One of the more curious things you might have noted about the passing of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies earlier this year is how a composer who was such an enfant terrible back in the 1960s could end up the fondly admired Master of the Queen’s Music with a host of ‘popular’ compositions to his name like the catchy An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, or suites of songs to be sung by Scottish schoolkids.
Next week in Sydney, the ambitious Verbrugghen Ensemble are aiming to put the record straight by winding back the clock on Sir Peter in a programme entitled Of Magic and Madness, the centrepiece of which will be a performance of one of his seminal early works: Eight Songs for a Mad King. Directed by Kate Gaul, the production will feature baritone Simon Lobelson as the deranged King George III as well as a bold new work by composer Matthew Hindson (This Year’s Apocalypse) and the lyrical Sextuor Mystique by Heitor Villa-Lobos.
We are delighted to report that young Australian soprano, Tabatha McFadyen was awarded the Tait Prize which gives her a coveted London performance platform. Tabatha will make her London debut singing for us at our2015 Tait Winter Prom at the Royal College of Music on Monday 23rd November at 7pm.
Tabatha McFadyen, soprano, 2nd from right in white – attached photo. She came second in the competition – it was very close.
Tabatha was initially trained at the Queensland Conservatorium, graduating in 2013 with First Class Honours and the University Medal. She recently undertook intensive post-graduate studies at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Tabatha won the 2015 Opera & Arts Support Group Scholarship, the 2014 49th International Dvořák Singing Competition (Czech Republic), Mietta Song Competition, Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Awards, 32nd National Liederfest, was a finalist in the 2012 Bel Canto Award, runner-up in the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Operatic Aria and a finalist in the 2012 Australian Singing Competition winning the Mozart Opera Institute Award and the Nelly Apt Scholarship. Her stage roles have included: Musetta, Zerlina, Titania in The Fairy Queen, Suor Genovieffa, Countess Almaviva for QCGU, Susanna for Opera New England, Nina for Neglected Musicals’ presentation of Dear World (Jerry Herman) and Prilepa in Queen of Spades with SSO under Ashkenazy. An accomplished recitalist, she has been a regular guest artist with Brisbane contemporary music ensemble Kupka’s Piano, a featured artist as part of the EBCC Contemporary Music Festival in 2015 and has collaborated on world premieres with several composers. As part of the 2015 Port Fairy Music Festival she will perform with long-standing musical partner Alex Raineri, the Arcadia Quintet and Press, Play which will then transfer to the Melbourne Festival. Highlights on the concert platform include performances with Camerata of St. John’s led by Brendan Joyce & the Queensland Symphony Orchestra with Johannes Fritzsch.
We’re very happy to report that the harvest 2015 is in the cellars of our growers and best of all it seems the quality of the fruit and juice is outstanding. Soon we’ll be starting to assemble the new vintage and we are ecstatic that we should be able to produce something truly special for you. October is the start of the mellow season in Provence and the vineyards are producing a last fireworks of colours and other crops like Figs and Pomegranates are coming into season – this really is a great time to come down and visit if you get the chance!
” …penetrating, glint-edged clarity.” The Australian, July 7, 2015
Russell Harcourt is steadily gaining recognition on the operatic stage and concert platform throughout the UK and Australasia for a refined brilliance of vocal colour and the comic charm of his characterisations.
Russell studied voice with Graham Pushee and made his operatic début in 2007 as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He made his Australian concert début in 2009 as a guest artist at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and made his Royal Opera House début in the Crush Room in the Deloitte Ignite 2010 series.
Russell has recently returned from a critically acclaimed performance of Andronico in Vivaldi’s rarely performed pasticcio, Bajazet, for Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera. Other career highlights to date include the role of Athamas in Handel’s Semele under Sir Charles Mackerras; an extensive tour with English Touring Opera including roles in Handel’s Agrippina and Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea; performances of Messiah with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, alongside Teddy Tahu Rhodes, under the baton of Richard Gill; and Corrado in Vivaldi’s Griselda, also with Pinchgut Opera.
Recent engagements include Countertenor 1 (cover) The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Hunahpu (cover) Indian Queen, both for director Peter Sellars at English National Opera, Pisandro The Return of Ulysses for Iford Arts Festival under Christian Curnyn and Soloist in the European premiere of Andrew Ford’s The Past for counter-tenor, flute and string orchestra with Ruthless Jabiru under Kelly Lovelady, Australian & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts.
Other engagements include Volano Il Giasone under Jane Glover; Fox/Coachman (cover) The Adventures of Pinocchio Opera North; Armindo (cover) Partenope Opera Australia (Sydney and Melbourne); Zelim (cover) La verità in cimento, Licida (cover) L’Olimpiade both for Garsington Opera and Alto soloist Vanguard Australian Ballet.
Oratorio experience includes alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, Israel in Egypt, J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, excerpts from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and excerpts from Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, Magnificat and Introduction and Gloria.
Prizes and scholarships include Hariclea Darclée Special Award for Excellence, The Sir Robert Askin Operatic Travelling Scholarship, Tait Memorial Trust Grant, Australian Music Foundation Awards, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant, Australia Council for the Arts; Skills and Arts Development Grant and the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship. In 2008, Russell was the winner of the prestigious Dame Joan Sutherland Award, as well as the People’s Choice Award at the same event and in 2012 he was a finalist in The Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall.
Russell holds a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and an MA, Dip. RAM in Opera from The Royal Academy of Music. He studied part-time at the National Opera Studio and is an Associate of the Jette Parker Young Artist’s Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He has performed in master classes for Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Andreas Scholl and Rosalind Plowright and he is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme.
Russell currently lives in London and studies with Yvonne Kenny.
Andronico in Bajazet, Pinchgut Opera
Australian countertenor Russell Harcourt is the vacillating Prince Andronico … He has an exciting male soprano voice … excellent in recitative, growing in vocal stature as the evening progresses…” Clive Paget, Limelight, Australia’s Classical Music & Arts Magazine, July 5, 2015
“Russell Harcourt’s Andronico is a vibrant and sometimes garish foil to the solemn fervour of Asteria.” Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald, July 5, 2015
“Russell Harcourt rang with impressive vocal consistency as Andronico … Characterised by a beautifully aspirated smooth falsetto that comfortably reached dizzying highs, Harcourt gave a memorable performance.” Paul Selar, BachTrack, July 6, 2015
Narciso in Agrippina, English Touring Opera “Russell Harcourt’s fawning Narciso, a dessicated cleric who sings like a nightingale” Michael Church, The Independent
“Russell Harcourt was nimble-voiced and wickedly self-serving as Narciso” Peter Reed, Classical Source
Athamas in Semele, Royal Academy of Music “Russell Harcourt was exceptional. Fine attack, varied tone, stunning decoration, accomplished breath control, and with a clipped acting style that fitted the role like a glove.” Peter Reed, Opera Magazine “Harcourt however, not only possesses a beautiful voice and a fine technique, but proved himself to be one of the strongest actors in the show.” Calvin Wells, Opera Brittania
Nutrice in Poppea, English Touring Opera
“Russell Harcourt was very soignee looking [and] brought great vocal character to the role”. Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 2013
Corrado in Griselda, Pinchgut Opera
“…Russell Harcourt’s role as Corrado, isn’t designed to win hearts but his performance certainly doesn’t lose any. Snappy exchanges…are vociferous and precise.” Neville Olliffe, Early Music Association of NSW, 2011
Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, WAAPA
“Russell Harcourt made an impressive King of the Fairies. His Oberon was consistently majestic; he moved around the stage as if it were his natural domain and his voice was informed by a slightly sinister quality that sounded entirely right.” Neville Cohn, The West Australian
This is a last minute concert, as Brad Cooper is in town with his highly acclaimed Kabarett show (which is on tour from Australia). Ross Alley has agreed to accompany Brad to support our Friends and supporters at the beautiful Leighton House. This museum has been recently refurbished.
The house was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian Artist, Lord Leighton, It is one of the most remarkable buildings of the 19th Century, containing a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries.
Not to be missed .
Isla Baring OAM
Tait Memorial Trust
Night is not only there for sleeping…
Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, London W14
7:00 for 7.30pm. Wednesday, 23 September 2015
BRAD COOPER tenor
ROSS ALLEY piano
Prepare to be transported in the luxurious surrounds of London’s Leighton House as Brad and Ross take you on a comic romp through the best-loved and most popular Cabaret song repertoire. From the wartime hits of Coward and Novello via Austria, America and Australia through to the irreverence of today, KABARETT! is a celebration of wild eclectic decadence and dangerously dark humour.
Ivor Novello Shine Through My Dreams
Tom Lehrer Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
Noël Coward London Pride
Hans May Heut ist der schönste Tag in meinem Leben…
Erich Korngold Glück, das mir verblieb
Robert Stolz Ob blond, ob braun, ich liebe alle Frau’n
Noël Coward Someday I’ll Find You
Ivor Novello Rose of England
Theo Mackeben Die Nacht ist nicht allein zum Schlafen da
Tom Lehrer The Masochism Tango
Norbert Glanzberg Padam Padam
Hans Eisler Ballade von der Krüppelgarde
Erich Korngold Mond, so gehst du wieder auf
Dillie Keane ‘Lieder’
Marilyn Miller & Cheryl Hardwick Making Love Alone
Percy Grainger Colonial Song
Charles Dumont Non, Je ne regrette rien!
Dillie Keane Stick Your Head Between Your Legs
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Brad Cooper trained at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the National Opera Studio, London, and with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West, California. Now resident in Australia, Brad debuted as Albert in Albert Herring for Opera Australia in 2013. This season Brad performs Tamino in Magic Flute for Opera Australia and Orfeo in Haydn’s Orfeo ed Euridice under Richard Bonynge. With pianist David Barnard he presents Don’t Mention the War for Melbourne Recital Centre, Broken Hill Regional Gallery.
Memorable appearances include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Oper Köln), Don Alonse in L’Amant Jaloux (Opéra Comique, Paris), Conte Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Opera Holland Park, London), Clem in Hamel’s Snow White (Nederlandse Reisopera) and Davey in Dove’s Siren Song (Grachtenfestival, Amsterdam).
Brad is thankful for the support of Tait Memorial Trust, Nance Atkinson Trust, Johnson Bequest, Australian Opera Auditions Committee’s Dame Joan Sutherland Award and Australian Singing Competition.
Ross Alley is a native of New Zealand, he worked as a pianist and music teacher at the National School of Ballet and the Australian Ballet Company and School before moving to England. In London he was employed by the Royal Ballet School as a pianist, with responsibilities as a music tutor to develop the teachers’ training course and create the pianists training program for aspiring ballet accompanists.
Mr. Alley is closely associated with the Cecchetti Society, researching, editing and arranging music for the syllabi. He lectures on classical music at the Royal Opera House, organized by the Royal Opera House Education Department with the University of London and Friends of Covent Garden.
Monday 2nd November, 2015 Tickets: £50 Venue: Victoria (full address provided on booking)
Australian tenor Stuart Skelton, the 2014 Male Singer of the Year for the International Opera Awards, will give a public Masterclass with recent Opera Awards Foundation Bursary recipients.
This will not only be a fascinating insight into the art of singing, it’s also a great opportunity to support aspiring operatic talent, as all proceeds go directly to the Opera Awards Foundation. The event will be preceded by a drinks reception and there will be a chance afterwards to mingle with the artists.
Online booking will be available soon but you can secure your place now by calling us on 0207 104 2008 to book.
Below is a report we received from Nicholas Lester, Baritone. Awarded a Tait Trust scholarship in 2009 he has gone on to build a remarkable career here in the UK and now broadening his work to the continent and his native Australia.
“Mark well the dark eyes watching in the crowd! Love waits for you!”
Escamillo the Toreador sings in Rory Bremner’s translation of Carmen!
We’ve just completed our London rehearsals and are moving to Wales to start our tech week before opening a 23 venue, 27 show tour of Wales and some of England too.
Escamillo is my 5th of 6 roles for the year, of which 5 are brand new and I start rehearsing the last new role just before the year is out where I will make my debut with Danish National Opera. Two have been in English, the remainder all Italian. It’s fantastic to have such a busy schedule, but it requires quite a lot of forethought and planning. This means: carefully planned learning and memorising time, language coaching, singing lessons, repertoire coaching and study, all this delicately coordinated around the family schedule (We are a family of four with a boy about to start school and a girl soon to turn one). This usually involves cups of tea accompanied by chocolate (Haighs is currently on supply after a trip home to South Australia) and the scribbling-in of diaries and/or the updating of computerised calendar entries too. What would we have done without technology?
Nicholas Lester singing Schaunard, La boheme
Growing up in a country town of about 1500 people I enjoyed getting stuck into whatever activity was available. I played pretty much any of the sports available in the community, took part in the Scout group and stuck with it through to obtain my Queen’s Scout Award, and got interested, at about the age of 10, in performing. One of my first performing memories was as Friedrich in The Sound of Music – probably quite odd to have a very tall 10 year old singing higher than a lot of the women in the chorus. From this, the high school music teacher offered to give me some singing lessons. During my school years my performing was just for fun – I had never really planned to take it any further than that. It wasn’t until I met my wife (I auditioned for her…well she was on the panel when I auditioned for a company she was a part of!) that I got properly fired-up and interested in performing. I started not only to be interested in G&S, musical theatre and acting in plays but more and more in classical songs and opera more specifically.
I attended the University of Adelaide, starting with a broader Arts Degree and commencing s Diploma of Languages alongside it with Bahasa Indonesian as my language. After a while on the vocal degree I decided instead to defer the degrees and instead to work to pay my bills, audition and get as much practical singing experience as I could. I started to bother/court/coerce a Welsh baritone who had emigrated to Australia to teach me, eventually he relented!
I moved to London with my wife and for the first few years she did the auditioning thing, while I worked for The Salvation Army. I worked with a great teacher Raymond Connell and started to get some coaching. I also worked for a period with Russell Smythe, which really fired my understanding of what roles I wanted to learn and perform. By 2005 I had started to audition and worked with companies like British Youth Opera, got into the Glyndebourne chorus, started covering roles and doing small ones. Basically instead of learning my rep in a college or institution I have done an extended apprenticeship. It has been great for me, even though at times it may have felt a little bit of a slow progression career-wise.
“Tall and distinguished looking, Nicholas Lester made a finely attractive Bohus (he impressed earlier this year as Rossini’s Figaro at Opera Holland Park). His opening solo was the character’s big moment, and Lester showed a feeling both for Dvorak’s dramatic line and for the feeling of nostalgic melancholy in Bohus’s love of his homeland.” Dvorak’s The Jacobin in Buxton, Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill
After three attempts I was offered a place at the National Opera Studio, which I attended 2008-9. I was also very lucky to have fantastic financial support during my NOS time from generous people such as Serena Fenwick, Christopher Ball, plus a scholarship from Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and after the course by organisations including the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust, Tait Memorial Trust, and Independent Opera who awarded me the NOS Opera Postgraduate Voice Fellowship. This practical financial support meant that I could concentrate on the singing and training, not about how I was going to pay my bills!
The National Opera Studio gave me an intense environment where I could try out several roles, learn music quickly, and could develop and test my stamina. As a result of the time I’ve been able to take, or that my career development has taken, I have been able to adapt the repertoire that best suits me. Waiting and adjusting as my voice makes it clearer what repertoire I can or should be singing. I have felt more and more confident singing larger and more demanding roles many of which I’ve been lucky to sing. I have really solidified my technique and trust that my voice will do what it’s told the majority of the time!
I also had several companies take a risk on me and by doing so provide a great training ground for me. I’ve been given the chance to perform smaller roles whilst covering larger ones. English Touring Opera, Opera Holland Park and Scottish Opera have all been instrumental in this. The last few years in particular have enabled me to sing some of the best operatic roles for my voice such as Onegin, The Count, Figaro (Barbiere), Marcello and Malatesta from Don Pasquale. The extra privilege of being able to sing any of these roles for a second or even third time is fantastic!
I was really chuffed to be invited back to Adelaide to make my principal role debut with the State Opera of South Australia, and the following year to return and create the role of Edward Lear in a newly composed opera based on his life ‘Ode to nonsense’ – created by an entirely South Australian team I believe. I really look forward to returning to Australia in the future, if nothing else it’s a great way to be able to spend time with family who still live there.
The singing community in Adelaide is relatively small, but it is interesting that in London the community can also feel small. Despite the apparent size of the community there is plenty of competition for an ever-shrinking amount of work both here in Europe and in Australia.
After 11 Years in the UK I am starting to feel a part of the industry here. I remember that at some of the first auditions I ever attended in the UK being a little thrown by how lots of the singers seemed to know each other, greeting the panel and colleagues like good friends, names being mentioned “…when I was working with…..” OR “oh…..she/he is lovely/a great colleague” OR “you must know…”. Now I have to be careful to avoid repeating particular circle/practice myself-I’m certainly not perfect.
I’m led to believe that I still just sneak into the category of a younger baritone. It’s hard to believe this as I do more and more jobs where I am no longer one of the youngest artists!
I’m looking forward to what the future holds, but also trying to make the most of what I am doing now. It would very easy for me to think forward and imagine how future work is going to be great fun, without enjoying the present.
There is a very exciting bit of work news that I am very keen to share with my friends, but am still obliged to keep under wraps. Stay tuned for more info.
The Tait Memorial Trust are thrilled to announce the launch of a new recording by Tait Awardee, Elena Xanthoudakis, and the great Australian master of Bel Canto, Richard Bonynge. Released by Signum Records the CD will be officially launched in March 2014 generously supported by the Borletti Buitoni Trust. Please watch the attached video
2008 Tait Prize winner, Elena Xanthoudakis was nominated for a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2011 and is a ‘Borletti-Buitoni Trust artist’. The BBT and Signum Records have come together to present Elena in a solo recital disc of ‘Bel Canto’ arias called ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Maestro Richard Bonynge. Jewels of the Bel Canto’ is for release April 1st 2014 and also features special guest artist, Australian Mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby, as Alisa in Lucia.
The process of making this CD involved Elena coaching with Maestro Bonynge in his home in Switzerland which were also supported by the Tait Memorial Trust.
A recording of Dame Joan Sutherland, live in Australia 1965 (Vol. 2) Desiree Records is available via this link
Volume 1 sold out (let’s hope they press some more CDs). These recordings have particular significance for the Trust as Isla Baring’s father, Sir Frank Tait, produced this tour as part of the JC Williamson/ Sutherland Opera Company. It was Sir Frank’s ambition to present Dame Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Opera Company was formed in 1963. Richard Bonynge as Artistic Director engaged a team of world renowned principals and internationally successful Australian artists. One of the principals was Luciano Pavarotti, a young tenor from Modena. The chorus was all Australian. There was no government subsidy and the fate of Williamson’s future rested on the success of the venture.
Sir Frank lived to see his ambition fulfilled. The triumphant Melbourne opening heralded the return of Dame Joan to her homeland. It was a season never to be forgotten. In Richard Bonynge’s words: “Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know.”
Sir Frank died at the age of 81 after the Melbourne season finished and while the company were in Adelaide. It was the end of an era in the history of Australian theatre.
Following the enormous response to the initial Joan Sutherland Live In Australia 1965 (unfortunately no longer available), Desiree Records brings us a sequel which includes Sutherland performing the entire role of Lucia di Lammermoor, plus other rare and unknown recordings including alternate casts.
NOTE: These historical recordings derive mainly from old reel-to-reel quarter-inch tape, recorded with, sometimes, primitive methods. Studio efforts have been made to keep any unnecessary surface noise to a minimum without harming the clarity of sound reproduction.
Also available from Desiree Records are these two collections of Robert Allman and Nance Grant.
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti):
– Ancor non giunse!
– Regnava nel silenzio
– Quando, rapito in estasi
– Egli s’avanza…La vicina soglia
– Sulla tomba che rinserra
– Qui di sposa eterna fede
– Verranno a te sull’aure
– Il pallor funesto, orrendo
– Soffriva nel pianto
– Se tradirmi tu potrai
– Ebben? Di tua speranza
– Ah! Cedi, cedi, o più sciagure
– Al ben de’ tuoi qual vittima
– Dov’ è Lucia?
– Piange la madre estinta…
– Chi mi frena in tal momento?
– T’allontana, sciagurato
– Il dolce suono
– Ardon gli incensi
– S’avanza Enrico!
– Spargi d’amoro pianto.
Joan Sutherland (Lucia), John Alexander (Edgardo), Cornelis Opthof (Enrico), Clifford Grant (Raimondo), Dorothy Cole (Alisa), Sergei Baigildin (Arturo) – Richard Bonynge – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, July 10th 1965.
– Bel raggio lusinghier
– Se la vita ancor t’è cara
– Ebben, a te: ferisci.
Joan Sutherland (Semiramide), Spiro Malas (Azzur), Lauris Elms (Arsace) – August 1965 exact date unknown.
La Traviata (Verdi):
– Libiamo ne’ lieti calici
– Che è ciò?
– Un di felice.
Joan Sutherland (Violetta), Alberto Remedios (Alfredo) Andrè Montal (Gastone) – exact date unknown.
– Seigneur, daignez permettre à votre humble servante.
Joan Sutherland (Marguerite), Richard Cross (Méphistophélès) – cond. William Weibel – August 10th 1965.
La Sonnambula (Bellini):
– Care compagne….Come per me sereno
– Sovra il sen la man mi posa
– Prendi: l’anel ti dono.
Joan Sutherland (Amina), Luciano Pavarotti (Elvino) – Richard Bonynge – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney – October 9th 1965. Encore: Home Sweet Home. Richard Bonynge (Pianoforte), Closing Night – Melbourne.
Bonus Tracks: The Alternate Sopranos
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti):
– Sulla tomba che rinserra
– Qui di sposa eterna fede
– Verranno a te sull’aure.
Elizabeth Harwood (Lucia), Luciano Pavarotti (Edgardo). Faust (Gounod):
– Alerte, ou vous ètes perdus!
Doris Yarick (Marguerite), Alberto Remedios (Faust), Joseph Rouleau (Méphistophélès)
Andrew Sinclair was born in Melbourne and has directed productions for all the major Australian opera companies. Following engagements with Welsh National Opera, English National Opera (then Sadler’s Wells) and a London season of the Bolshoi Ballet, he was appointed Deputy Stage Manager for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and is currently a Resident Director with the company. Today he began rehearsing a production of Pagliacci in San Diego, USA. More about the production here San Diego Opera | Pagliacci.
A recent review for Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci with West Australian Opera
“Director Andrew Sinclair has done wonders in deploying his forces, not least in relation to a crowd of excited children and adults who swarm around for a performance none will ever forget..”
Neville Cohn – The West Australian, 9 August 2010