Clonter is 50 this year! Whilst we have a full programme lined up, there are still a few events that need some funding, and there is also the ongoing need for funding generally to continue to provide a nurturing and supportive place for emerging talent to flourish and entertain our audiences for generations to come.
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Opera Prize
Sat 3 Feb, 7pm

“Superb variety…”

“The standard was excellent… as always. A very enjoyable evening.”

“Exciting opportunity to hear some fine voices and possible national or international stars of the future.”

Audience Feedback from Previous Years
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There is less than one month to go until the first event of Clonter’s 50th Anniversary year.

Contestants nominated by the UK’s leading conservatoires, compete for a prize before a distinguished panel of judges. The audience collectively act as one judge. The audience’s vote is also revealed.

This event is perfect for anyone who is either interested in spotting emerging talent, and enjoys following singers’ careers, or for an opera novice, who would like to dip their toe in the operatic water, getting a taster from a wide range of operas, before committing to a whole one.

Each item is introduced and set into context by a compère and accompanied by Robin Humphreys, described as a ‘world class repetiteur’ by Louise Flind in Opera Today.

This event includes the traditional 70-minute supper interval. Come and cast your vote!

Sponsored by Ann Driver Trust
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Past Winners

Past Winners Include

Giselle Allen (RAM) 1995, Alfie Boe (RCM) 1998 (pictured here), Camilla Tilling (RCM) 1999, Kate Royal (GSMD) 2003, Kathryn Rudge (RNCM) 2009, Natalya Romaniw (GSMD) 2010, Anush Hovhannisyan (RCS) 2012, Kang Wang (RNCM) 2014, Alexey Gusev (RCS) 2017, Emma Webster-Mockett (RCS) 2018, Alexandra Lowe (GSMD) 2019, Lauren Young (RCS) 2020, Ossian Huskinson (RAM) 2021, Liam Bonthrone (RAM) 2022, and Vitor Bispo (RAM) 2023 (pictured above)
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Panel Members

David Gowland – Artistic Director, Jette Parker Young Artists Programme

David Gowland is Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. He has been associated with the Royal Opera House’s Young Artists Programme since its inception in 2000, initially as Director of Musical Preparation and from 2006 as Artistic Director. He regularly accompanies the Jette Parker Young Artists in recital. Gowland studied at the Royal College of Music, where he won several prizes for piano accompaniment, and at the National Opera Studio. He joined the Glyndebourne music staff in 1987, winning the 1988 Jani Strasser Award, and worked there for 20 years. He was Head of Music Staff at the Grand Théâtre de Genève 1989–96, assisting such conductors as Bruno Bartoletti, Bruno Campanella, Mark Elder, Philippe Jordan, Emmanuel Plasson, Jeffrey Tate, Christian Thielemann and Edo de Waart. He has worked as assistant conductor/senior coach with companies including Paris Opéra, Dutch National Opera, Royal Danish Opera, Rome Opera, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, Teatro Real, Madrid, and the festivals of Aix-en-Provence, Chorégies de Orange, Salzburg and Wexford. He was senior coach on Der Ring des Nibelungen under Tate in Australia. Concert work has included the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh festivals and the BBC Proms. Gowland is a visiting tutor with National Opera Studio, British Youth Opera, Scottish Opera Emerging Artists, New National Theatre Tokyo and all the major British conservatories. He is a regular jury member for national and international competitions and has given masterclasses in Holland, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
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Helen Hogh – Director of Vocal Artists, Groves Artists

Since graduating from Southampton University with a BA Hons in Music and English, Helen has worked in various areas of Arts Administration including positions as PA to the General Director of English National Opera, Artist Manager at Harrison Parrott and Concerts Manager of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She joined Ingpen and Williams as an Artist Manager in 1997 and became a Director of Groves Artists in September 2016.
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Aidan Oliver – Chorus Director at Glyndebourne

Aidan Oliver has been Chorus Director at Glyndebourne since 2019, responsible for nurturing the internationally-renowned Glyndebourne Chorus, admired as one of the principal training grounds for the next generation of operatic talent in the UK. Between 2018 and 2023 he directed the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the resident symphonic chorus of the Edinburgh International Festival; he is also the founding director of Philharmonia Voices, a professional choir that has collaborated with the Philharmonia Orchestra on many of its most ambitious choral-orchestral projects over many years. Aidan’s previous roles have included Director of Music at St Margaret’s Westminster, the Parliamentary Church, and Associate Conductor of the St Endellion Festival in Cornwall. A highly experienced opera specialist, Aidan Oliver has worked on the music staff of the Royal Opera House and English National Opera, and for Glyndebourne his role increasingly embraces his varied skills as a compelling presenter, educator and conductor.
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Clive Timms – Clonter’s Former Music Director

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 Guildhall 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, La bohème and Don Giovanni.
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Compère

Anna Meadmore

After training at the Guildhall School of Music and the London Opera Centre, Anna joined the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. She was then a member of the BBC singers, broadcasting live as well as doing tours, recordings and Proms, and performed as a soloist with the Monteverdi Choir, in London and all over Europe. She sang with Opera North, and understudied the role of “Jennifer” in Tippett’s “The Midsummer Marriage”, at ENO. Anna was also principal soprano in Gilbert and Sullivan concerts, touring Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, beginning at the Sydney Opera House, and later the Lincoln Center, New York, and Queen Elizabeth Center, Vancouver. Her solo work with the English Bach Festival included recordings of Vivaldi for EMI and staged productions at the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Opera House. One of the highlights was singing in a Rameau opera in the historic theatre within the Palace of Versailles. After moving to Cheshire, Anna was soprano soloist in BBC performances of the Verdi Requiem and Haydn’s Creation. She gave a Manchester Mid-Day Concert recital, accompanied by Robin Humphreys, and further recitals at Jodrell Bank Planetarium and Tabley House. She sang Mozart and Ravel with the Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra and the Strauss “Four Last Songs” with the Stockport Symphony Orchestra. For Wilmslow Opera she took the principal soprano roles in La Traviata, La Sonnambula and Faust, and appeared for two years in Phantom of the Opera, in Manchester, as the opera singer “Carlotta”. As presenter, compère and adjudicator Anna has worked at concerts in the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, and the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and compered a Millennium Prom in Leeds Town Hall. On another new career path, Anna now works as a speaker on cruises.
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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 productions from the late 1990s until 2013. He has appeared with the Manchester Camerata in the world premiere 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.
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Contestants

Sam Hird – RCM

Sam is a Masters student at the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of baritone Peter Savidge and repertoire coach Caroline Dowdle. He was joint winner of the Prix Thierry Mermod vocal award at the 2023 Verbier Festival. Other recent Engagements include Respighi’s La Bella Dormente nel Bosco, Libby Larsen’s Barnum’s Bird, Gazzaniga’s Don Giovanni Tenorio (all at the RCM), Jesus in Bach’s St John Passion with Milton Keynes Chorale, and as a Rising Star at the Shipston Song Festival. In March Sam will take on the role of Danilo in The Merry Widow for the RCM. Sam is a Samling Artist and is generously supported by the Josephine Baker Trust and the Richard Silver Scholarship.
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Madison Horman – RAM

New Zealand soprano Madison Horman is a member of Royal Academy Opera, studying with Nuccia Focile and Ingrid Surgenor. She previously studied the Royal Northern College of Music with Eiddwen Harrhy. She has performed Countess Almaviva, Mrs Gobineau and Ellen Orford, along with scenes from Arabella, La Bohème, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Peter Grimes and La Rondine. Her 2023 competition success includes; second in the Lockwood New Zealand Aria, winning the Richard Lewis/ Jean Shanks Prize (RAM), and Tait ROSL Award for most outstanding New Zealand musician. She won the 2022 Bessie Cronshaw/Frost Brownson Song Cycle Prize at the RNCM along with the Brigitte Fassbaender Award for the best singing of Lieder. Madison’s studies are generously supported by the Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Scholarship, the Wayne Sleep Foundation, and Madison gratefully acknowledges the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation who have provided her with mentoring and financial support.
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James Schouten – RCS

Canadian-born tenor James Schouten is studying at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under the tutelage of Stephen Robertson. James’ switched from high baritone to tenor in 2019 after graduating from the Royal College of Music. His performed operatic roles include: Don Jose Carmen (Opera in Oborne), Laca Jenufa (Fulham Opera), Isepo La Gioconda (Grange Park Opera), Eisenstein Die Fledermaus (Opera Gold), Parpignol La boheme (Opera UpClose), Starveling A Midsummer Nights’ Dream (RCMIOS), Bartolo Il barbiere di siviglia (PopUp Opera), Silvio I Pagliacci (Hampstead Garden Opera) and Harlekin Ariadne auf Naxos (Queens’ Opera). Recent contemporary projects include Tony (West Side Story), Animus/Pianist in Simone Spagnolo’s Even you lights, cannot hear me (Opera in the City Festival), Nebuchadnezzar in Joseph Cabons’ To Himself, Alone, Jawad in Orlando Gough’s Weather The Storm (Garsington Opera/Rosetta Life), Scarpia/Musical Director/Keys Rock Tosca, and Jon/Composer/Musical Director of lockdown micro-opera Threshold for OperaVision’s 2020 competition Opera Harmony. Upcoming performances include Prince Charmant Cendrillon (RCS Opera), Idomeneo Idomeneo (RCS Opera) and Loge Das Rheingold (Regents Opera) James is generously supported by ABRSM, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust and The Opera Awards Foundation Bursary.
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Ana Balestra – GSMD

Ana-Carmen Balestra, a Dutch-Argentine soprano, graduated cum laude from the Conservatory in Amsterdam. She continued her studies at the Opera Academy in Copenhagen, performing as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro and Dalinda in Ariodante. Currently, on a full scholarship, she pursues the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. In the upcoming season, Ana portrays the roles of Sleeping Beauty in La bella dormente nel bosco, Susanna in a new opera by Stephen McNeff, and the title role in Handel’s Alcina at Guildhall. Ana was recently featured on the BBC Radio 3, showcasing Kaija Saariaho’s songs. Also, she recently won the Guildhall Wigmore Prize which gives her the opportunity to sing a full recital at the Wigmore Hall in April 2024. Ana sang on different festivals like Tête-à-tête, Copenhagen Opera, Rotterdam Opera, and the Waterperry Opera Festival, portraying Frasquita in Carmen. Noteworthy performances include opening for Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam and debuting at the Concertgebouw in 2023. She’s been honored with the Miluška Duffková scholarship, first prize in the Opera Viva competition, and the Sinfonia Rotterdam award.
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Jessica Hopkins – RNCM

Soprano Jessica Hopkins is currently studying for an PGDip under Mary Plazas at the RNCM, where she previously completed her MMus. Prior to this, she read music as a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge. Recent roles include Snow Maiden (The Snow Maiden, RNCM), Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park, RNCM), Cendrillon (Massenet’s Cendrillon, Bedfordshire Youth Opera) and Clorinda (La Cenerentola, Aylesbury Opera), and she looks forward to performing as Giulia in La Scala di Seta at the RNCM this March. Jessica took part in the 2022-23 RNCM/Opera North Chorus Mentor Scheme and appeared as a Young Artist with the Buxton International Festival for their 2022 and 2023 seasons, performing in the chorus for La donna del lago and La Sonnambula. Jessica is extremely grateful to Help Musicians UK, the Tillett Trust, the Colin Keer Trust, the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and the Waverley Fund for their support towards her studies this year.
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André Soares – RWCMD

André Batalha Soares is a baritone from Portugal where he started vocal studies in 2009. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2022, joining the David Seligman Opera School for his MA in Advanced Opera Performance. Recent engagements include Gaoler in Dialogues of the Carmelites (RWCMD), Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (NWOS), Vater in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel (RWCMD) and Schaunard in Puccini’s La bohème (Cardiff Opera). André is supported by the Leverhulme Trust Scholarship Fund and was the recipient of the Philippa & David Seligman Award for Excellence.
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Interlude Pianist


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Stephen Reynolds

Stephen Reynolds has been heard as a pianist and composer in concerts and broadcasts across Europe and the UK. His compositions feature in Stephen Hough’s English Piano Album (Hyperion)​. He was a prize winner at the Gian Baptista International Piano competition in Vercelli, Italy in 1972. His association as a pianist/accompanist for Clonter Opera began in 1974, as a consequence of his association with Mezzo-Soprano Betty Bannerman (Jeffery Lockett’s mother) at the Royal Northern College of Music.
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Ticket Pricing & Booking Information

Tickets £22, £29, £35, £41, FREE for 26-year-olds and under (ID may be required)

Group Discount (10% Discount) 10+

U3A Discount (10% Discount)

Doors Open 6pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Performance Finished Approx. 11pm

Interval 70 minute supper interval; pre-order supper, or bring your own picnic

Dress Code Optional black tie
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Drink Arrangements – Please note that any drink consumed inside the premises must be purchased from the bar. For Friends and Patrons of Clonter who wish to bring their own drink, a corkage fee of £4 per person will apply (payable in advance on 01260 224514).
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N.B. Table and catering booking facilities close a week before the performance date. Pre-order drinks facilities close at 4pm on the Wednesday before the performance.
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Partnered with Tickets for Good – Click here for more info
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