31 March 2021

News from Samling Artists – March 2021

Opera at Comic Relief

A brave team of comedians learned how to sing Nessum Dorma in 24 hours for BBC Comic Relief, but how did they do it? Nicky Spence, pictured above with comedian Jayde Adams, was part of the team at English National Opera who pulled it all together. He wrote on Twitter ‘Jayde has been a wonder to teach – embracing this nosebleed inducing learning curve with grace, humour (obvs) and utter bravery! Can’t wait to see her sing on Friday’. You can see how they got on here on this BBC highlight film.

Nicky has also been generously giving his time as a volunteer Covid-19 vaccinator.

ENO Messiah on BBC2

Nardus Williams and Benson Wilson are among a line-up of star soloists for a special Easter performance by English National Opera of highlights from Handel’s Messiah, to be shown on BBC2 on Saturday 3 April 2021,18:00. Watch online here (UK only).

Contract news

Congratulations to Kiandra Howarth who has secured a coveted Fest Contract at Staatsoper Hannover (where she’ll be joining fellow Samling Artist James Newby). Kiandra’s upcoming roles in Hannover include Fiordiligi in Mozart Così fan tutte in June and Desdemona in Verdi Otello, Michaela, Bizet Carmen, and Contessa Mozart Le nozze di Figaro later in the year.

Season announcements

The Royal Opera House have announced their first full season of productions since the pandemic began. We expect to see many more Samling Artists when the full casts are announced,  but so far, we know that Anush Hovhannisyan is one of six sopranos to sing Violetta in Richard Eyre’s classic production of La traviata; Ed Lyon appears in a staging of Handel’s late oratorio Theodora; Nicky Spence sings the title role in Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila and Laca in Janáček Jenůfa; and Christopher Maltmann takes the role of Iago in Verdi Otello.

Wigmore Hall have released details of their next batch of streamed concerts, among them a lunchtime recital by Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu on Monday 12 April which the New York Times have picked as one of their ten global streaming highlights for April. Watch it on Wigmore Hall’s website or listen on BBC Radio 3.


Nicky Spence and William Vann appear on Volume 2 of a project by the Vaughan Williams Society to record Vaughan Williams’ complete folksong arrangements. Released on 26 March, this volume includes no fewer than 15 world premiere recordings.

Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu

Watch Samling Artists Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu at Wigmore Hall on 12 April