Saturday 9th November 2019 - 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
The Opera Gala consists of a variety of well-loved opera arias, duets and ensembles, followed by some musical theatre classics, in a well-established operative prelude to Christmas, and is ideal for anyone who has not been to an opera before, but would like to dip their toe in the water, before committing to a full-blown one. Each item is set into context by the director, so no prior knowledge necessary.
For this year’s Opera Gala, Clonter is delighted to welcome back Alexandra Lowe (Soprano), who took part in the 2017 Masterclasses and Spring Opera Showcase, returning this February as the Guildhall School of Music And Drama, as their nominee for the Opera Prize Concert, and winning first prize, and performing the role of Donna Elvira in Clonter summer production of Don Giovanni. Also returning to Clonter is Andrew Henley (Tenor), who will be performing the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Alexandra Oomens (Soprano), who will be performing the role of Zerlina, and Stephanie Maitland (Mezzo-soprano), who took part in the 2018 Masterclasses and Spring Opera Showcase. Clonter is delighted to welcome Benson Wilson (Baritone) and Oliver Platt (Director) for the first time.
For those based in the south, Clonter’s Gala will be transferring to the elegant 18th Century ballroom, originally designed by Robert Adam, at the Lansdowne Club on Tuesday 12th November – Now bookable online.
Hailing from Monmouth, Andrew studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is a recent graduate of the National Opera Studio. He studies with Gary Coward, supported by the WNO Sir John Moores Award. He was with winner of the 2019 Dunraven Young Welsh Singer of the Year. Roles at RWCMD included Fenton Falstaff, Albert Albert Herring and Schoolmaster The Cunning Little Vixen. Operatic engagements have included Tybalt Romeo and Juliet with Opéra de Lyon, Novice Billy Budd with the St. Endellion Festival, Lechmere Owen Wingrave with British Youth Opera, Major (cover) Patience with English Touring Opera, Kekikako Bataclan with West Green House, Christoph Kommilitonen! with Welsh National Youth Opera and excerpts of Rodolfo La Boheme with ROH Reimagined, in association with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. 2019 engagements include Father Grenville Dead Man Walking with Welsh National Opera, Don Ottavio Don Giovanni with Clonter Opera and Heinrich von Schreiber Tannhäuser with the Stadttheater Klagenfurt. Concert engagements have included Mendelssohn Elijah at Cadogan Hall with the City of London Sinfonia, an opera highlights concert with the WNO Orchestra conducted by Carlo Rizzi at BBC Hoddinot Hall, Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge with Nicola Rose as a supporting event for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Beethoven An die ferne Geliebte with Michael Pollock, Verdi Requiem at St. Paul’s Covent Garden, Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and Purcell The Fairy Queen, conducted by Nicholas McGegan, both with the CBSO at Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Alexandra is a Spanish/English soprano who recently completed her training at the Guildhall Opera School. She previously graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree and a Masters of Music from the RNCM. Most recent competitions and awards include The Clonter Opera Prize, the Elisabeth Harwood Prize and the Kennedy Award for Singing Strauss. She is a recipient of a Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Sarah Brightman Scholarship. In 2018 she became a Samling Artist. Operatic roles performed at the GSMD and/or the RNCM include Fiordiligi, Helena, Lucia I/II, Anna Gomez, Rose Maurrant,Theodora and Métella. Professionally she has played Fiordiligi (Neville Holt Opera) and Barena (Grange Park Opera). Roles at BYO include The Bride/Wife/Mother and Mrs. Coyle. In August Alexandra will be playing Barbarina and covering Contessa at The New Generation Festival in Florence, before joining the National Opera Studio in September 2019.
Stephanie Maitland is a Scottish mezzo-soprano studying on the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music, under the tuition of Jane Irwin. Over the summer, she was an Alvarez Young Artist with Garsington Opera, covering the role of Mrs Grose in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, conducted by Richard Farnes and directed by Louisa Muller, and singing in the chorus of The Bartered Bride by Smetana, conducted by Jac van Steen and directed by Paul Curran. Since starting at the RNCM, Stephanie has sang the roles of Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen in 40minutes, the Sandman in RNCM’s production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata for the John Manduell Commemoration Concert, La Principessa in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicchi in RNCM’s Puccini double bill and Madam By-ends and Alto soloist in RNCM’s spring production of Vaughan William’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. She has also sang in a masterclass with Dame Ann Murray and was involved in Clonter Opera’s Spring Opera Showcase. She was also involved in the first recording of Cellier’s Dorothy with Richard Bonynge, released by NAXOS. During the previous summer, she sang with Buxton International Festival, singing chorus and covering the role of Zuma in Verdi’s Alzira and singing chorus in Mozart’s Idomeneo. Future engagements include singing the role of La Prieure in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at RNCM. Stephanie was also a semi-finalist in By Voice Alone and won a Singer’s Preparation Award from Audition Oracle. Stephanie is generously supported by The Cross Trust and by Help Musicians UK. She is a recipient of the Alice Orrell and A&N Kendall Award and previously held a Sybil Tutton Award from Help Musicians UK.
Australian soprano Alexandra Oomens is in her second year at Royal Academy Opera, studying with Lillian Watson and Jonathan Papp. In 2017 Alexandra made her European debut as a soloist at the Concertgebouw in the Holland Festival, with Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. Alexandra in an alumna of the Georg Solti Academy, studying under Meastro Alessandro Corbelli, Barbara Frittoli, and
Sir Richard Bonynge. Whilst with Royal Academy Opera, Alexandra has performed such roles as Vixen –
The Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek), Semele – Semele (Handel), La Princess & La Chauve-Souris – L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel), Laurette – Le Docteur Miracle (Bizet), Tina – Flight (Dove), Cupidon – Orphée Aux Enfers (Offenbach), and Damigella – L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi). Other roles include Clizia – Teseo (London Handel Festival), Isabelle – L’Amant, Jaloux, Lisel – The Chimney Sweep, Alinda – Giasone (Pinchgut Opera), Childerico – Faramondo, and Belinda and 2nd Lady – Dido & Aeneas (Brisbane Baroque). Alexandra holds an MA and Dip RAM for an outstanding final recital from the Academy, and a BMus (Hons) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Alexandra is extremely grateful for the generosity and sponsorship of the Carr-Gregory Trust Scholarship, and John Baker Opera Award.
Benson Wilson is a New Zealand born opera singer, of Sāmoan heritage, who is based in London. Benson Wilson studied at the University of Auckland and graduated with a BMus and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama opera course where he attained a Masters of Performance (distinction) and a Concert Recital Diploma. This year, Benson won the prestigious 64th Kathleen Ferrier Award at the Wigmore Hall. In 2018, Benson Wilson won the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation Award and the people’s choice award. Benson Wilson also won New Zealand’s premiere singing competition, the Lexus Song Quest. Bensom was awarded the prize for Most Outstanding Overseas Performer at this year Royal Overseas League competitions. Earlier this year, Benson performed with the English National Opera in their production of “Paul Bunyan” in the role of John Shears. He has performed many roles, such as Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte, Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2018, Count in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and in January 2016 Benson made his professional debut as Schaunard in Puccini’s “La bohème” with Festival Opera in Napier, New Zealand. Benson Wilson has also performed as a soloist in an array of concert repertoire, including Handel’s Messiah, Mozart Requiem, Faure Requiem, Brahms Requiem and many more. Benson Wilson has participated in many prestigious young artist summer programmes such as the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto, the Samling Young Artist Programme, the International Vocal Arts Institute, New Zealand Opera School which has lead him to work with world renowned coaches and artists. Benson looks forward to taking up his place in the Salzburg Young Singers platform where he will spend his summer as a young artist at the Salzburger Festspiele. Before going to Salzburg, Benson will cover John Sorel in Menotti’s “The Consul” with the Welsh National Opera Company. From September 2019 – June 2020, Benson Wilson will be a young artist at the National Opera Studio.
Photo: Penny Aspin
Musical Director/Coach – Clive Timms
Clive Timms studied at Birmingham University and the London Opera Centre. He joined the music staff of ENO after a season with WNO and was subsequently appointed Assistant Music Director of Opera North on the company’s inception in 1978. For these companies he conducted a large number of performances of a varied operatic repertoire. He retired from the Guidhall School of Music & Drama in 2012 after 22 years as Head of Opera Studies, where in 2007 he was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for his work in the Opera Department. He was responsible for many notable productions, often of unusual and stimulating repertoire, the majority of which he conducted, latterly Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and the European première of Ned Rorem’s Our Town – and he continues to coach aspiring singers at the Guildhall School. His association with Clonter dates back to 1989 but more recently he has conducted the productions of La cenerentola, Lucia di Lammermoor, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Faust, Così fan tutte, La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, and La bohème.
Accompanist – Robin Humphreys
Robin Humphreys is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and a holder of the prestigious Diploma in Professional Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano accompaniment with David Lloyd. Appearing in concert both as a soloist and an accompanist for over 35 years, he now pursues a successful career as an accompanist and répétiteur, the breadth of his repertoire being reflected in television and radio broadcasts ranging from BBC Radio 3 to Emmerdale! At the RNCM, Robin is a senior music coach within the School of Vocal Studies, for whom he was also chief répétiteur on the majority of college opera productions from the late 1990s until 2013. He has appeared with the Manchester Camerata in the world première of “A Feast of Fables” by Paul Reade, has been Musical Director for Feelgood Theatre Productions and, from 1990-2000, Opera & Concert Productions (Worldwide) Ltd with whom he toured throughout the Gulf, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Robin has a particularly close association with Clonter Opera Theatre in Cheshire, where he regularly works as Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist. He is also an accompanist member of the British & International Federation of Festivals.
Director – TBC
Tickets £31, £42, £52, Students £10
Doors Open 6pm
Interval 70 minute supper interval; pre-order supper, hamper or canapé baskets, or bring your own (indoor) picnic
Sponsored by WHIreland