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ENO announces Harewood Artists for the 17/18 season

17th September 2017 in Press

English National Opera (ENO) it delighted to announce four new ENO Harewood Artists, joining the eight singers that will remain part of the programme. David Ireland, Božidar Smiljanić, Katie Stevenson and Elgan Llŷr Thomas will join the ENO Harewood Artist programme for two years, beginning in the 17/18 season, alongside existing ENO Harewood Artists Katie Coventry, Eleanor Dennis, Matthew Durkan, Rhian Lois, Soraya Mafi, Samantha Price, Andri Bjorn Robertsson and David Webb.

The ENO Harewood Artists, formerly the ENO Junior Company Principals and ENO Young Singers Programme, enables exceptionally talented British and British-trained singers to perform career-building roles with a major opera company while receiving specialist coaching, support and guidance. Across the 2017/18 season over 20 principal roles will be taken by current or former ENO Harewood Artists.

The ENO Harewood Artist programme began in 1998 and is renowned for its development of many of the UK’s most cherished young opera singers. Former ENO Harewood Artists include Sophie Bevan, Mary Bevan, Katherine Broderick, Allan Clayton, Madeleine Shaw, Nicky Spence, Julia Sporsén, Sarah Tynan and Kate Valentine.

This season, a number of small changes have been made to the programme in order to ensure that it continues to develop these young singers in the most supportive way possible. As ENO is now planning its opera seasons further in advance, a tailored, multi-year development programme has been established for each singer to ensure that they are performing and covering the roles most suitable to their voices across the next two years.

Under the scheme’s new structure, ENO will now cast Harewood Artists approximately 18 months before the start of the season in which they will first appear. They will receive coaching from that moment, alongside repertoire guidance and career advice. In addition to regular coaching sessions, the singers are awarded a bursary to enable them to partake in diction and language coaching, dialogue coaching, acting and dramaturgy sessions, performance psychology and Alexander Technique.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Stevenson will make her professional debut at ENO in Marnie in November, after graduating from the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music this summer. She will also cover the role of Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Bass-baritone David Ireland joins from the National Opera Studio and will cover the role of Dr Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. Tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas will make his ENO stage debut at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre as Prologue/Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw. Prior to this he will be covering the role of Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. Bass-baritone Božidar Smiljanić will take to the London Coliseum stage as the Marchese d’Obigny in La traviata. Having previously debuted at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Garsington, Božidar will also cover the role of Figaro in ENO’s The Marriage of Figaro this spring.

ENO Artistic Director, Daniel Kramer said:
“I am so pleased to welcome these four fantastic singers to our Harewood Artist family. Our ENO Harewood Artists are an integral part of our onstage performances, as well as vital to the work of our learning and participation programme, ENO Baylis. The changes that we have made to the scheme will ensure that ENO remains at the forefront of developing these gifted, exciting singers, and I am delighted that our audience will have the opportunity to hear more from all of them very soon.”

ENO Music Director, Martyn Brabbins added:
“Developing the next generation of operatic talent is absolutely key to what we do at ENO. We are so very proud of the Harewood Artist programme and of our many highly respected Harewood Artist alumni. I am thrilled to be welcoming on board these four new singers, and welcoming back to the programme eight existing ENO Harewood Artists. I look forward to the wonderful music that I know all of these artists will contribute to across the coming seasons.”

Notes to editors:

For images of ENO’s four new Harewood Artists please download here: https://we.tl/7HR1vWZqjd

Harewood Artists for English National Opera’s 17/18 season are:
Katie Coventry (Mezzo-Soprano)
Eleanor Dennis (Soprano)
Matthew Durkan (Baritone)
David Ireland (Bass-Baritone)
Rhian Lois (Soprano)
Soraya Mafi (Soprano)
Samantha Price (Mezzo-Soprano)
Andri Björn Robertsson (Bass-Baritone)
Božidar Smiljanic (Bass-Baritone)
Katie Stevenson (Mezzo-Soprano)
Elgan LLyr Thomas (Tenor)
David Webb (Tenor)

The ENO Harewood Artist programme was established in 1998 as a means of providing a full-time training and performance scheme for talented singers at the beginning of their careers. This allowed them to continue their technical development within the professional environment of a repertory opera company.

The name honours the long-standing support and leadership of the company by Lord Harewood, whose work at ENO spanned over 40 years. He made a huge contribution to ENO, and opera in general, during his remarkable life as Managing Director, Chairman and latterly President of ENO, and in overseeing the creation of Opera North.

ENO Harewood Artists makes a vital contribution to the next generation of operatic talent. The programme costs over £200,000 a year to deliver and is funded entirely through donations. Each year ENO runs a Match Campaign which enables supporters to double their donation through the generous support of four individuals. This year’s Match Campaign will run from Monday 20 November to Thursday 30 November.

David Ireland
Bass-Baritone David Ireland has recently completed his time as a Young Artist at the National Opera Studio, having previously studied on the Opera and Artist Diploma courses at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Dean. Operatic performances have included King René Iolanta, Collatinus The Rape of Lucretia, and Ottavio Le donne curiose at the GSMD and L’Arbre L’Enfant et les sortilèges at the Barbican Centre. He has also covered the roles of Zaretsky Eugene Onegin and Neptune Idomeneo as an Alvarez Young Artist for Garsington Opera and, for the Royal Opera at Camden Roundhouse, Charon in Monteverdi’s Orfeo.

David’s performances on the concert platform have included Verdi Requiem, Handel Messiah, Tippett A Child of our Time in Glasgow Cathedral, Bach Mass in B Minor in Canterbury Cathedral, Mozart Requiem in Chichester Cathedral, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle in Rochester Cathedral and Haydn Creation at Colston Hall, Bristol.

Božidar Smiljanić
Since his professional debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014, Božidar Smiljanić has enjoyed a busy first professional season since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2016. A recent string of debuts in the UK have included at Garsington Opera as Haly (L’italiana in Algeri) under David Parry, his first Masetto (Don Giovanni) with Glyndebourne on Tour, and his first Schaunard (La bohème) with Scottish Opera, alongside appearances with both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert performance of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust under John Nelson, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard under John Wilson.

Alongside his ENO commitments, Božidar joins Jakub Hrůša and Bamberger Symphoniker for concert performances as Masetto in Bamberg and at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, and sings Don Simone in Mozart’s La finta semplice under Ian Page for the grand re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

A regular on the concert platform, he has performed an extensive range of oratorio works and song recitals across the UK.

Having previously been awarded first prize in the Blythe-Buesst Operatic Competition and the Sacred Aria Prize in the Mozart Singing Competition, most recently, Božidar was awarded the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award which culminated in an evening recital at St Martin in the Fields. Božidar is the recipient of the Robert Easton Award, as well as the Charles Mackerras Opera Scholarship and the Matthew & Sally Ferrey Scholarship.

Katie Stevenson
In 2015 British mezzo-soprano and Royal Academy of Music graduate Katie Stevenson Katie was the recipient of all three prizes at the Wagner Society Singing Competition, culminating in an invitation to attend the Bayreuth Young Scholars Programme, as well as winning the 2016 Marjorie Thomas Art of Song prize. As part of her commitments as a Harewood Artist, she will also cover the roles of Mrs Alexander (Satyagraha) and Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) this season.

Additional commitments elsewhere include the title role in Porpora’s L’Agrippina for Barber Opera and Third Lady in Netia Jones’ new production of Die Zauberflöte for Garsington Opera under Christian Curnyn.

On the concert platform Katie recently made her BBC Proms debut singing Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo and also performed Kindertotenlieder with the Orquesta Sinfónica Del Principado De Asturias in Bilbao. Elsewhere, engagements have included both Elijah and Messiah with the Grantham Choral Society, The Kingdom with Kidderminster Choral Society and The Music Makers at Arundel Cathedral.

Elgan Llŷr Thomas
Elgan Llŷr Thomas is a tenor from Llandudno, North Wales. He graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester in 2012 and subsequently completed his M.Perf degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London under the tutelage of Prof. Susan McCulloch. He completed his studies on the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s prestigious Opera Course in 2016.

He recently completed his time with Scottish Opera as an Emerging Artist where he made his company and role debut as Nemorino in their touring production of The Elixir of Love. He also performed in their production of Philip Glass’s The Trial as Titorelli/Flogger/Berthold and their annual Opera Highlights tour. Elgan won the 2015 Stuart Burrows International Voice Award, its inaugural Audience Prize and the Kerry-Keane Young Artist Prize as well as the Audience Prize at the 2015 Les Azuriales Opera Young Artists programme in Nice.

Forthcoming engagements include Lindoro in The Italian Girl in Algiers at the Mananan International Festival, cover Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris and Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos for Scottish Opera and Opera Holland Park.

English National Opera is founded on the belief that opera of the highest quality should be accessible to everyone. We are a national company of international standard. We forge ground-breaking collaborations across art forms, and our world-class productions inspire, surprise, and captivate. We sing in English. We believe that singing in our own language connects the performers and the audience to the drama onstage, and enhances the experience for all. We bring our productions to the widest possible audience, whether at the London Coliseum, nationally or internationally. We make our work accessible by offering a large proportion of tickets at affordable prices, and by distributing it widely on screen and via digital media. We nurture talent across the entire company, whether on-stage, backstage, or in the pit. We provide a platform for young singers to develop global careers.

We tell the world’s most timeless stories, unforgettably.