SIR SIMON KEENLYSIDE – Baritone – 1984 – 1987
Simon Keenlyside made his operatic debut, as a British Baritone, here at Clonter Opera Theatre in 1984. “I learned a lot and am grateful for the platform which was my first attempt at an opera which has since taken me all over the world” – Simon. Simon became so successful, he first appeared in the Royal Opera House just 6 years later as Ping from Turandot. From 1994 onwards, Simon has performed with The Royal Opera almost every season. He has landed roles in various Operas such as Don Giovanni, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Macbeth (including on tour with The Royal Opera to Japan) and Giorgio Germont La traviata. He was appointed a CBE in 2003 and awarded a knighthood in 2018.
JONATHAN LEMALU – Bass Baritone – 2000
Jonathan’s association with Clonter Opera began in 2000; he was cast our production of The Marriage of Figaro and he continued his appearance here in 2001 in The Barber of Seville. Along with the rehearsal and training of stagecraft, vocal and physical stamina, Jonathan was awarded the 2000 Clonter Opera Prize winner; this provided him with the financial assistance to continue his vocal studies. Also, as a 2001 Singers Academy Member, Jonathan received invaluable coaching from John Tomlinson at the Royal Opera House. With a successful career as a Samoan bass baritone, in 2010, Jonathan was awarded with a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.
AMANDA ROOCROFT – Soprano – 1984
Amanda Roocroft’s first appearance Clonter Opera, was as a student of the Royal Northern College of Music, in 1984. Whilst studying, in 1988, she won the Kathleen Ferrier Award, and in 1989 she was praised by the British Critic, Michael Kennedy, for her performances in the college production of Cosi fan tutte. In the years between 1989 and 2010, Amanda has succeeded in performing at well-established events and venues including the Aix-en-Provence Festival, the Welsh National Opera, the Royal Opera House, The English National Opera, and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In 1994, she was also the subject of a Granada Television documentary, Amanda Roocroft: Opera’s Rising Star. As well as breaking into the British Opera circuit, Amanda succeeded in the North America, appearing in Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira at the Metropolitan Opera, and sang at Houston Grand Opera. In 2003, the University of Manchester awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Music. For her performance in Jenufa in the English National Opera in 2007, Amanda received the Laurence Oliver Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Throughout her career, Amanda has also had the great pleasure of performing with the likes of Sir Simon Rattle, Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, and has made regular appearances at the London BBC Proms and at the Edinburgh International Festival.
LEE BISSET – Soprano – 2000/2006
Lee performed the role of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin for Clonter in 2000, and returned to perform the role of Violetta in La traviata in 2006. She went on to represent Scotland at Cardiff Singer of the World and to join the Young Artists Programme at English National Opera. She has since sung principal roles for companies including the Dorset Opera Fest of Piet Swerts’ Symphony of Trees with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of this season for Lee Bisset have included a return to Opera Omaha in the title role of Tosca and the premiere of Piet Swerts’ Symphony of Trees with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra. Following major successes as Sieglinde in Opera North’s Die Walküre and Isolde in Longborough Festival Opera’s Tristan und Isolde, she will make her debut as Isolde at the Stadttheater Bern next season and, looking ahead, she will sing Brünnhilde in Longborough Festival Opera’s new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen.
NATALYA ROMANIW – Soprano – 2010/2011
Natalya won the Clonter Opera prize in 2010, and performed the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor for Clonter Opera in 2011. She went on to cover Armida in Handel’s Rinaldo for Glyndebourne on tour, and successfully auditioned for the young artist programmes at the MET, New York, The Jette Parker young artist programme, Covent Garden and Houston Grand Opera, Texas, which was the offer she accepted. In 2012 Natalya was the first ever recipient of both the Lovely Song Prize and first prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards. Subsequent accolades include representing Wales in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, where she was a Song Prize finalist. Last season Natalya was nominated for the Times Breakthrough Category at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. Most recent roles include Tatyana Eugene Oneginfor Garsington Opera, Lisa Queen of Spades in a return to Opera Holland Park, Jenufa for Grange Park Opera in their new Theatre in the Woods at West Horsley Place. In 2017-18, Natalya sings Tatyana Eugene Onegin, in her house debut with Welsh National Opera, and for Scottish Opera in a new production by Oliver Mears. Looking further ahead, Natalya will make her debut with English National Opera as Mimì La bohème.
ANUSH HOVHANNISYAN – Soprano – 2012
Since winning the Clonter Opera Prize in 2012, and performing in the Opera Gala of the same year, Anush joined the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, Covent Garden. In 2014 Anush won the 1st Prize in Concours Suisse Ernst Haefliger International Competition. As a Jette Parker Young Artist she performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2013-2015, and has worked under the direction of renowned conductors such as Jonathan Santagada, Renato Balsadonna, Semyon Bychkov, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Nicola Luisotti, Daniel Oren, Mark Wigglesworth, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Antonio Pappano. Anush is the winner of First and Public Prizes, Deutsche Grammophon and Royal Danish Opera special prizes at the 2016 Stella Maris Competition. Most recent and upcoming performances include Violetta Valery, La traviata, for Scottish Opera, Amaltea, Mose in Egitto, in Cadogan Hall, Berg Seven Early Songs and Beethoven Symphony No 9, with the Southbank Sinfonia, Strauss four Last Songs with Amicus Orchestra, and performing debut as Donna Anna, Don Giovanni, at New Generation Festival in Florence. Further to the unanimous praise on her debut as Violetta Valery La traviata, for Scottish Opera, Anush makes a house debut at the Welsh National Opera in 2018/2019 season in the same role.
RAPHAELA PAPADAKIS – Soprano – 2013
Raphaela played Gretel in Clonter’s 2012 production of Hansel and Gretel, returning to Clonter to win the Opera Prize in 2013, and performing in the Opera Gala later that same year. In 2014 she made her professional operatic début at Garsington Opera as Bathilde, Offenbach’s Vert-vert, as well as her song recital début at Carnegie Hall New York. Also Raphaela covered the Nymph in Michael Boyd’s production of Orfeo for the Royal Opera House, and the London première of Nicola LeFanu’s Tokaido Road, for which Raphaela created the role of the spurned geisha Kikuyo for the world première, Cheltenham Festival. Raphaela sang the role of Ann in the British première of Simon Vosecek’s Biedermann and The Arsonists, and won 1st Prize at the National Mozart Competition. Rafaela has recently completed the English National Opera’s training scheme for young artists, and gone on to cover at the Royal Opera House, and perform at the Berlin Staatsoper. Recent and future roles include the cover of the title role in Cavalli’s Hipermestra at Glyndebourne Fesitval Opera and Orestilla in Porpora’s L’Agrippina in its British premiere with Barber Opera.