Glyndebourne’s Jerwood Young Artists

Quite possibly the best yet! Four Glyndebourne hopefuls sang with beautiful voices, exceptional stage presence and that touch of star quality which will pull them out of the chorus.

Baritone Patrick Keefe opened with C.P.E. Bach’s bombastic ‘Fecit potentiam’, a long, blustering aria which is usually delivered in formal oratorio style. I found his acting a distraction from the quality of his singing. He returned later with songs by Finzi and W. Denis Browne, who was new to me, but both songs deserve a more intimate acoustic, and in filling the Dome they were too loud. It was with Yelestky’s impassioned aria from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Queen of Spades’ that he really shone, introspective and quiet but then bursting out and gloriously owning the space. This is what audiences will want to hear.

Soprano Charlotte Bowden began with ‘Endless pleasure’ from Handel’s ‘Semele’, an aria intended to endear the naïve nymph to Zeus and by inference to the audience – it worked! Two gorgeous Rachmaninov songs demonstrated a much richer voice. Later she delivered Gilda’s ingenuous aria ‘Caro nome’ from ‘Rigoletto’ with delicate pathos and confident coloratura.

The slender bass/baritone Jack Sandison began with Handel’s ‘Ombra ma fu’, an aria these days jealously appropriated by counter-tenors. However, the rich quality of his voice will allow him to sing anything. He returned with beautiful renditions of Copeland’s arrangement of the Baptist hymn ‘At the River’ and Ireland’s ‘Sea Fever’ – I’ve never heard seagulls so quiet! His operatic choice was clever, Leporello’s taunting catalogue song from ‘Don Giovanni’. This long, repetitive aria demands exquisite stamina and acting. Sandison’s personification of the seedy, sly and mocking accomplice to Mozart’s libertine Don was wickedly good. He skilfully managed the handful of top notes that aren’t yet in his range by singing them quietly, in tune, but acting through them. The effect was to accent the comedy.

Soprano Cleo Lee-McGowan also gave a splendidly varied programme, starting with Susanna’s teasing aria ‘Deh vieni non tardar’ from ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, followed later by romantically dream-themed songs from Liszt and Grieg. She kept these intimate in spite of the vast hall. Finally, it was for her to complete the recital with Musetta’s exhilarating and flirty Act II aria from Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’ – she brought the house down!

Once more, under the hands of the chimerical Matthew Fletcher, the Steinway grand assumed the roles of a stately harpsichord, a salon piano and a full romantic orchestra, adding so much colour and style to each performance, allowing these four young stars to shine so brightly.

Dome Concert Hall,
20 May 2022
Rating: ★★★★½
Andrew Connal

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