Arne: Artaxerxes

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Ian Page

Ian Page is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Classical Opera. He began his musical education as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, and studied English Literature at the University of York before completing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. At the start of his career he worked on the music staff at Scottish Opera, Opera Factory, Drottningholm and Glyndebourne, working with such conductors as Sir Alexander Gibson, Nicholas McGegan, Mark Wigglesworth, Ivor Bolton and Sir Charles Mackerras.

With Classical Opera he has conducted most of Mozart’s early operas, including the world premières of the “original” version of Mitridate, re di Ponto and a new completion of Zaide, as well as Le nozze di FigaroCosì fan tutte and La clemenza di Tito. He has also conducted the UK premières of Gluck’s La clemenza di Tito and Telemann’s Orpheus, and the first new staging for 250 years of Johann Christian Bach’s Adriano in Siria. In 2009 he made his Royal Opera House début conducting Arne’s Artaxerxes at the Linbury Studio Theatre, and his studio recording of the work was released in 2011 on Linn Records.

He also devised and conducted Classical Opera’s recordings of ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ (Signum Classics) and ‘Blessed Spirit – a Gluck retrospective’ (Wigmore Hall Live), both of which were selected for Gramophone magazine’s annual Critic’s Choice, and he recently embarked on a new complete cycle of Mozart opera recordings with Classical Opera.



The Orchestra of Classical Opera

The Orchestra of Classical Opera plays on period-instruments, and comprises some of the leading players in their field.

The orchestra, which varies in size from 12 to 50 depending on repertoire and venue, has won consistently high praise from public and critics alike, and performs symphonies and concertos as well as operas.

18th century instruments are generally far more exposed and difficult to play than their modern counterparts, but they bring a thrilling vibrancy and immediacy to the music. This is particularly true of vocal repertoire, where the orchestra provide a dynamic subtext and often become an extra actor in the drama.


Christopher Ainslie

Christopher Ainslie appeared with Classical Opera in the title role of the Royal Opera’s production of Arne’s Artaxerxes and in our subsequent recording of the work, as Zephyrus in our recording of Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus, and in concert at Wigmore Hall. Christopher has rapidly established himself as a leading interpreter of the countertenor repertoire, and highlights on the opera stage include Innocent 4 (Birtwistle’s The Minotaur) at the Royal Opera House, Ottone (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Eustazio (Rinaldo) at Glyndebourne, Voice of Apollo (Death in Venice) for Opéra de Lyon, Ottone (Poppea) at Drottningholm, the title role in Tamerlano at the Göttingen Handel Festival, and Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Voice of Apollo and Ottone for Opera North.

Elizabeth Watts

Elizabeth Watts sings Mandane on Classical Opera’s recording of Thomas Arne’s Artaxerxes. She won the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Award and the Song Prize at the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Mozart roles include Zerlina (Don Giovanni) for the Royal Opera and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Susanna and the Countess (Le nozze di Figaro) and Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte) for Welsh National Opera, and Susanna for Santa Fe Opera. Other roles include Marzelline (Fidelio) for the Royal Opera, Almirena (Rinaldo) for Glyndebourne on Tour, and Iole (Hercules) and Tigrane (Radamisto) in concert with Harry Bicket and The English Concert.

Caitlin Hulcup

Caitlin Hulcup appears as Arbaces on Classical Opera’s recording of Thomas Arne’s Artaxerxes. Mozart opera roles include Dorabella (Così fan tutte) at the Wiener Staatsoper, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) at the Palau de les Arts Valencia, and Sesto (La clemenza di Tito) with Taipei Symphony, as well as Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro). Other opera roles include Enriquetta (I puritani) and Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at the Wiener Staatsoper, Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier) for Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Bolshoi Theatre and the NCPA Beijing, Aristeo Rossi’s Orpheus for the Royal Opera House, and the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo (Scottish Opera).

Andrew Staples

Andrew Staples became an inaugural Associate Artist of Classical Opera in 2006. With the company, he has appeared as Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Alessandro (Il re pastore) and Artabanes (Artaxerxes), and has sung in numerous concerts at Wigmore Hall, the Barbican and Kings Place. He also appears on our recording ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’. Andrew made his Royal Opera House début as Jacquino (Fidelio), returning as Flamand (Capriccio), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Artabenes (Arne’s Artaxerxes) and Narraboth (Salome), and has sung Belfiore (La finta giardiniera) for the National Theatre, Prague and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) for the Salzburger Festspiele. Other engagements include concerts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and London Symphony Orchestra among others.

Rebecca Bottone

Rebecca Bottone became an inaugural Associate Artist of Classical Opera in 2006. Her appearances with the company have included Sabina (Adriano in Siria), Sifare (Mitridate, re di Ponto), Servilia (Gluck’s La clemenza di Tito), Melia (Apollo et Hyacinthus), Despina (Così fan tutte), Elisa (Il re pastore) and Semira (Artaxerxes), as well as numerous concerts at Wigmore Hall and Kings Place. She can also be heard on our recordings of Artaxerxes and ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’. Other roles include Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) for the Aix-en-Provence Festival and Scottish Opera, First Innocent (world premiére of Birtwistle’s The Minotaur), Maid (Ades’ Powder Her Face) and First Niece (Peter Grimes) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Cricket and Parrott (world premiére of Dove’s Pinocchio) for Opera North and Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Garsington Opera.

Daniel Norman

Daniel Norman sings the role of Rimenes on Classical Opera’s recording of Thomas Arne’s Artaxexes. His numerous opera roles include Mime (Das Rheingold) for Oviedo Opera, Red Whiskers (Billy Budd) for Glyndebourne in New York, White Minister (Grand Macabre) for English National Opera, the title role in Arne’s Alfred for the Early Opera Company at the Covent Garden Festival, and Borsa (Rigoletto) in his début for the Royal Opera. Daniel appears on several recordings, including four volumes of the Hyperion Schubert Edition with Graham Johnson, the Grammy nominated recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Osmo Vänskä and Minnesota Orchestra, and his début solo disc, Britten’s Winter Words and Who Are These Children? with Christopher Gould (BIS).