Venus & Adonis/Dido & Aeneas - Cast Biographies
Musical Director - William Cole
William Cole was born in London in 1990, and read Music at Clare College, Cambridge where he graduated in 2013 with double First Class Honours. As well as his work with Opera Lyrica, William is Music Director of multi-genre club night Filthy Lucre, and is Trainee Conductor of the Goldsmiths Choral Union. He has also worked with the Melos Sinfonia, Gestalt Arts collective, the Hampshire Sinfonia and all the Cambridge University ensembles in a broad range of orchestral, operatic and choral repertoire, and has worked as assistant to Sir Roger Norrington, Stephen Cleobury and Martin Yates. He has a particular interest in contemporary music, and has given performances of music by Vivier, Scelsi, Feldman, Tansy Davies and Romitelli (UK premiere of Lost), as well as many new works.
Recent performances of William’s compositions have been given by Britten Sinfonia, Piotr Anderszewki, The Hermes Experiment, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, the choirs of Clare and College, Cambridge and Gloucester Cathedral, the Cambridge University New Music Ensemble and the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, with festival appearances include the Ludlow Festival of English Song, L’Aura des Arts, Nonclassical and the Three Choirs Festival. Winner of the 2013 John Sanders Memorial Competition, his works have been heard at venues across the UK, Europe and in America and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and he is one of today's youngest published composers, with his choral music published by Encore Publications. Future projects include a new horn trio for the Swaledale Festival.
William is also active as a pianist, with recital partners including Stephen Varcoe, and was a Choral Scholar at Clare College. Community work has involved workshops with young children in the south of England as part of the Elastic Band, collaborations with children in Soweto, Johannesburg, and projects with English Touring Opera. He writes for Interlude HK and TEMPO, and holds the position of Choral Director at London’s Youth Music Centre.
Venus - Belinda Evans
Lyric coloratura soprano Belinda Evans, born and raised in Somerset, obtained a Vocal Diploma at the Welsh College of Music and Drama following a BA(Hons) Music Degree from Bath Spa University College. She is a Britten-Pears Young Artist and now studies with Laura Sarti. Recent operatic roles include Despina, Così fan tutte and Norina, Don Pasquale with Pavilion Opera; Violetta, La Traviata, Opera UK; Frasquita, Carmen, New Devon Opera; Fiordiligi, Così fan tutte, Savannah Philharmonic USA; Mimì in Opera Up Close’s Award winning production of La Bohème at the Soho Theatre, London’s West End. She has appeared as a soloist at The Cadogan, Colston and Birmingham Symphony Halls.
Belinda has appeared in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in the West End
following her success when she was chosen from over 6000 hopefuls as a
Finalist in the BBC TV series ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’.
She represented England singing the National Anthem at The Rugby World
Cup in Australia, and has since sung at the BBC Sports Personality 50th
Programme and at Wembley Arena.
Please visit www.belindaevans.co.uk for further information and forthcoming events.
Adonis - Chris Webb
Acclaimed as "commanding and alluring" by Early Music Today for his recent performance as Giove in Cavalli's La Calisto (Hampstead Garden Opera), bass Christopher Webb is establishing himself as an assured interpreter of early opera roles. Recent roles have included Sleep/Winter (Purcell Fairy Queen - Ars Eloquentiae) and Melisso (Handel Alcina - Musica Poetica London), and Chris is delighted to be making his Opera Lyrica debut as Adonis. Other operatic experience has included Superintendent Budd (Britten Albert Herring - HGO), Theseus (Britten A Midsummer Night's Dream - Aldeburgh, alongside Matthew Rose), and Tonseisha: the man who abandoned the world (Kim Ashton - saltpeter) at last summer's Tête à Tête Festival.
Whilst at university, Chris sang with the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, the Cambridge University Chamber Choir, and the Rodolfus Choir. With Clare College he appeared as a soloist under Sir Roger Norrington at St John's, Smith Square, and live on BBC Radio 3 with the Academy of Ancient Music. He now sings with a number of professional vocal ensembles in London and across the UK. He has recently completed a series of projects with the Zürcher Sing-Akademie based at Tonhalle, Zürich. In lighter mood, Chris performs and records with a cappella group Over the Bridge, acclaimed as "worthy successors to the King's Singers" by Gramophone magazine.
Forthcoming recitals include collaborations with soprano Philippa Bonnet in Milton Keynes and London, and bass cantatas of the French and German schools with Musica Poetica London and Oliver-John Ruthven, in London and Malta.
Dido - Esther Brazil
Hailed as “truly exceptional” by The Observer for her performance of Bach at the Royal Albert Hall, Esther Brazil is in great demand as a concert soloist. After graduating from Oxford, where she was a choral scholar at The Queen’s College, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music, receiving generous support in the form of full scholarships in both years from the Lucille Graham Trust and Kohn Foundation, and graduated with an MA with Distinction.
Esther has just completed a tour with the English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, performing Bach’s solo cantata “Mein Herze Schwimmt im Blut” (BWV 199). She was a finalist in the London Bach Society’s Bach Singers Prize, and has also appeared as a soloist with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Handel Orchestra, and Brook Street Band. Operatic roles have included the title role in Alcina, Rosina (Barber of Seville), Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), Euridice (L’Orfeo), Mrs Slender (Salieri’s Falstaff), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Juno (The Judgment of Paris), Grand Duchess of Monteblanco (A Dinner Engagement), and Ninfa/Proserpina (L’Orfeo) at with La Nuova Musica at King’s Place.
Other recent highlights have included a critically-acclaimed recording of Handel’s Dixit Dominus with the Brook Street Band, Ninfa/Proserpina in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at King’s Place, Erster Geist in Schumann’s Manfred with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and solo appearances in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Dixit Dominus with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She studies with Susan Roberts.
Aeneas - Christopher Diffey
Christopher Diffey was born in Melbourne, Australia and completed his postgraduate training in London at the Royal Academy of Music (Opera Course). Awards include the English Touring Opera Young Artist bursary, as well as the Norman McCann Scholarship and Picker Trust Award at the Royal Academy of Music. Operatic engagements include Odoardo/Ariodante (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence), Condulmiero/Maometto Secondo (Garsington Opera), Triplet 1/Clemency and Mercury/Orpheus in the Underworld (Scottish Opera), Pedrillo/Abduction from the Seraglio (Iford Opera), Fenton/Falstaff (Longborough Festival), Alfredo/La Traviata (Opera South, Opera UK, Garden Opera), Count Almaviva/The Barber of Seville (Opera Brava, Garden Opera, OperaUpClose), Nanki Poo/The Mikado (Opera Della Luna), Prunier/La Rondine (Opera di Peroni), Cavaradossi/Tosca (Opera Novella), Rodolfo/La Bohème (Cambridge Graduate Orchestra & OperaUpClose), Don José/Carmen (Garden Opera, OperaUpClose), Barney/Circus Tricks & Talus/Icarus (Tête à Tête – World Premieres), Second Priest/The Magic Flute (Opera Holland Park) and Dardanus/Dardanus (RAO). Covered roles include Triplet 1 & 2/Clemency (ROH2, World Premiere) and Lysander/A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Garsington Opera). Concert experience includes Bach/Christmas Oratorio (Manchester Camerata & Leeds Philharmonic), Bach/Mass in A Major (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) and a recital of Baroque arias at London’s Handel House Museum. Christopher has worked with conductors including Sir Colin Davis, David Parry, Gustav Leohardt and René Jacobs. Future plans include Swanhunter with Opera North and Ariodante at Dutch National Opera.
Belinda - Anna Goodhew
Anna Goodhew studied singing at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She achieved a BMus (1st class honours) with a Concert Recital Diploma in 2010 and won a scholarship to continue onto the Guildhall Artist Masters the following year. Whilst there, Anna took part in masterclasses taken by Julius Drake, Graham Johnson, Catherine Wyn Rogers, Dame Josephine Barstow, Sally Burgess, Graham Clark and Susan McCulloch.
Anna made her operatic debut at the age of 19, singing the role of Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Brava). Since then she has appeared as Micaela in Carmen (Opera South East), Juliet in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (Riverside opera), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Zêzere Arts Festival, Portugal), Euridice in Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice (ZAF), the title role in Act 3 of Massenet’s Cendrillon (ZAF) and Blumenmädchen in Act 2 of Parsifal (Fulham Opera).
Concert highlights include Jonathan Miller’s staged production of St Matthew Passion (National Theatre), Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, Mozart song recital (Barbican Hall) and Iain Burnside’s Lads in Their Hundreds (London and Ludlow English Song Festival) which was featured on Radio 3’s In Tune.
Anna is a regular oratorio soloist and in recent years has performed in Handel’s Theodora, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Michal in Handel’s Saul, Dvorak’s Mass in D, Vivaldi and Parry Magnificats.
Awards include the Singer’s Prize at the Gerald Moore Award (2012), 2nd Prize at Guildhall’s English song Prize (2011) and finalist in Guildhall’s Susan Longfield Award (2011).
Cupid - James Hall
After a degree in Music at Cardiff University, countertenor James Hall went on to graduate from the Royal College of Music in 2012. Concert performance highlights have included JS Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium with Solomon’s Knot in St John's, Smith Square, Bach's St John's Passion with Lavenham Sinfonia, Unsuk Chin's Cantatrix Sopranica with Silbersee and Asko|Schönberg for the 2014 Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Holland, as well as recitals with pianist James Bailleau, and Albion Baroque in London.
James' operatic performances include Spirit and Second Witch in Dido & Aeneas (Dartington Hall, Vignette Productions, and OperaUpClose), the Military Governor in A Night at the Chinese Opera (British Youth Opera) Osmida in Jommelli’s La Didone (Ensemble Serse), Hamlet (cover) in David Bruce's The Firework Maker's Daughter with The Opera Group (an OperaNorth/ROH2 co-production), Endimione in Cavalli’s La Calisto (Hampstead Garden Opera), Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Aldeburgh), Oronte in Handel’s Riccardo Primo (London Handel Festival), and Bertarido in a concert performance of Rodelinda with the Amade Players (The Foundling Museum).
Upcoming projects include Pastore III in L'Orfeo for the Monteverdi Choir with Sir John Elliot Gardener in the USA and Versailles, and for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich; Bach Cantatas in Hertfordshire; and Bach's St Matthew Passion in St John's Smith Square, London.
Sorceror - Jack Lawrence-Jones
London-based baritone Jack Lawrence-Jones studies with Gary Coward at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Recent operatic roles include Tarqinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Jack is passionate about new music, recently creating the title role in Clive, a new opera by Ben Ashby (Gestalt Arts), and playing the role of Thomas Bowdler in The Equivocal Harriet Bowdler, by Alex Paxton (Rough For Opera).
At Cambridge, Jack sung with the Choir of Clare College, first under Tim Brown and then Graham Ross. Jack is generously supported by the Guildhall Trust, the Split Infinitive Trust and the OKS Trust.
Sailor - Guy Withers
Guy Withers is a light-lyric tenor from Bristol studying with Ryland Davies. A recent Cardiff University Music graduate (BMus hons.), Guy was awarded The Cardiff University Vocal Scholarship, The David Lloyd Prize for Singing and The Elizabeth Griffiths Prize. He has had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses under Robin Tritschler and Isobel Buchanan, and in addition has received tuition from John Hugh Thomas, Miriam Bowen, Ian Partridge, John Graham-Hall and conductor Stephen Higgins at ENO.
Guy is a member of Bristol Opera and Tessitoura Opera, and additionally has sung around the UK with White Horse Opera, Opera’r Ddraig, Opera Alumnus, Opera South, Ursula's Arrow and Guildford Opera Company. Principal roles include: Tamino (The Magic Flute), Basilio (The Marriage of Figaro), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Sailor & Aeneas (Dido & Aeneas), Edmondo & Lamplighter (Manon Lescaut), M. Triquet (Eugene Onegin), Jaquino (Fidelio), Spalanzani (The Tales of Hoffmann), Schoolmaster (The Cunning Little Vixen), Panatellas (La Perichole), Brack Weaver (Down in the Valley), Troubadour (The Perfect Fool), Nanki-Poo (Mikado), Gastone (La Traviata), Steersman (The Flying Dutchman) and Flute (A Midsummer Night's Dream [Opera Scenes]).
He is co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of Indomitable Productions, a multi-discipline performance company, and has also sung with The Exultate Singers, The National Youth Choir of Great Britain, The Rodolfus Choir and has been a Lay-clerk with Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choir. He is a regular with choirs and choral societies and has great experience in the operatic, oratorio and song repertoire of a light-lyric tenor.