The RAM Opera department was in good form last night with an excellent Puccini double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi conducted extremely well by Peter Robinson - the perfect person for dealing with young singers with utmost care and authority. And William Kerley directed effective productions of each piece which gave great opportunities to the emerging singers to demonstrate their skills in every department. This was one of RA Opera's best evenings.
There was much to enjoy in these two pieces which each give great opportunities to the ensemble of young singers that make up Royal Academy Opera. Personalities which stood out included of the course Céline Forrest as Suor Angelica - her qualities have been noted elsewhere on numerous occasions - a fine young singer. The vocally immensely strong Zia Principessa of Claire Barnett-Jones was extremely welcome in such a young company - and Emily Vine, Nika Goric, Anna Sideris once again showed their strong personalities.
In Gianni Schicchi there was a galaxy of personalities - the glowing tenor of Oliver Johnston making much of Rinuccio and the ever developing bass of Tristan Hambleton providing a striking Simone. Gwilym Bowen, Rhiannon Llewellyn and Božidar Smiljanić added to their already impressive resumés, and each other carefully drawn character was beautifully presented by these young singers. And above all by the splendid Schicchi Haobin Wang.
The show is well worth a visit - it is a showcase for many of the best young singers who will be populating our opera companies in the coming seasons.
This evening is another thing altogether - how much further can one get from Puccini than with Rameau? This will be William Christie and co at the Barbican.