime treat of song and some opera from two young Jette Parker singers.
I have always tried to put emphasis on the song component in any programme of advanced training and development of young singers that I have been involved with. Back in the last century (in 1998 to be precise so not so far back!) we devised a really successful song programme for the young artists we recruited for the European Union Opera. Concentrating on French, German, and Scandinavian song we brought in Elisabeth Söderström, Gundula Janowitz, and Régine Crespin to work with these young people, together with repertoire appropriate coaches - Craig Rutenberg, Sabine Vatin, and Viktor Åslund.
Each of the great ladies gave master classes and each of singers gave a shared recital of the rep that they had worked on - alongside the rehearsals of our productions of Eugene Onegin and Béatrice et Bénédict. And we were in the city of the first performance of Berlioz's last delightful opera - Baden-Baden. I hope, and like to believe, that the singers involved in that programme 18 years ago remember it as a valuable experience as part of their development. And I am sure they remember what fun we had!
So words are important, and the encouragement of opera singers to pay close attention to them through work on the song repertoire is valuable, as the Jette Parker programme at the Royal Opera House are showing. Two of the new members of the JPYAP, Francesca Chiejina and Thomas Atkins delivered Beethoven (An die ferne Geliebte), a group of Schubert, Mozart and R Strauss, two of the Britten Michelangelo sonnets, and the three Fauré Opus 23 songs. And they ended by knocking our socks off in returning to opera - Massenet Manon Act III duet. Then they were truly in their element! As always they were superbly supported at the piano by the master mentor David Gowland.
All Saints Church, Wandsworth High Street
The National Opera Studio, which has its base in Wandsworth, presented nine of their young people in another lunch time event, on Wednesday - in the very sympathetic church of All Saints just across the street. There will be another opportunity to meet them next week at a more extensive event on Thursday evening in Mansfield Street. On Wednesday I was particularly struck soprano by Caroline Modiba and mezzo Grace Durham - two natural performers who communicated particularly persuasively. Of course the standard is extremely high with all these carefully chosen singers and I am looking forward to hearing them all again next week.
And how good it was to be made to sit up when the outstanding young Irish pianist Killian Farrell launched into Handel, Janáček, and Wagner. He is ubiquitous having already made his mark in young artists programmes in Aldeburgh and Aix-en-Provence in the last three months! It is always good to look out for emerging pianists as well!