I spent a really enjoyable evening in St James Church, Paddington yesterday. This was for just the second concert by an impressively enterprising group called Place de l'Opera, the brainchild of two young French conducting students at the Royal Academy of Music. These young men, Victor Jacob and Marc Hajjar, put together an exceptionally talented group of friends and fellow RAM students, both singers and orchestral instrumentalists, to give us a delightful 90 minutes of music making, executed with love and enthusiasm of the most infectious kind.
There were six singers, five from the RAM and a single representative of the Guildhall School, an excellent German baritone Johannes Kammler - a fine Mozartian with a very beautiful voice giving us Don Giovanni and the Count. This was classy singing from this young man. I am delighted to see that he studied with my old friend and colleague Patrick Raftery in Toronto.
The rest of the singers were a selection of the young RAM singers not yet in the Royal Academy Opera. There were two sopranos, very different but both really promising. Lorena Paz Nieto I noticed before at the RAM's vocal faculty scenes a week or two ago - she is a major prospect. As is the golden voiced Nika Goric - who showed really interesting possibilities as the Countess in a short excerpt from Le nozze di Figaro.
The very young Olivia Warburton showed distinction vocally and in her artistic personality in such variety as Siebel, Handel's Sesto, and a little bit of Cherubino (I'd love to see her in this role); a striking Brazilian tenor Wagner Moreira indicated some real vocal quality in spite of only having Basilio in the Figaro Act 1 trio to show what he is made of; and young Nick Mogg made a brief appearance as Figaro.
I take it that these young people will all be in the RAM Opera program next year. If so we are in for some really interesting evenings I would have thought.
Hats off to Victor and Marc for their enterprise - and do support them in the future. It is this sort of self starting initiative and leadership which renews ones faith in the huge power of music to achieve good things. So Chapeau to them!