Newsletter May 2014
It has been an embarrassingly long time since the last issue… but now our new website is fully functional we do hope not to have to be making similar apologies too often in the future…
Our 20th birthday production of Mozart’s lively la finta semplice was a very happy time for us. A cast of seven wonderful singers and a fine orchestra came together under Andrew Griffiths’ expert baton for five performances in four counties, including our first visit to the impressive Bury Court Opera at Bentley in Hampshire, a venue run by two of members of our Friends, John Coke and Suzanne Lemieux. Director Jeremy Gray’s Magritte-inspired set was a perfect match for the somewhat surreal story and the floating bowler hats could be seen across Bampton, gently bobbing about in the breeze. The cast included established Bampton favourites, including Caryl Hughes and Nicholas Merryweather, alongside two fine new discoveries, soprano Nathalie Chalkley in the role of the maid Ninetta and Irish baritone Gavan Ring as her amour, Simone. Do see the main website for reviews and some great pictures!
The autumn saw two major events. The first was a small-scale production of Haydn’s La canterina, with Nathalie Chalkley in the title role and conductor Toby Purser making his Bampton debut. Our period-instrument orchestra Bampton Classical Players was led by the formidable Adrian Chandler, founder/director of La Serenissima, and the whole event was a remarkable buzz of artistry and energy in the way that Bampton does so well.
The second autumn event was a very special one for us, being the inauguration of our biennial Young Singers Competition, made possible through generous donations from Hilary and Alun Reid Evans, the Lord and Lady Lurgan Trust and the Ashley Foundation. The distinguished panel of judges included Patron Andrew Parrott, the conductor Peter Robinson and the tenor Bonaventura Bottone. From a very healthy number of applicants a short-list of thirty singers progressed through to the semi-finals and six to the finals; standards were impressively high. First prize was awarded to mezzo-soprano Anna Starushkevych and second prize to soprano Rosalind Coad. In addition to cash prizes they will appear in a special London recital in October 2014 – keep your eyes on the ‘What’s On?’ page for details.
St Beornwald’s Day
The feastday of Bampton’s totally obscure patron Saint, Beornwald (21st December) was marked with a long-promised Messiah, with soloists Caroline Kennedy, Ben Williamson, David de Winter and Robert Gildon, the London-based chamber choir Cantandum and the Bampton Classical Players all under the baton of artistic director Gilly French. The candlelit church was full, the mulled wine flowed and the whole event was entirely uplifting and engaging – a fine end to the year’s music-making.
Summer opera 2014
Our main summer opera production is a double-bill of Gluck’s Il Parnaso confuso and Bertoni’s Orfeo, in celebration of Gluck’s 300th birthday.
Il Parnaso confuso had not been heard in this country at all until June 2011, when we gave the UK première at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank, with Benjamin Bayl conducting. This was a concert performance, again with the Bampton Classical Players, and so this year’s offering will be the UK staged première. Written for four sopranos, it is a delightful and gentle comedy about four bored muses up against a deadline. The music is Gluck at his most glorious: a one-act opera of ravishing beauty.
Bertoni’s Orfeo might seem at first an unusual way of celebrating Gluck, but this passionate and powerful piece not only deserves to be heard (this is, we think, its modern-times première) but has an interesting connection with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Bertoni’s version is to the same libretto as the Gluck, and is thought to have been conceived as a result of a request by Guadigi, the original Orfeo, who wanted a version that showed off his voice to better advantage. It is a truly superb piece – not to be missed.
Both pieces are being given in new English translations. Tickets are selling fast so book early. You can do this on-line through the booking page or by calling the Box Office on 01993 851142; details of catering arrangements will be sent with tickets.
Looking even further ahead, on Wednesday 8 October there will be a recital by competition prizewinners Anna Starushkevych and Rosalind Coad, at 22 Mansfield St W1, a recital series organized by Bob Boas. And on Sunday 2 November we make our concert debut at SJE Arts (St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road, Oxford). Watch the website for more details nearer the time!
We are delighted to announce that Bonaventura Bottone has honoured us by accepting an invitation to become a Patron of the company.
Bonaventura is one of Britains leading international tenors. We have known him for a long time, initially through his daughter Rebecca who sang Rosina in our Barber of Seville in 2005; some might remember the utterly charming Life and Times he gave for us in Aynho a few years ago. More recently he was a judge in our Young Singers’ Competition. We very much look forward to welcoming him to a number of future events.
And so, finally, to the usual plea. Fundraising from charitable trusts is always challenging and so we look to enlightened individuals to help further the Company’s aims.
We have a growing group of Friends of Bampton Classical Opera - through membership you can not only support our work but also meet like-minded people at convivial events, including post-performance events and our annual Friends reception. There are several tiers of membership, each with associated benefits, and we are particularly grateful to our Corinthian Friends, but every single membership makes a difference. Please do consider joining us!
If you would like to support without becoming a friend, you can do this in a number of ways:
• Make a donation – see the ‘support us’ page of our website
• Company support – become a Corporate Friend
• Advertise your business in our programme
• Help in kind – accommodate a singer, help with cast catering or with event organisation
• Spread the word!