News

November 29, 2019

Outstanding critical acclaim for Jennifer France’s debut performances as The Princess

Jennifer France received outstanding critical acclaim for her debut performances as The Princess in Philip Glass’ Orphée with English National Opera.


“First in Chanel black, then in Schiaparelli pink to show her perilous new fondness for the sunlit upper world, Jennifer France as the Princess made a truly auspicious Coliseum debut. Her duets with (Nicholas) Lester, as she entices the poet into her realm of shadows only to despatch him back andjeopardiseher own status as an immortal, had a show-stealing Gothic glamour and shimmer, the voice angelic and fleshly at once.”

Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk

 

 “Jennifer France (ENO debut) as a high soprano Princess (her love aria and duet with Orphée piercingly dramatic) is a couturier’s dream (costumes black and white and then negative reverse). Her surprise magenta gown brings gasps from the auditorium.”

Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

 

“…Jennifer France’s electrifying Princess, weaving her spells at the top of the voice, of hint of violence in its razor edge. This is another exciting ENO debut.”

Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper

 

“The best of the singers hail from the underworld, Jennifer France being icily brilliant as the Princess, bringer of death…”

Richard Fairman, The Financial Times

 

“The excellent cast is dominated by France, by turns glacial, gloriously imperious and exquisite as the Princess.”

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

 

“Jennifer France, making her ENO debut as the Princess, cut an icy path through the show with sharp costume and clean, precise sound.”

Benjamin Poore, Music OMH

 

“Jennifer France’s Princess manages to be enigmatic and imperious, embracing everything the dour Eurydice is not. There is an elegance to France’s Princess of Death, a rhythmic power to her characterisation of the role which is faultless. It isn’t just the crystal-like purity, the diamond-cut precision of her singing which is so striking but the way she acts which also gives this assumption such presence. Standing centre stage, swatched in black. She can sometimes seem larger than life; walking in the shadow scene there is a rhythm to her steps which moves in complete harmony with the music. She seems a source of mystery, no more she than when she disappears through the mirrors and fades into the darkness. The voice is tenebrous, yet completely resolute. There is a haunting, but formidable projection to what she sings. And yet she is fundamentally human, capable of seeming completely tragic as she resolves to forego her own love.”

Marc Bridle, Opera Today

 

“…the night’s most striking performance was Jennifer France as the Princess. Alluring in vocal artistry as well as adept as an actor, France’s performance of the Princess was effortless. Stalking across the stage in patent stilettos, this femme fatale was acutely attentive to performance direction. Dynamic and tonal demands were met hand-in-glove, with France’s pianissimi notably her defining skill.”

Shadi Seifouri, Plays To See

 

“France has a clarion soprano of great beauty and flexibility all elements of which were on display. Not only a vocal triumph, France encapsulated the dangerous, enigmatic beauty of the Princess.”

Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

 

“…above all it’s down to Jennifer France as the Princess: sensuous and regal in her movements, elegant in her gestures and in absolute, thrilling command of a voice that expanded, through the drama, from diamond-cut poise to tremulous, neon-lit passion. And yet there’s no sense of France upstaging anyone. She’s the dark star around which this whole wondrous spectacle orbits: ravishing, poignant and leaving an oddly uplifting sense that some mysteries are beyond the reach even of art. When in Act One the Princess glided around the sleeping Orphée to a yearning flute melody, a vast image of her unblinking, stricken face flickering behind her, I found myself willing it to continue — and actually resenting the approaching interval. I think the word for that is a triumph.”

Richard Bratby, The Spectator

 

“…Death, a demandingly high coloratura role that would have taxed Joan Sutherland, heroically taken here by Jennifer France…”

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

 

“A strong cast is rightly dominated by Jennifer France, sustaining preposterously stratospheric lines as the Princess…”
Richard Morrison, The Times

November 28, 2019

BBC Broadcasts during December

Hear Alessandro Fisher sing Finzi’s Dies Natalis with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing on 13 December 2019 and Angela Simkin and Fiona Kimm in Sullivan’s Haddon Hall with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John Andrews on 19 December 2019.
August 4, 2019

Jennifer France debuts at the Salzburg Festival

Congratulations to Jennifer France who made a triumphant debut at the Salzburg Festival last month singing Pascal Dusapin's Medamaterial with Vocalconsort Berlin and the Akademie für Alte Musik conducted by Franck Ollu.
 
For Larissa Schütz at Austria Presse Agentur, Larissa Schütz, “The secret weapon in this thrilling evening was Jennifer France. In addition to her aptitude for contemporary music, the soprano is also known for her acting qualities, skilfully deployed during the short of hour of this performance, sometimes in monologue (spoken as well as sung), sometimes in dialogue with the chorus and speakers.” For Gottfried Frank Kasparek at Drehpunktkultur,
“Jennifer France meets the demands of this extremely difficult role with dedication, a seemingly effortless coloratura soprano and also suitably expressive facial expressions. As far as possible, within a concert environment, she presents, rather than a fury, a deeply wounded woman drifting in to madness.” For Walter Weidringer at Die Presse, “Dusapin pushes his protagonist again and again up to the high E in her painful arabesques, which is far from child’s play, but the famous soprano Jennifer France masters this brilliantly. She stammers, cries and whines, or even, taken aback, speaks, her slight accent appropriate for a character who is a stranger: hurrah for a short but intense evening.” For Karl Harb at Salzburger Nachrichten, “Whether pushing her brightly projecting voice to stratospheric heights, or engaging in darkly whispered speaking passages, Jennifer France delineates the stages of her journey from thought to action, from indictment to insanity, from anger to despair, depending on her state of mind, even sometimes retreating in to silence. Even in a concert performance, one always felt that one was in a theatre.” (Photographer: Marco Borrelli)
May 30, 2019

Happy Birthday Rosalind Plowright!

As she celebrates her 70th Birthday, Rosalind Plowright OBE continues her performances as Contessa di Coigny in the revival of Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and sings Madame Arvidson in Opera Holland Park’s new production of Un ballo in maschera.

 

 

April 30, 2019

Cardiff Singer Of The World 2019

James Black Management is pleased and proud to announce that Julien Van Mellaerts will represent New Zealand at Cardiff Singer of the World 2019. Winner of the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, the 2017 Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and the Maureen Forrester Award at the 2018 Concours musical international de Montréal, Julien Van Mellaerts graduated from London's Royal College of Music with the Tagore Gold Medal.

December 5, 2018

International Classical Music Awards

Two recordings featuring JBM artists have been nominated for the 2019 International Classical Music Awards:

Ensemble Diderot's German Cantatas with Solo Violin on Audax Records, conducted by Johannes Pramsohler featuring Jorge Navarro Colorado singing 'Ich will in aller Not' by Daniel Eberlin.

Classical Opera’s Grabmusik & Bastien und Bastienne featuring Alessandro Fisher as Bastien, on Signum.

   

November 2, 2018

Critics praise Jorge Navarro Colorado in Jonas at ETO

There has been critical praise for Jorge Navarro Colorado in his debut with English Touring Opera singing the title role in Carissimi’s Jonas.

For The Guardian, Tim Ashley writes “It is deeply touching and Jorge Navarro Colorado sings Jonas’s great prayer with beauty and sincerity.”

For Sam Smith at Music OMH, “Jorge Navarro Colorado stands out, in particular, in the tile role.” 

For George Hall at Opera Now, “Jorge Navarro Colorado proves strikingly eloquent in the eponymous role of the Old Testament prophet...”

For The Spectator, Alexandra Coghlan praises “a strong central performance by Jorge Navarro Colorado.,..”

For The Times, Rebecca Franks writes “Just as Dido sings her great lament, Jonas prays for forgiveness, and the fervent devotion of the tenor Jorge Navarro Colorado feels genuine.”

Jonas plays in a triple bill with I Will Not Speak (staged madrigals by Gesualdo) and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas until 22 November.

 

August 31, 2018

Reviews for Rosalind Plowright in Vanessa at Glyndebourne Festival 2018

Rosalind Plowright made her Glyndebourne Festival debut this Summer in Keith Warner’s new production of Vanessa conducted by Jakub Hrůša, reviewing much critical acclaim for her performance as The Old Baroness. A selection of the reviews:

“Rosalind Plowright makes her presence felt in the vocally unrewarding role of the Old Baroness, Vanessa's mother, who sings only to those who connect to life.” David Nice – The Arts Desk

“The Old Baroness is principally a silent watcher who doesn’t have much to sing, but some of her interventions come at crucial moments and Rosalind Plowright made the most of them: her retort to Erika that “he saw your money before he saw your eyes” was the most telling line of the evening.“
David Karlin - Bachtrack

“As conceived by Menotti, the Old Baroness is prone to mysterious, emblematic silence yet Rosalind Plowright manages to convey the bitter knowingness behind her withdrawal.” David Gutman - Classical Source

“Rosalind Plowright’s Old Baroness is a terrifying portrait of moral rectitude; though physically frail, the Baroness is a commanding presence, her silence both the judge and the punishment.” Claire Seymour - Opera Today

“…Rosalind Plowright magisterial as the taciturn Old Baroness.” Yehuda Shapiro - The Stage

“Rosalind Plowright captured the inflexible, unbending character of the Old Baroness.“ Robert Beattie - Seen and Heard International

“…as the Old Baroness Rosalind Plowright effects an imposing, often forbidding presence even when silent, garnishing the singing part of her role with her wonderful fruity mezzo.” Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times

“Rosalind Plowright and Donnie Ray Albert etch strong cameos as Vanessa’s mother and the family doctor.” Rupert Christiansen - The Telegraph

“…as the Old Baroness Rosalind Plowright effects an imposing, often forbidding presence even when silent, garnishing the singing part of her role with her wonderful fruity mezzo.” Stephen Pettitt - The Times

“…Rosalind Plowright, on fabulous dowager form…” Mark Valencia - WhatsOnStage

August 31, 2018

Autumn 2018 new season highlights

Autumn is already upon us! This new season sees a wide range of engagements for the artists of James Black Management. Here are a few highlights:

 

SOPRANOS

Marlena Devoe, having won a 2018 Leonard Ingrams Award from Garsington Opera at Wormsley, makes her debut with New Zealand Opera as Mimì in La bohème.

Jennifer France sings Her in the UK première of Dusapin’s Passion with Music Theatre Wales.

Anush Hovhannisyan sings Violetta in La traviata for her debut with Welsh National Opera.

Alwyn Mellor sings Gerhilde in Die Walküre for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Anita Watson sings Donna Anna in Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera.

 

MEZZO-SOPRANOS

Catherine Carby sings Siegrune in Die Walküre for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Rosalind Plowright, having made her Glyndebourne Festival Opera debut in Summer 2018, sings Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon for Angers Nantes Opera.

Samantha Price sings Sonia in War and Peace for her debut with Welsh National Opera.

Angela Simkin sings Flosshilde in Das Rheingold / Götterdämmerung for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Sarah Pring sings Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor for English National Opera.

 

COUNTERTENORS

Patrick Terry joins the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

 

TENORS

Alessandro Fisher, having made his Salzburg Festival debut in Summer 2018, joins the BBC New Generation Artist Scheme.

Peter Van Hulle sings Torquemada in L’heure espagnole for Mid Wales Opera.

Richard Pinkstone makes his debut with Scottish Opera on the 2018 Opera Highlights Tour.

 

BARITONES

Alexander Robin Baker sings King Hermann Augustus in Candide for Bergen National Opera.

Adrian Clarke sings Father Palmer in Silent Night for Opera North.

Stephen Gadd sings Monterone in Rigoletto for Scottish Opera.

Felix Kemp records Pierrot in Dame Ethel Smith’s Fête Galante with Odaline de la Martínez and Lontano for Retrospect Opera.

Ross Ramgobin makes his debut at the BBC Proms as Counsel for the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury.

Julien Van Mellaerts, Winner of the Maureen Forrester Award at the 2018 Concours musical international de Montréal, makes his debut with New Zealand Opera as Schaunard in La bohème.

 

BASS

Lukas Jakobski sings Leuthold in Guillaume Tell at the Theater an der Wien.

 

CONDUCTORS

Nathan Fifield conducts Labyrinth (ballets by Martha Graham, George Balanchine, Joseph Hernandez and Ohad Naharin) for the Semperoper Ballett, Dresden.

Toby Purser conducts Stanford’s The Travelling Companion for New Sussex Opera, to be recorded by SOMM CD.

John Rigby conducts Classical Spectacular for Raymond Gubbay Ltd at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

July 31, 2018

Critical acclaim for Jennifer France at Opera Holland Park

Jennifer France received outstanding critical acclaim for her performance as Zerbinetta in Opera Holland Park’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos this summer.

“This living jewel in opera’s crown” WhatsOnStage

“There hasn’t mean a more meaningful Zerbinetta than young Jennifer France’s...” David Nice - The Arts Desk

“…surely the Zerbinetta of our dreams: nimble in her acting as she is agile in her singing; she exudes charisma and guile in equal measure.” Matthew Rye - Bachtrack

“Jennifer France’s Zerbinetta brings the Composer down to earth with a lovely blend of pragmatism and tenderness, then in the Opera opens out into a sensational account of the long coloratura aria ‘Großmächtige Prinzessin...” Peter Reed - Classical Source

“Jennifer France’s sparky Zerbinetta rises to the virtuoso challenge of her showpiece aria with aplomb.” George Hall - The Financial Times

“Jennifer France, whose sparkly, girlish Zerbinetta wins the evening.” Erica Jeal - The Guardian

“Jennifer France is a revelation as Zerbinetta, carrying off ‘So war es mit Pagliazzo’ with a glistening sound, excellent coloratura and real panache.” Sam Smith - Music OMH

“Jennifer France was the true Sirius in a stellar show, delivering her vocal acrobatics with astonishing athleticism, precision and expressive nuance, all the while performing a teasing strip-show. Languor and assertiveness were wonderfully melded in sensual sublimity. It was hard to tell who enjoyed it most; France or the mesmerised audience.” Claire Seymour - Opera Today

“Jennifer France’s fickle, sexy Zerbinetta…on terrific form…” Fiona Maddocks - The Observer

“Her command of the music means that she can negotiate the felicitates of the staging with ease; but it was the vocal fireworks that were most memorable. She commands the stage with her mesmerising presence; her sound enchants the ear.” Colin Clarke - Seen and Heard International

“…a show stopping coloratura striptease, performed by (Jennifer) France with spectacular vocal panache.” Richard Bratby - The Spectator

“Jennifer France embodies the role of the life-loving Zerbinetta, sparkling in the coloratura showpiece ‘Großmächtige Prinzessin’.” Inge Kjemtrup - The Stage

“…a dazzling display of coloratura singing…” Claire Colvin – The Sunday Express

“…Jennifer France’s star-turn as Zerbinetta.” Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times

“(Jennifer) France delivers coloratura thrills whilst swinging across the stage in the skimpiest of costumes.” Neil Fisher - The Times

“When it comes to Zerbinetta, a role of a gold for a coloratura soprano, we’re in star-turn territory. Jennifer France has been championed by OHP for several years now and she returns the company’s faith in her by delivering one of the performances of the year. Decked out like Marlene Dietrich, France performs an elaborate striptease during her 12-minute showstopping aria and, I swear, makes eye contact with every hot-blooded male and female in the audience. More importantly, this living jewel in opera’s crown sings the heck out of her music - helium notes and all.” Mark Valencia - WhatsOnStage