With singers from across the globe, expertly nurtured by artists of the calibre of Academy director Dennis O’Neill, displaying individual personalities and singing styles, this afternoon recital encapsulated the pleasure in hearing (and watching) young artists. What made this recital all the more enjoyable was that this afternoon of singing from 13 up-and-coming performers was spared the palaver of the operatunity knocks tv talent show taking place up the road.
The concert began with the confident and charming Shanul Sharma bringing a thrill or two (or three) with Tonio’s bright and happy Ah! Mes amis from Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. The Indian born former heavy metal bands vocalist displayed a natural elegance of vocal and performance style. The jollity continued with Croatian Nela Šarić delighting the audience with a an expressive and sprightly performance of Musetta’s Quando m’ en vo, from Puccini’s La Bohème. As with each of the performers, Nela was perfectly at ease not just singing but performing to the audience.
Australian soprano Rhian Saunders sang a tender and poignant Adieu notre petite table from Massennet’s Manon. This was a gentle and controlled performance from a young singer already gains plenty of international experience while, in total contrast, we had a strong and determined Elly Hunter Smith giving an intense, firmly focussed performance of the song Schmerzen, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.
Our first duet was a splendid La ci darem la mano from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Zerlina was sung with charm and innocence by soprano Claire Condipodero and fellow Australian Nathan Lay was a perfectly rackish Don.
British soprano Ellie Edmonds warmed into the gorgeous Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix, Saint- Saëns, Samson et Dalila, her performance elegant and refined while we had a characterful Kate Amos had more than a little spring in her step singing Norina’s Quel guardo il cavaliere from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
The first half of the programme concluded with not one but two Violettas from Veri’s La Traviata, first Hannah Dobra with a splendid Sempre Libera , full of life and energy, followed by Brindisi from a neatly paired Nela Šarić and Shanul Sharma.
Claire Condipodero opened the second half of the recital with a gorgeously chilling and moving Tu che di gel sei cinta from Puccini’s Turandot and a beautifully sung Depuis le jour from Charpntier’s Louise by Chloë Morgan, delicate, intricate and controlled.
Annina Gieré was heartfelt and mournful with Air de Lia from Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue and Sarah Hayashi displayed a natural presence with a warm and compelling Bel raggio lusinghier from Rossini’s Semiramide.
Nathan Lay returned to the stage exchanging the Verdi’s immoral seducer for Wagner’s Wolfram with O du, mein holder Abendstern, from Tannhäuser. The programme came to a sparkling conclusion with two very different duets. But before that we were in for another very different treat with a glorious Arshak Kuzikyan seducing us with a full-voiced Aleko’s Cavatina from Rachmaninov.
A lovely pairing of Sarah Hayashi and Chloë Morgan produced a scintillating Vanne a regnar, ben mio from Mozart’s Il Rè Pastore and then Shanul Sharma and Nathan Laybrough the afternoon to a seductive end with Au fond du temple saint, Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles. The singers were sympathetically accompanied by Wales International Academy of Voice alumni Gareth Llyr Simon.
Watch out for these names – there are plenty of young stars in the making.