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SINGERS' PERSPECTIVES

'Since its inception in 2017, Hurn Court Opera has given a growing number of young singers the chance to perform in opera, recitals and in masterclasses. You’ll find a full list of previous performances and casts here.

Young artists’ involvement with us comes at a specific point, when they are emerging into the business. Once launched, they move on, many to success as recitalists, in competition and in opera with major companies both here and abroad. While what we offer is just a small part of a much bigger tapestry of training and experience, it gives emerging artists a few more performance opportunities - so vital in the formative years - in what has become a contracting landscape.

Here, we’ve gathered impressions from a selection of singers about their experience with us, plus insights into their careers since. We think their stories speak for themselves.

For Hurn Court Opera:

Rodolfo/La Bohème, April  2023

John Seldon Masterclass with Kate Royal, June 2022

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Subsequent work includes:

Gherardo/Gianni Schicchi for the European Opera Centre with Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Bryn Terfel​

Chorus, Glyndebourne Festival 

'Hurn Court Opera is a company whose work in supporting young singers at the fledgling stages of their careers has afforded me huge benefit in the last year. As a young artist in this country it is not always easy to find a company willing to take a risk in casting someone with lesser amounts of experience in a main role, but these are the exactly the experiences young singers need in order to become the professional artists on the main stages of this country and abroad. This is what Hurn Court has given to me and my colleagues, and this will remain hugely valuable in the coming years as we all make our way in this difficult but rewarding career.

'I am very grateful for the huge amount of effort that goes into making these opportunities a reality and such a large amount of credit is deserved by the whole team at Hurn Court. Being involved has been invaluable to me and this vital work is increasingly needed across our communities if opera is to survive.'

More information:

www.robertforresttenor.com

For Hurn Court Opera:

Chorus & Musetta (cover)/La Bohème, April  2023

Subsequent work includes:

Titania/The Fairy Queen, Longborough Festival Opera  2023

Under the Little Red Moon, The Rake's Progress, Manon Lescaut and The Great Stink (children's opera), English Touring Opera, Oct 2023 - June 2024

More information:

www.rachelspeirssoprano.com

'Musetta is one of my favourite roles in the repertoire,' explains Rachel, 'one I have often been told by teachers and coaches I would be well suited to, and one I hope to perform in the future. So having the chance to learn it and work on it with Hurn Court Opera was a no-brainer for me.

'There were so many memorable moments on La Bohème,' she says 'but a real highlight of mine was the opportunity for the cover cast to sing through the whole opera with the fantastic orchestra. This is often a missed opportunity in other companies due to time constraints, but I found it such an important experience. The atmosphere in the rehearsal room and the collaborative, positive, friendly work ethic of all involved were also great aspects of this production.

'Covering a role can be harder than singing it due to the lack of rehearsal time,' she adds. 'But you still have to be ready to jump in at any moment to play the principal part.' Explaining the value of covering, Rachel says 'It's important for other companies to see roles like Musetta - that is, the standard repertoire - on your CV so that they can gauge your voice-type and other roles for which they could employ you. This can be really helpful in getting you into an audition room, something which is increasingly difficult with such a huge number of singers, especially sopranos, vying for fewer jobs in the UK.'

For Hurn Court Opera:

Parpignol/La Bohème, April  2023

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Subsequent work includes:

Demetrius/The Fairy Queen, Longborough Festival Opera  2023

Stage Manager/Verismo, Opera on Location

Semele & Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Opera Collective Ireland, 2023

'I won't forget the immediate sense of enthusiasm that all the cast and crew had for this production of La Bohème when I arrived for the first rehearsal,' recalls Luke. 'It was clear to me that we would be provided a great space for creativity and enjoyment which made for a perfect collaborative environment.

'I wasn't afraid to fail and in doing so felt capable of shaping my character into something that was uniquely ours. This experience has given me the courage to "fail" by pushing the characterisation limits of my future roles. In turn, this will help me to actualise living and breathing characters on stage that have the potential for maximum emotional impact on my audiences.' 

From September 2023 until 2025, Luke is an artist with the International Opera Academy, Belgium​

For Hurn Court Opera:

Belinda/Dido and Aeneas, September  2021

Calm before the Storm recital, October 2021

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Subsequent work includes:

Rita and Bianca/Gabriella/La Rondine, IfOpera

Covering Ismene/Mitridate, Despina/Cosi fan Tutte and Adele/Le Comte Ory, Garsington Opera

Covering Semele/Semele, Opera de Lille

Semele/Semele, Garsington Opera Create

Fiordiligi/Cosi fan Tutte, Celebrate Voice Festival, 2023

Chorus, English National Opera

'Playing Belinda in Hurn Court’s production of Dido and Aeneas greatly benefited me as it was my first professional role after leaving the Royal College of Music's Opera Studio. Whilst I’d covered roles and been in the chorus for professional productions before, Hurn Court gave me my first real opportunity as a lead. It was a wonderful experience from which I learnt a lot and developed my stagecraft skills, and having the role on my CV helped my career to flourish.'

Natasha is a Samling Artist, an Oxford Lieder Emerging Artist, a Making Music Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artist, and a Leeds Lieder Young Artist. She was awarded First Place at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2023.

More information:

natashapagesoprano.co.uk

For Hurn Court Opera:

Winner of the Nigel Beale First Prize in the 2021 HCO Singer of the Year Competition

Christmas ConcertDecember 2021

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'Winning the Nigel Beale First Prize at the HCO Competition in 2021 meant a great deal to my career. Financially this prize money contributed to my living costs while performing as a Young Artist at the National Opera Studio, and it provides credibility as I continue to make a name for myself in the UK. As I'm from Australia, I’ve had to build my UK career from scratch and competitions like Hurn Court Opera's confirm to the industry that we are singers to take notice of.'

Shakira was a 2021/2022 Young Artist with the National Opera Studio, is a Samling Artist and an Emerging Artist with Oxford International Song (formerly Oxford Lieder).

Subsequent work includes:

Suzy and Lolette/La Rondine, IfOpera

Mezzo soprano soloist, Scottish Opera’s Opera Highlights tour

Hänsel/Hänsel und Gretel, Opera Holland Park Young Artist production 2023

2nd Witch/Dido and Aeneas, Waterperry Opera Festival, 2023

More information:

shakiratsindos.com

For Hurn Court Opera:

Winner of the Second Prize in the 2018 HCO Singer of the Year Competition

Chorus/Acis and Galatea, April 2018 

English Song recital, May 2018

Shropshire Lad and Wiltshire Lass recital, November 2019

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Subsequent work includes:

Officer/Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Glyndebourne Festival, 2023

 Black/Black, El Payaso, Grimeborn Festival 2022

'Working on Acis and Galatea with Hurn Court Opera was one of the formative experiences of my training as an opera singer. The team sharpened my musicality, attention to detail and work ethic. As well as this, there was also a fantastic collegial spirit amongst the cast and staff. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.'

Michael went on to study in Berlin with Thomas Quasthoff before joining the Opera School at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was awarded first prize in the 2021 Association of English Singers and Speakers Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition and the 2021 Guildhall English Song Prize, and was a finalist in the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. He won the Prix Andre-Bacand Prize for ‘Best Canadian work’ at the CMIM Competition 2022 in Montreal. He was an Emerging Artist with Oxford International Song (formerly Oxford Lieder) in 2022.

For Hurn Court Opera:

Winner of the Nigel Beale First Prize in the 2018 HCO Singer of the Year Competition

First Lady/Magic Flute, April 2019

Shropshire Lad and Wiltshire Lass recital, November 2019

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Subsequent work includes:

Mařenka/The Bartered Bride, Garsington Opera, OperaFirst 

Flaminia/Il mondo della luna, Bampton Classical Opera

Contessa/Le nozze di Figaro, Opera Holland Park Young Artist Production

Siân will cover First Lady/Magic Flute, English National Opera, Spring 2024

'The HCO Singer of the Year was one of the first competitions I had success in, and so it provided me with a great springboard and confidence boost to take the next steps in my career, particularly with the invaluable support and encouragement from the Hurn Court Opera team and supporters.'

Siân won the Singers Prize in the 2020 Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition as well as the Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform. Siân is a City Music Foundation Artist, a 2021/22 Britten Pears Young Artist and was listed in BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Rising Stars’ feature in February 2023. She was delighted to be awarded the Simon Sandbach Award by Garsington Opera for her contribution to their 2023 season. Siân recently worked with the Royal Opera House on Lost and Found; a project of newly commissioned operas premiered in St Pancras Station in 2022 and subsequently joined ROH for a performance of new operas at the 2023 Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire.

More information:

www.siandicker.com

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