Last Wednesday, we were offered free tickets to see a recital given by two Jette Parker Young Artists, Rachel Kelly and Kiandra Howarth accompanied by David Gowland.
To put it all into context, the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme was set up by the Royal Opera House to provide promising singers who’ve graduated from a Music (on the whole) degree and are looking for a career in opera. It’s an arena for up to 16 participants to receive a tailored programme where they are fully integrated at the ROH and given their own roles as well as being understudy to some massive names. In short, it’s the dream; if you have the backing and expertise of the ROH, then you are sure to go on to great things and the Jette Parker alumni are testament to that!
Rachel Kelly and Kiandra Howarth are two of these very lucky “Jette setters” and I couldn’t have been more in awe when I settled down to listen to them sing some great duets, some of which I’d never heard like Thimann’s Spring Wind and a collection of songs by Brahms, Vier Duette. They then went on to sing some solo stuff which wasn’t originally billed** and so I have the embarrassing notion of telling you that Rachel Kelly performed a “mad” aria which she plans to sing at the Irish finals for Cardiff Singer of the World and don’t have a title for you. However, I can tell you that she was amazing! I’ve never witnessed a singer so close deliver a performance with such focus and absolute character and I was utterly convinced throughout. Kiandra performed a great Puccini aria with such and poise and it was great to see where I should be at should I ever be in a position to audition for the scheme. ** Rachel Kelly kindly responded to a tweet to advise that the aria she sang was “D’amour l’ardente flamme” from Damnation de Faust and is sung by Marguerite.
We then had the pleasure of asking them all some questions about the scheme when they came down to the Blackheath Halls bar in their casual attire. Questions such as,
“How much coaching do you receive in the programme?”
“As much as we like, it could be hours and hours a day but you learn quite quickly that that may damage your voice”
“How long do you get to learn a role you’ll be involved in?”
“We get the offer in January and have to give our response around a week or so later. Those roles will then be sang from September of that year onwards. Sometimes you can be asked to sing a role last minute but it’s up to you if you take that on”
We also asked questions about ensemble work, characterisation and memory tips before they had to leave. It was a wonderful night and I can’t wait until the Jette’s are back at Blackheath next month!