LHF: Handel Singing Competition

Handel Singing Competition: Semi-Final
London Handel Festival
Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, 28 March 2018

The annual Handel Singing Competition was founded in 2002 as an integral part of the London Handel Festival (LHF). This year it attracted 116 applicants, seemingly down in numbers from the 150 that the LHF quote as the norm. A private first round was held over several very snowy days around the end of February, although sound files could be submitted by those unable to be there. Eleven of the 116 made it through to this, the public semi-final, held on the Wednesday of Holy Week. Perhaps holding the semi-final of a singing competition during one of the busiest of the year for singers was not the brightest idea – I know of singers that did not enter because they knew they would inevitably be busy that week.

The competition is open to singers between 23 and 33 years old on 1 February 2018. The prizes are first: £5000, second: £2000, audience: £300, finalists: £300. All finalists are guaranteed lunchtime recitals during the 2019 London Handel Festival, and many past finalists are also asked to perform solos in other prestigious concerts during the Festival and abroad. The 2018 London Handel Festival, for example, includes 20 previous finalists.

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Royal Academy Opera:Poppea

Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea
Royal Academy Opera
Shoreditch Town Hall. 21 May 2016

WP_20160521_18_52_23_Pro.jpgAwaiting the construction of their new concert hall, the Royal Academy of Music have been trying out different venues in the past year. For their final opera of the season, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, they chose Shoreditch Town Hall (a space new to me) in the middle of a very lively and cosmopolitan part of London. There was some awkwardness in the staging arrangement as the audience enter past what would normally be back-stage, but they coped with this well. The staging was simple, a three-sided box with three entrances on either side, and five in the rear wall. There were very few props, with much depending on Jake Wiltshire’s excellent lighting to provide mood, most prominently at the end of Act 1 when Seneca’s death is depicting by a flood of red light.

Poppea is one of the more complex operas to stage, with many characters and a myriad of interconnections between the roles. Continue reading