19 December 2016, 7.30pm - Middle Temple Hall, London
Following last year’s sell-out performance of Messiah at Middle Temple Hall, Classical Opera returns to present the final concert of the 2016 Temple Winter Festival.
Premiéred in Dublin in 1742, Messiah received its first London performance a year later. After an initially lukewarm reception it grew in popularity during Handel’s final years, and it now enjoys a position as one of the most famous and frequently performed choral works in Western music. Classical Opera’s previous performances of Messiah have been highly praised for their intimacy, narrative sweep and dramatic intensity, and this concert, in the exquisite setting of Middle Temple Hall (where Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night received its first performance) promises to be a memorable evening.
Tickets £25- £65.
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 Figaro, Così 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 very different from their modern counterparts. Access to new materials through global trade and advances in technology mean that today’s instruments are lighter and more robust, and might also be more naturally resonant. Most 18-century instruments are far more exposed and difficult to play than their modern equivalents, 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.
Sarah Fox sang in Classical Opera's first two productions - as Hyacinthus in Apollo et Hyacinthus and Rosina in La finta semplice - and she recorded the role of Barmherzigkeit in Classical Opera's Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots. Other roles have included Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Servilia (La clemenza di Tito) for Welsh National Opera and Asteria (Tamerlano), opposite Placido Domingo, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bayerische Staatsoper, Berlin and the Liceu, Barcelona.
Angela Simkin (mezzo-soprano) studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal College of Music, where she was a member of the International Opera School, and the National Opera Studio. She made her Classical Opera début last year, singing the role of Lucilla in the UK première of Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, and she returned later in the year for Handel’s Messiah at Middle Temple Hall. Her other roles have included Nancy (Albert Herring) and Madama la Rose (La gazzetta) at the Royal College of Music, and Teseo (Arianna in Creta) and Iside (Giove in Argo) for the London Handel Festival. This season she joined the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where she has sung Mlle Dangeville (Adriana Lecouvreur), the title role in Handel’s Oreste (at Wilton’s Music Hall), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), and Flora Bervoix (La traviata).
Stuart Jackson was a choral scholar at Christ Church, Oxford before completing his training at the Royal Academy of Music in 2013. He won second prizes at both the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and at the Hugo Wolf Competition in Stuttgart. He was a Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2013, and during the 2013/14 season he joined the Stuttgart Opera Studio, where he performed the title role in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Gastone (La traviata), Abdallo (Nabucco) and Second Priest (Die Zauberflöte). He is currently a Classical Opera Associate Artist, and with the companyhe has sung Osroa in J. C. Bach’s Adriano in Siria, Lucio Vero in Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, and Soliman on the company’s acclaimed recording of Mozart’s Zaide. He also appears in the title role on Classical Opera’s recording of Mozart’s Il Sogno di Scipione, due for release in October 2017.
Neal Davies studied at King's College, London, and the RAM, and won the Lieder Prize at the 1991 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Operatic appearances have included Major General Stanley (The Pirates of Penzance) and Ko-Ko (The Mikado) for the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Giulio Cesare, Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and Alaska Wolf Joe (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny), for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; L'Allegro, Zebul (Jephtha), Publio (La clemenza di Tito), Ariodates (Xerxes) and Kolenaty (The Makropoulos Case) for the English National Opera; Leporello (Don Giovanni) for the Scottish Opera and Montreal Opera; Leporello, Dulcamara (L'elisir d'amore), Zebul and Sharpless (Madame Butterfly) for Welsh National Opera. His wide discography includes Messiah, Theodora, Saul and Creation (Gramophone Award 2008) under McCreesh, Jenůfa and Makropulos Case under Mackerras, Barber's Vanessa under Slatkin, Messiah under Rene Jacobs, the Hyperion Complete Schubert Edition with Graham Johnson and Britten's Billy Budd with Daniel Harding (Grammy Award, 2010).