LHF: Handel Singing Competition 2019

Handel Singing Competition 2019
London Handel Festival
Semi-Final: Grosvenor Chapel, 5 March 2019
Final: St George’s, Hanover Square, 6 April 2019

The Handel Singing Competition has been a key part of the London Handel Festival since 2002. The finalists form a key part of future festivals, with invitations to return over the years ahead. The current festival includes such 20 past finalists, including specific solo recitals for the two main prize-winners (see here and here). Many successful careers have gained from the exposure that the competition offers although, for any potential applicants,  it is worth noting that some of the most famous of those were not first prize winners. Indeed, an unsuccessful finalist in the very first 2002 competition is currently top-of-the-bill at English National Opera (Lucy Crowe), and an unsuccessful finalist from last year is one of the stars of the current Royal Opera House/LHF Berenice (Jacquelyn Stucker). Of the LHF’s own list of seven of those who have gone on to “internationally recognised soloists”, only one was a first prize winner. And, over the years, I have also spotted several excellent singers in the semi-finals that don’t even make it into the finals. For that reason, I usually try to review the semi-final, but this year I went to both. Continue reading

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