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The Spring Opera Showcase, is a rich variety of semi staged opera scenes and arias – The end product of the Opera Studio – set into context by a compère, to entertain both opera novices and seasoned opera lovers, in equal measure. Suitable for all ages – A great way to introduce younger members of the family to opera and some of the nation’s finest emerging opera singers.

Clonter is delighted to welcome back both Michael McCaffery (Director), and Paul Wingfield ( Musical Director).


Michael McCaffery has directed in opera houses and theatres across the world for more than thirty years. His productions have been seen in major theatres in this country and abroad, including Glyndebourne, Bayreuth, Opera Comique, Paris, Volksoper, Vienna, Garsington, Wexford Festival, the National Theatre Tokyo, the Halle Handel Festival, in North and South America and the Middle East.  He also writes and has produced a series of acclaimed features and documentaries for RTE Radio and BBC Radio 4 where his adaptation of the Matchmaker was nominated for a Sony Comedy Award. His association with Clonter also goes back many years, which includes his production of Faust 2014.


Paul Wingfield  last came to Clonter as a repetiteur for the Spring Opera Showcase, and now takes up the post of Musical Director, from Clive Timms this year. Paul won a place as a conductor on the highly competitive Jette Parker Young Artist programme at the Royal Opera House, where he was contracted from 2012 – 2014.  He was mentored by Sir Antonio Pappano and acted as assistant conductor on Carmen, Gloriana and Die Zauberflöte. Recent work includes conductor, La Bohème (Opera Holland Park), assistant conductor, Pleasure (Opera North) and conductor, Così fan tutte (Bury Court Opera). Future plans include debut engagements at Garsington Opera.


Iwan Davies (Repetiteur & Accompanist) Born in Pembrokeshire, Iwan Teifion Davies read English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, followed by studies as répétiteur at the GSMD, from which he graduated with distinction. He was worked on productions of Wolf-Ferrari’s Le donne curiose and Martinu’s Alexandre Bis at the GSMD, as well as a variety of opera scenes and the premieres of new operas Door, Harbour and Watch Me. He has also worked on productions of Così fan tutte for Opera Loki and Bury Court Opera, Dido and Aeneas, Carmen, Figaro’s Wedding and The Magic Flute for Opera Cocktail, and Die Fledermaus and La traviata for Focus Opera. This season he is a Young Artist at the National Opera Studio, supported by the Richard Carne Charitable Trust, the Help Musicians UK Harrison Award and the Kathleen Trust. His future plans include productions of Zaza and Kata Kabanova for Opera Holland Park.


This year’s singers 


Samantha Clarke (Soprano) – Royal Northern College of Music

Samantha is an Australian/ British soprano in her second and final year of studies at the RNCM under the tutelage of Mary Plazas. Whilst at the RNCM, she has performed Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and the title role in Handel’s Theodora. Samantha is the recipient of numerous awards including the Leverhulme Royal Northern College of Music Award, the Phoebe Patrick Award, the Nelly Apt Scholarship, the Dame Eva Turner Award and the Joyce & Michael Kennedy award for the singing of Strauss. Most recently, Samantha was awarded the Audience and Runner up Prize at the Clonter Opera Prize. Having featured in Le Nozze Di Figaro with Longborough Festival last year, Samantha is delighted to have her professional debut with Longborough as Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in July, and playing Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with British Youth Opera later in the summer. In September, Samantha will be commencing her studies in the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


Mirjam Mesak (Soprano) – Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Estonian soprano Mirjam Mesak recently graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a First Class Honours Degree. She is continuing her studies on the Artist Masters Programme at the Guildhall School, under the tutelage of prof. Rudolf Piernay. At the Guildhall Mirjam was given the opportunity to work with the finest singers and coaches such as Graham Johnson, Julius Drake, Eugene Asti, Sarah Walker, Stephen Loges, Amanda Roocroft, Clive Timms, Richard Jackson to name a few. Mirjam has performed as a soloist in many of the renowned concert halls such as The Wigmore Hall, The Barbican and Milton Court Concert Hall.


Charlotte Hewett (Mezzo) Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Mezzo-Soprano Charlotte Hewett performs across the UK and Internationally. The 26 year old from Dorset is studying her Master’s degree at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama under tutelage of John Evans. Recent alumni of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester (Postgraduate Diploma in Vocal Performance – Distinction) Charlotte won the Dame Eva Turner scholarship for potential dramatic sopranos, the Joyce and Michael Kennedy award for the singing of Strauss and the Freckleton Prize and Doherty cup for singing. Operatic highlights include The High Priestess in Aida for Dorset Opera, described as ‘Beautifully sung’ in the Opera Magazine. Charlotte is a member of the London Philharmonia Chorus, with recent tours to Valencia and Hamburg. Summer contracts include singing ‘Simona’ for Opera Holland Park’s Zaza and Chorus in Káťa Kabanová, as well as covering the role of ‘Daughter’ for British Youth Opera’s The Vanishing Bridegroom by Judith Weir. Venue highlights include; The Barbican, The Royal Albert Hall, The Cadogan Hall, The Bridgewater Hall, The MEN arena, Palau de la Música – Valencia, on BBC1 and BBC Radio 3.


Matthew Nuttall (Baritone) – Royal Northern College of Music

Baritone Matthew Nuttall recently graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music, gaining a First Class Honours Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance. During his undergraduate study Matthew was highly commended in the Elsie Thurston prize (2013), and was recipient of the James Martin Oncken prize (2014) and the Alexander Young Singing Prize (2015). Supported by the the Kenneth Headley Bequest, Matthew is continuing his study as a postgraduate student, under the tutelage of Peter Alexander Wilson. In 2016 Matthew was a member of the Buxton Young Artists Programme, performing as a member of the chorus in Beethoven’s Leonore.  Recent operatic appearances at the RNCM include performing as a member of the chorus in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (2016) and the role of Lothario from Thomas’ Mignon (2016) in their annual opera scenes. Future engagements include the role of Louis in Holst’s The Wandering Scholar with Northern Opera Group. He  also looks forward to performing in Britten’s Billy Budd as extra chorus with Opera North at Aldeburgh Festival, 2017. Matthew was the winner of the Frederic Cox Award for singing 2017.


Matthew Mears (Tenor) Royal Northern College of Music.

Matt Mears is a tenor in his 1st year of his Masters Degree, Studying with Paul Nilon. Since joining the RNCM as an undergraduate in 2012, Matt has performed as a chorister and soloist in various RNCM productions. He has also been engaged across the north of England by multiple choral societies, most recently performing Mozart’s Requiem at Southwell Minster. In the summer of 2016, Matt joined the Young Artist Programme at Buxton Opera Festival. He will rejoin the festival this coming summer for their production of Verdi’s Macbeth. 


Open Opera Studio Thursday 18th May

Visitors to the preceding Open Opera Studio are able to follow a performance’s journey from rehearsal to a semi-staged production, offering a detailed insight into the workings behind a performance.

My enjoyment (of the Spring Opera Showcase) was greatly enhanced by attendance at the Masterclass (Now renamed Open Opera Studio) in the days before, where we watched the singers being trained into dramatic ensembles by some of the best teachers in the world” Clonter’s Chairman, Patrick Furlong.


Tickets £5, FREE for Students & Friends of Clonter
Open Opera Studio 2 – 5pm


Spring Opera Showcase Saturday 20th May

Tickets £20, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

+ Group Discount (10%) available 10+

Early Bird Ticket (20%) available until Friday 31st March

Doors Open 6pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Interval 70 minute supper interval

Dining Options Pre-order pre-performance supper, canapé basket, hamper, or bring your own picnic