News

June 2017

Reviews for Lee Bisset as Isolde at Longborough Opera

Lee Bisset received outstanding reviews for her return to the role of Isolde in Longborough Festival Opera’s revival of Tristan und Isolde, The Times writing:

"Lee Bisset is an overwhelming and richly luminous Isolde, taking us from death-filled desires to feverish love with stamina and insight."

Other reviews were no less enthusiastic:

“Isolde is a passionate young girl with a manipulative streak. But what Wagnerian soprano ever troubles to convey such mundane intricacies? At Longborough Lee Bissett does so, and with enormous intelligence and conviction. Not only does she sing with power and control, but from the start she creates, through bodily gesture and mobile facial expression, a vivid image of a young woman who is finding it hard to decide whether she hates or is in love with the man who is escorting her to marry the King of Cornwall. And once she has made up her mind, she conveys equally well the rapture and intensity, and the inevitable doom, of the love in question.“ The Arts Desk

“First among equals was Lee Bisset, a natural Wagnerian who impressed as Sieglinde in Opera North's Ring project, and who here delivered an Isolde that was more than the equal of any you will find on the international stage today." Bachtrack

“By not getting in the way, the staging enhances the intensity between the lovers, and with Peter Wedd (who was in the original run) and Lee Bisset you see and hear something quite remarkable unfold, something you know the opera carries but which rarely erupts to such annihilating effect, and it’s not just because they both are easy on the eye. On first-night Wedd’s singing was heroic and tireless, and the final Act must count as this already-superb Wagner-tenor’s finest achievement, on top of which he delivers Tristan’s madness with a truly distressing realism. Bisset’s soprano had the penetration, lyricism, range and volume to encompass Isolde’s imperious will and extreme vulnerability in Act One and, with Wedd of course, a sensationally erotic love-duet in the next one; they practically devoured each other, matched by singing of sublime tenderness and volcanic passion.” Classical Source

“Lee Bisset’s Isolde is remarkable, so beautifully expressive and vocally powerful." Mark Ronan

“As well as proving the most engaging and subtle of actors, Lee Bisset is vocally brilliant, with a soprano that can display sensitivity, restraint, strength and power while still always achieving a sense of overarching unity." Music OMH

“Peter Wedd and Lee Bisset excelled in the title roles, their obsessive love so quietly erotic you felt almost voyeuristic watching them, their singing tireless, searing, intelligent.” The Observer

"The most important change of cast is the Isolde of Lee Bisset. Two years ago (her predecessor) was powerful and passionate, sometimes almost too loud, but Bisset has a greater regal presence, a richer tone, and integrates passages that can sound like mere declamation into the overall forward pressure of the drama. She and the Tristan of Peter Wedd make the most convincing couple I have ever seen in this work." The Spectator

"I fear that I will run short of compliments for the two title characters. Lee Bisset, who debuted in the second cast in 2015, turned out to be the Isolde of my dreams, finished in every inch, felt to the very depths. This is one of those singers who rivet one’s attention from their first entrance onstage, engage the listener not only with perfect mastery of their part, but also with an accurate feel for the words and fantastic acting. Bisset pulled off something that (her predecessor) had previously been unable to manage – to show Isolde as an equal partner to Tristan, a strong woman aware from the outset of her feelings, with which she initially fights as fiercely as she later yields to them. Her dark, expressive, strikingly powerful soprano sparkles with every hue of emotion: it sounded one way in the fiery, furious duet with Brangäne, another way in ecstatic union with Tristan, for whom she had longed for years." Upiór w operze

Lee Bisset as Isolde, Peter Wedd as Tristan and Stuart Pendred as Kurwenal.

 

JBM artists triumph in The Grange Festival’s ‘Albert Herring’

Tenor Richard Pinkstone made his professional opera debut in the title role of Britten's Albert Herring at the inaugural season of The Grange Festival. The Arts Desk writes:

"In perfect synch with their instrumental colleagues throughout, the singers are both magnificent soloists and - again as becomes especially apparent in Act 3 - team players. Richard Pinkstone gives us a different, and utterly credible, take on shop-boy Albert, the good boy voted May King since all the village girls are, in the words of the chief moralist, "not virgins but trollops". Tied to his widowed mum's apron strings but clearly strong enough to break loose from the first, this Albert has the operatic-tenor heft for the will to freedom in the voice from his very first scene, rather than the usual softer grain of the lyric-character choral scholar. The emancipation sees him very much in control; again, it's completely believable."

There was praise, too, for three other JBM artists in the production: Kathleen Wilkinson as Mrs Herring, Alexander Robin Baker as Mr. Gedge and Timothy Nelson as Sid.

There will be further performances on 29 June, 1, 7 and 9 July. Full details here.

Richard Pinkstone as Albert and Kathleen Wilkinson as Mrs. Herring. Photographer: Alastair Muir.

 

Alessandro Fisher becomes Associate Artist for Classical Opera

We are thrilled to announce that tenor Alessandro Fisher has been announced as Associate Artist for the 2017/2018 Classical Opera season, alongside mezzo soprano Emily Edmonds and tenor Thomas Elwin. 

The scheme was launched in 2006 by Classical Opera’s founder and artistic director Ian Page to consolidate the company’s work in assisting the development of young singers in the early stages of their career. Previous participants of the scheme include Louise Alder, Allen Clayton and Sophie Bevan.

Alessandro appeared as Christian in the company’s recent production of Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes. The new Associate Artists will all feature in a new semi-staging of Mozart’s La finta semplice at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 6 & 8 June 2018, and will also appear in a concert performance of the same opera at Birmingham Town Hall on 2 June 2018.

May 2017

New releases for June

Anush Hovhannisyan sings Three Songs by Glinka with Malcolm Martineau, piano, on Decades: A Century of Song, Volume 2, now available on Vivat CDAnita Watson sings Second Flowermaiden on Parsifal with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, now available on the Hallé’s own label.

April 2017

Katherine Ferrier Awards winner 2017

We are delighted to announce that Julien van Mellearts has won first prize in the 2017 Katherine Ferrier awards. Recent award winners include James Black artists Alessandro Fisher and Jennifer France.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competitors announced

We are thrilled to anounce that Anush Hovhannisyan will represent Armenia at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 which will take place from 11th to the 18th June. The jury with be chaired by director David Pountney and include the competitions's patron Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

January 2017

Recent recordings roundup

Recent recordings featuring James Black artists include Anita Watson singing Fata Morgana: The Songs of Pavel Haas, available on Resonus CD; and The Complete Songs of Granados, featuring Carol Garcia, now available on IBS Classical CD.

Also recently released are Elgar’s Une voix dans le desert, featuring Jennifer France with the Hallé conducted by Sir Mark Elder (now available on the Hallé’s own label); and Wozzeck with the Houston Symphony conducted by Hans Graf (available on Naxos CD) featuring Marc Molomot alongside Anne Schwanewilms and Roman Trekel.

    

    

December 2016

Jennifer France nominated for multiple awards for 2016 season roles

Jennifer France has been nominated for the 2016 Schaunard Award by the Dutch online opera magazine Place de l’Opera for her debut performance as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Nederlandse Reisopera in September 2016. The production, directed by Laurence Dale, has also been nominated for Outstanding Opera Production.  

Of her performance, Peter Franken wrote in Opera Magazine of The Netherlands: "Jennifer France's coloratura "Großmächtige Prinzessin" proved an absolute showstopper. France could match up to Gruberova in her best years."

She has also been nominated for the Outstanding Achievement in Operatic Performance award for her performance as Adele in Die Fledermaus at Opera Holland Park in the What's On Stage Opera Poll 2017.

Hugh Canning wrote in the October 2016 issue of Opera: "Rising almost unobtrusively over this fine ensemble was Jennifer France's Adele, an obvious star turn ill-suited to life as a chambermaid - and singing both her Laughing Song and Audition piece with an easy, show-stopping bravura. I haven't seen an Adele to match her since Watson at Covent Garden back in 1989."

Jennifer France as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. Photo: Marco Borggreve.

Award winning Anush Hovhannisyan

Congratulations to Anush Hovhannisyan who has been awarded one of the three prizes at the 2016 Concours international de Bel Canto Vincenzo Bellini held at the Opéra de Marseille. She will perform a recital as part of the Gstaad New Year Music Festival. Judges included the esteemed coloratura soprano Mady Mesplé and new singing talent Pretty Yende.

 

August 2016

James Black artists feature in the inaugural season of new opera festival at the Grange

The inaugural Grange Festival opens in June 2017 under the Artistic Directorship of Michael Chance. Fiona Kimm sings Ericlea in the opening production of Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, to be directed by Tim Supple and conducted by Michael Chance. In Albert Herring, to be conducted by Steuart Bedford and directed by John Copley, Richard Pinkstone sings Albert Kathleen Wilkinson sings Mrs Herring, Alexander Robin Baker sings The Vicar and Timothy Nelson sings Sid.

        

   

 
Congratulations to award winner Eric Barry

We are delighted to announce that Eric Barry has won the 2016 Bel Canto prize at the Maryland Lyric Opera Vocal Competition, judged this year by legendary soprano Aprile Millo.

JBM artists enjoy major success at Opera Holland Park 2016

La bohème (Christine Collins Young Artists Performance):

“Julien Van Mellaerts sang a very stylish and lively Schaunard.” Mark Ronan - Reviews

Die Fledermaus:

“…in a stand out performance, Jennifer France's dispatch of her two soubrette showpiece arias was spot-on and dazzling." Rupert Christiansen - The Telegraph

“Samantha Price makes a lively, luscious-sounding Prince Orlofsky.” Warwick Thompson - BLOUIN ARTINFO

“…exceptionally well conducted by John Rigby.”  David Mellor - Daily Mail

The Queen of Spades:

"Star quality comes from Rosalind Plowright, whose Countess still boasts plenty of voice and a formidable stage presence." Richard Fairman - The Financial Times

These are just a selection of the reviews received by JBM artists during the 2016 Opera Holland Park season. A full roundup of Festival reviews will be posted in September.

 

June 2016

Congratulations to multiple award winner Julien van Mellearts

We are delighted to announce that Julien Van Mellaerts has won a 2016 Kiwi Music Scholarship towards his Artist Diploma in Opera at London’s Royal College of Music.

Julien also recently won first prizes in both the 2016 Brooks/van der Pump English Song Competition and the 2016 Joan Chissell Schumann Competition at the Royal College of Music, as well as winning a Countess Of Munster award for 2016.

May 2016

Alwyn Mellor withdraws from Opera North Ring Cycle

We are sad to announce that Alwyn Mellor will withdraw from scheduled performances in Opera North's Ring Cycle for personal reasons. See here for more details.

April 2016

Opera North’s world premiere of ‘Pleasure’ featuring Timothy Nelson

Timothy Nelson will sing the role of Nathan in Opera North's world premiere of Mark Simpson's new opera Pleasure, directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Nicolas Kok. 

Pleaure is an exciting collaborative project between Opera North, Aldeburgh Music and the Royal Opera House. With a cast of just four singers, including Lesley Garrett, the opera tells the story of a toilet attendant in a hedonistic gay club in the north of England, presided over by a bacchanialian drag queen. 

The opera premieres at Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds on 28th April and will also be performed at Liverpool Playhouse, the Britten Studio (Aldebugh) and the Lyric Hammersmith. See here for complete dates and details.

 

 

‘Dialogues des Carmelites’ featuring Rosalind Plowright wins Best DVD at BBC Music Magazine Awards

The Warner Erato recording of Dialogues des Carmelites (directed by Olivier Py) has won Best DVD at the 2016 BBC Music Magazine Awards. Rosalind Plowright, who sang Mme de Croissy, accepted the award on behalf of the team at King’s Place.

This highly acclaimed production - with a cast including Sandrine Piau, Veronique Gens and Patricia Petibon - was stylishly filmed at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

March 2016

Jennifer France nominated for the 2016 South Bank / The Times Breakthrough Award

Congratulations to Jennifer France who has been nominated in the Opera Category for the 2016 South Bank / The Times Breakthrough Award.

The winner, chosen in an online vote by Times readers and fans, will follow such young stars as the actor Luke Pasqualino and Tom Hiddleston, the dancer Aaron Sills, the soprano Sophie Bevan and the rock band Everything Everything.

“If you want to hear world class singing, that’s what you’ll get from Catherine Carby…”

The Independent's glowing revew of Catherine Carby's performance in English Touring Opera's production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. Full review here.

Click here for ETO's trailer, featuring Catherine.

January 2016

Angela Simkin joins the Royal Opera House Jette Parker scheme

Congratulations to Angela Simkin who will join the Jette Parker young artists scheme at the Royal Opera House, London, starting in the Autumn season this September 2016.

Toby Purser appointed ENO Mackerras Fellowship

Toby Purser has been appointed an ENO Mackerras Fellowship. The award is a joint initiative between ENO and the Philip Loubser Foundation, and celebrates the legacy of Sir Charles Mackerras. The ENO Mackerras Fellowship offers exceptionally talented young conductors the opportunity to work and develop at ENO, mentored by ENO Music Director Mark Wigglesworth.

November 2015

Julien Van Mellaerts wins 2015 Maureen Lehane Vocal Award

Congratulations to Juilen Van Mellaerts who has one first prize at the prestigious 2015 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards at the Wigmore Hall.

The panel of judges this year included the singers Mary Plazas and Adrian Thompson, and previous winners include the tenor Andrew Kennedy and baritone Christopher Maltman.

Carol Garcia wins Opera Actual magazine’s 2015 Young Artist award.

Congratulations mezzo-soprano Carol Garcia who has won the 2015 Young Artist Prize from Opera Actual magazine. A graduate of the Atelie Lyrique at the Opéra National de Paris and a Finalist at Operalia 2014, her engagements last season included Doña Damiana / La Clementina at the Teatro de la Zaruela, Madrid, Carmen at the Palau de Congressos de Santa Eulàlia de Ibiza, Mme Dangeville / Adriana Lecouvreur at the Opéra national de Paris and  Rosina / Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Opéra national de Montréal.

Carol Garcia makes her Italian debut as Charlotte / Werther at the Teatro Verdi Trieste later this month.