19 July 2014 at 4.02pm | Comment on this article
The future stars of opera take to the stage on Sunday 20 July in the annual Jette Parker Young Artist Summer Performance, which this year features the first acts of Donizetti’s La Favorite and Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
The performance is directed by JPYA Stage Director Greg Eldridge and conducted by JPYA conductors Paul Wingfield and Michele Gamba.
‘The Programme’s function is to form a future generation of singers, conductors, répétiteurs and directors,’ says David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Programme. ‘It immerses them in the workings of an international company of the highest possible standards, to help them form their own artistic identity and give them guidance on their trajectory through the business. The purpose of the Summer Performance is to provide a platform to showcase them and what they’ve been doing over the past few years.’
At the end of the 2013/14 Season, Jette Parker Principal Jihoon Kim and six Young Artists will leave the scheme to embark on their future careers: soprano Dušica Bijelić, tenor David Butt Philip, baritones Michel de Souza and Ashley Riches and conductor/répétiteurs Paul Wingfield and Michele Gamba. Michele will take up a position next Season as Jette Parker Associate Conductor at the Royal Opera House.
Over the course of the Season, we profiled second-year Young Artists:
From hosting a children’s programme on television when she was just 12, Dušica moved quickly into opera. She made her Covent Garden debut in Laurent Pelly's production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, going on to perform in Nabucco, Don Carlo, La rondine, Parsifal, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Le nozze di Figaro. However, it was covering the role of Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites that blew her away. Read Dušica’s profile.
David Butt Philip
Whether listening to hip hop juggernauts Jurassic 5 and drum and bass legend Roni Size, or performing in Strauss’s mighty Die Frau ohne Schatten, David is passionate about all kind of music. ‘The breadth of repertory at The Royal Opera is amazing’, he says. ‘This year alone, I’m performing Puccini, Wagner, Verdi, Strauss and Poulenc. Last year it was Meyerbeer, Verdi, Mozart, Britten, Strauss and Puccini.’ Read David’s profile.
Michel de Souza
Michel had his first taste of opera as a nine-year-old boy performing in a production of Carmen, an experience that triggered his love of performance. ‘With opera… you are not yourself, but a character, and you can lose yourself in this character.’ This Season, Michel has performed in productions including Die Frau ohne Schatten, Dialogues des Carmélites and La traviata, which was the production he saw on his first visit to the Royal Opera House just four or five years ago. Read Michel’s profile.
Since joining the Programme two years ago, Michele has worked on over fourteen productions. He considers preparation key, and likens learning music to using a good marinade: ‘I need time to really get into the music; I have to be able to play it through, listen to it and live with it for a while. It’s like using a good olive oil, I need to let it marinate!’ Next year, he takes up a position as Jette Parker Associate Conductor, assisting Music Director Antonio Pappano on six productions. ‘Tony has an unmistakable quality of sound – "the Pappano sound". It emanates from him in the pit and the rehearsal room’, he says. Read Michele’s profile.
‘When I was in high school, I was a member of an ensemble, but it was always a hobby. I never dreamt I’d sing at an opera house', says Jihoon. However, since his schools days, the Jette Parker Principal has spent three years at the Royal Opera House, performing alongside the likes of Plácido Domingo and John Tomlinson and taking on a huge variety of roles, including that of an Ogre in Xavier Montsalvatge's El gato con botas. Read Jihoon’s profile.
Ashley, who only joined a choir at 15, began taking singing seriously in the King’s College Choir at Cambridge University, a period he describes as ‘a real lesson in dedication and collaboration’. His performances on the Programme have included Moralès in Carmen, a soldier who ‘really sets the tone for what life is like in a hot, sensuous and sweaty Seville’, Mandarin in Turandot, and roles in L’Ormindo, La traviata, Dialogues des Carmélites and Ariadne auf Naxos. Read Ashley’s profile.
As a youngster, Paul harboured ambitions to perform on the West End, writing letters to bands requesting to be their pianist. Now, as conductor/répétiteur on the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, Paul’s role includes acting as a pianist and coach in rehearsals, stage duties (conducting off-stage musicians), conducting Young Artist performances and playing keyboard instruments with the orchestra in the pit. ‘You have lots of different hats as a répétiteur’, he says. ‘... Without them in rehearsal, nothing would be able to happen at all!’ However, he still finds time to learn to tap dance. Read Paul’s profile.
Young Artists remaining on the Programme for the second year are sopranos Anush Hovhannisyan and Kiandra Howarth, mezzo-sopranos Nadezhda Karyazina and Rachel Kelly, tenor Luis Gomes and stage director Greg Eldridge. All joined the programme in 2013.
Find out more about the Jette Parker Young Artists starting in September 2014.
In addition to Main Stage performances, Jette Parker Young Artists will perform La scala di seta in the Linbury Studio Theatre in October as part of Meet the Young Artists Week. They also appear in regular lunchtime recitals, which are free to attend and take place in the Crush Room, Linbury Studio Theatre or the Paul Hamlyn Hall.
The JPYA Summer Performance takes place on 20 July at 2pm. Tickets are still available.