We are all thrilled for 2019 #TaitAwardee Kiandra Howarth for winning this years AUD$30,000 Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award and Foundation#BelCantoAward which was recently announced in Sydney. Kiandra was also awarded the AUD$1000 Audience Choice Prize, and was also placed third in the Elizabeth Connell Prize for Aspiring Dramatic Sopranos, winning $5000. The Gold Coast-born soprano holds the distinction of being the first finalist to ever participate in both competitions, Kiandra is a former member of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme,
Kiandra secured her Bel Canto Award win with a performance of Dove sono from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from Puccini’s La Rondine. In the Elizabeth Connell Prize, the soprano sang Das war sehr gut, Mandryka from Strauss’ Arabella and Senza Mamma from Puccini’s Suor Angelica.
Second place in the Bel Canto Award was awarded to New Zealand soprano Eliza Boom who won the AUD$10,000 Richard Bonynge Award, while Australian soprano Michelle Ryan received the AUD$5000 DECCA Award & the Tait Memorial Trust Award for placing third.
Earlier this year Kiandra and fellow Tait Awardee, Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano delighted our Tait Friends singing, “We’ll Gather Lilacs” by Ivor Novello at our annual Friends event at Stoke Lodge, the official residence of the Australian High Commissioner, London. We thank the High Commissioner, His Excellency the Hon George Brandis QC most sincerely for inviting us into his home for such a special occasion.
To learn more about the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation please click here
Sophie Moffatt, dancer, will perform Kenneth MacMillan’s choreographic interpretation of this solo. Sophie recently performed for The Trust at The Leanne Benjaimin Awards at The Royal Ballet School. She ended the evening with the solo from Giselle, coached by Leanne Benjamin OBE.
Sophie will be coached by Australian prima ballerina and Tait Patron, Leanne Benjamin OBE. This video recording is of Leanne performing this piece at the Royal Opera House.
Chad Vindin will accompany on the piano. We are thrilled that The MacMillan Estate have kindly allowed us to perform this piece
Excerpts from Semiramide, Faust, La Traviata, La Sonnambula. Harwood, Sinclair, Elms; Pavarotti, J. Alexander, Opthof, Rouleau, Cross, others. Sutherland-Williamson Grand Opera Company Orchestra and Chorus, Bonynge/Weibel. Desirée Records CD 2965 (Norbeck, Peters & Ford, dist., 802-868-9300)
On July 17, 1951, Joan Sutherland left Sydney, Australia, with a purse full of prize money and the dream of singing at Covent Garden. Fourteen years later, she returned, the centerpiece of an old-fashioned, rigorous tour presented by J. C. Williamson Ltd. and organized by Sir Frank Tait, who had arranged legendary Nellie Melba tours for the same company in 1911, 1924 and 1928. In the space of fourteen weeks, Sutherland sang forty-three performances in four Australian cities — twelve Violettas, eleven Lucias, eight Semiramides, six Sonnambula Aminas, and six Faust Marguerites.
The arduous task of artistic director was given to Richard Bonynge, who cast the other principals, oversaw everything and, of course, conducted. After some rather spiky moments upon arrival, when the local press attempted to create controversy about Sutherland’s lengthy absence from her homeland, the tour was a phenomenal success, creating an interest in opera that ultimately resulted in the establishment of several resident companies. Sutherland was in spectacular form for the tour, establishing herself as a national heroine through the glory of her singing. Conductor and Sutherland-chronicler Brian Castles-Onion has painstakingly assembled tapes, chosen excerpts from various “pirate” sources and released this two-CD set with the blessing of the diva.
Although sound quality is variable (only the Sonnambula excerpts are in really poor sound, however), the vocalism is of such prodigious quality that these documents are a must for Sutherland fans and for students of singing. Reservations held by some about the lack of clarity in the soprano’s diction, her sometimes-muddy middle register, her “cool” temperament, will surely be diminished — if not obliterated — by evidence to the contrary on these discs. And her trademark assets — supreme agility, exquisite high E-flats and that amazing trill, are represented in abundance. Here you’ll find Sutherland at her peak. Castles-Onion has omitted selections from Lucia altogether, feeling that the role is well represented elsewhere. He has chosen not to include “Bel raggio” in the Semiramide group for the same reason. But what is included constitutes a feast of virtuoso singing that confirms memories of the soprano one sometimes doubts as too good to be true.
Both Semiramide-Arsace duets are here, the first with the impressive Australian mezzo Lauris Elms, the second with the vocally fearless Monica Sinclair. Sutherland is an imperious, authoritative Semiramide in ensembles, melting vocally in the amorous moments, blending perfectly with both her duet partners. The florid Rossini singing is the kind that makes you press the “repeat” button repeatedly. Even more fascinating for its rarity is Sutherland’s “live” Marguerite, beautifully partnered by John Alexander, a fine Met Faust at that time. The jewel song is peerless, capped by a long trill and even longer B-natural, all in one breath. The love duet and final prison scene and trio are impassioned and beautifully phrased, and the French language brings Sutherland’s voice forward to a lighter, more youthful place, befitting the character. Richard Cross is the excellent Méphistophélès.
In some Traviata selections, we encounter the great “find” of the tour, the young Luciano Pavarotti, who also partnered the diva in La Sonnambula. The Traviata excerpts, which include all the Violetta-Alfredo duets (including the denunciation at Flora’s party, with Alexander as Alfredo), Violetta’s arias, the great duet with Germont and the finale of the opera, are miked closely, to thrilling effect. The textures of Pavarotti’s youthful instrument and Sutherland’s in its prime provide ample goose bumps, and Cornelius Opthof is a superb elder Germont. Violetta was Sutherland’s favorite role, and as it was not always her most successful, she worked extra hard to be convincing in it. In Australia, she succeeded. Finally, La Sonnambula is represented by two excerpts: the gorgeous “D’un pensiero … non è questa, ingrato core” ensemble of Act II, and Amina’s final cabaletta, “Ah, non giunge.” Some may argue with Sutherland and Bonynge’s breakneck speed, but it expresses perfectly both Amina’s joy in awakening to love and Sutherland’s sheer joy in singing. The inclusion of this piece, always a heart-stopping Sutherland moment in the theater, is most welcome, despite the poor sound quality. The discs conclude with a short curtain speech in Melbourne by the overwhelmed prima donna. Bonynge’s conducting is stylish and spirited; he seems to be, along with everyone involved, swept away by the occasion. The Faust selections are also handled very well, by alternate conductor William Weibel.
IRA SIFF, Opera News. April 2003
To buy this recording and other rare discs of Dame Joan please click here
For the past 36 year’s, the aim of this non-profit Australian organisation has been to raise money to help assist our most talented young opera singers fulfil their given potential. With the development of the Foundation in 2010 this has given us greater exposure and opportunities to expand on the activities the Society has presented since its inception in 1978. To date, we have awarded over $300,000 worth of scholarships and study grants and hope to further develop our involvement with these young singers by presenting masterclasses, workshops and a mentoring programme.
From the home page of the JS & RB Foundation website
The Trust looks forward to meeting the 2013 Tait Memorial Trust Prize winner, soprano Marlena Devoe from New Zealand who will be offered a prestigious London concert platform as part of her prize from the Bel Canto Awards . Dame Joan Sutherland was one of our founding patrons and loyal supporters due to her long association with Sir Frank Tait ( Isla Baring’s father) the Tait family and J C Williamson’s. The Sutherland-Williamson tour of Australia in 1965 is legendary and was a fitting epitaph to the life of Sir Frank and the enterprise of the Tait brothers.
We wish the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation well and salute the work they are doing in supporting emerging operatic talent in Australia.