16 December 2022

End of Year News from Samling Artists

We begin our final news round-up of the year by welcoming our new Samling Artists who spent an intensive week at Marchmont House, ending with an afternoon public masterclass on 3 December. Look out for more photos and news in our next newsletter, to be published in January.

Pictured above: Samling Artists Daniela Popescu, Emilia Utter Mangsbo, Annabel Kennedy, Harry Grigg, Arthur Bruce, Jamie Woollard, Krystal Tunnicliffe and Ilan Kurtser with leaders Joan Rodgers, Paul-Emmanuel Thomas, Joseph Middleton, James Garnon and staff pianist Jo Ramadan.

Photo credit: Mark Pinder

International Opera Awards

We are delighted to report that Nardus Williams won the Rising Talent Award in this year’s International Opera Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of the opera world. She received her award at a ceremony held in Madrid’s Teatro Real, presented by Petroc Trewlany, during which she performed ‘Dove sono i bei momenti’ from Le nozze di Figaro. The ceremony is available to watch for free on Opera Vision’s YouTube channel (see link on this page). Our warmest congratulations to Nardus.

Grammy Awards

Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s new recording of Bach’s St John Passion with Nick Pritchard in the central role of Evangelist and William Thomas as Christus, has been nominated for Best Choral Performance in the 2023 Grammy awards.

Samling Artists in the North East

ECHO Rising Stars, Sage Gateshead

James Newby and Jospeh Middleton give a lunchtime recital at Sage Gateshead at 12 noon on Saturday 21 January as part of a day of music featuring artists selected for the European Concert Hall Organisation’s ‘Rising Stars’ scheme. James and Joseph perform a new commission by Judith Bingham Casanova in Lockdown and Robert Schumann’s Kerner Lieder Op.35.

The Dream of Gerontius, Sage Gateshead

Anna Huntley and Morgan Pearse are soloists in The Dream of Gerontius at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 25 February, with Cleveland Philharmonic Choir, Durham University Choral Society, the Mowbray Orchestra and conducted by John Forsyth MBE

Opera North

Opera North return to Newcastle Theatre Royal from 21 to 24 March with three productions. Samling Artists appearing are:

Puccini –Tosca

Andrés Presno – Cavaradossi

Janáček – The Cunning Little Vixen

Elin Pritchard – Vixen
Heather Lowe – Fox
The cast at other venues on the tour also includes James Rutherford as Forrester.

Richard Strauss – Ariadne auf Naxos

Jennifer France – Zerbinetta
Dominic Sedgwick – Harlequin
Amy Freston – Echo

English Touring Opera

English Touring Opera bring two productions to Gala Theatre Durham on 27 and 28 March, with Samling Artists taking major roles in both:

Donizetti – Lucrezia Borgia

Michel de Souza – Alfonso
Jerome Knox – Astolfo
Edward Jowle – Gubetta

Rossini – Il viaggo a Reims

Lucy Hall – Madame Cortese
Susanna Hurrell – Corinna
Jerome Knox – Don Prudenzio
Edward Jowle – Antonio

English Touring Opera’s spring tour also includes a revival of their 2017 production of Giulio Cesare with Susanna Hurrell as Cleopatra, Carolyn Dobbin as Cornelia and Edward Jowle as Curio.

Performance News

Beth Taylor makes her role and festival debut in Salzburg appearing as Anna in Berlioz Les Troyens with John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. The cast also includes William Thomas as Narbul.

One of our new Samling Artists, Arthur Bruce, takes on his first contract at the Royal Opera House, covering Gamekeeper in Rusalka. Arthur told us “I’ll be covering another Samling Artist, Ross Ramgobin! Seeing Ross sing Britten’s ‘Owen Wingrave’ in Edinburgh in 2014 is one of things that got me into opera, so I’m very glad to be covering him.” 

The cast also includes David Butt Philip as Prince.

Benjamin Appl makes his Sydney Opera House debut in July with a ‘Liederabend’ recital in the venue’s Utzon Music Room with ‘Nocturne’ a programme of visions, dreams and fantasies.

Although it will be winter in Australia, we imagine the weather will be somewhat warmer than it was in Benjamin’s Winterreise film, with pianist James Baillieu, which was shown again on BBC Four on Sunday 11 December and is available to UK viewers on BBC i-Player:


‘In Bethlehem Above’ by Yshani Perinpanayagam is included on a new album by Somerville Choir Oxford of Christmas music by women composers, directed by William Dawes. Yshani’s piece is one of eleven world premiere recordings on the the album, which was named as BBC Music Magazine’s Christmas choice.

Continuing with BBC Music Magazine recommendations, their Opera Choice for December is a new recording of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito by Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, directed by Ben Glassberg, with Nicky Spence in the title role and Anna Stéphany as Sesto.

Reviewer George Hall writes “The title role is difficult to cast, but Nicky Spence has the range, the fluency and the technique to bring off all the vocal challenges while equally entering fully into the character’s plight … Equally finely realised is the role of Sesto, delivered by Anna Stéphany with expertise and tonal richness, as well as exceptional understanding.”

… and finally

We leave you with an unusual seasonal treat. Nick Pritchard appears in one of a series of films made by The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment re-imagining famous pop music videos with baroque arias. Nick sings ‘Thou shalt break them’ from Messiah, in a tribute to the video for ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ by The Verve – and can you spot two other Samling Artists amongst the extras?

We wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and we look forward to an exciting year of music ahead.