Allan Clayton (tenor) is established as one of the most exciting and sought-after singers of his generation. He studied at St John’s College, Cambridge and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2007 he became an Associate Artist of Classical Opera and a BBC New Generation Artist, and his numerous awards include ‘The Queen’s Commendation for Excellence’ at the Royal Academy of Music, the John Christie Award for his Glyndebourne Festival début as Albert Herring, and a Borletti- Buitoni Trust Fellowship.
His opera roles have included Ferrando (Così fan tutte) for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Opera North, Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) for Welsh National Opera, English National Opera and the Komische Oper, Berlin, Castor (Castor et Pollux), Lysander (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Cassio (Otello) for English National Opera, and Third Angel/ John in George Benjamin’s award-winning opera Written on Skin at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, The Royal Opera, Netherlands Opera and the Bayerische Staatsoper.
He is equally in demand on the concert platform, and recent engagements have included Britten’s Spring Symphony with both the Philharmonia and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the title role in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex at the BBC Proms, and the Salzburg première of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius. A consummate recitalist, Allan has worked with many outstanding pianists, including Paul Lewis, Malcolm Martineau, Roger Vignoles and Julius Drake. His recordings have included Handel’s Messiah with both the Academy of Ancient Music (EMI) and the Britten Sinfonia (Hyperion), Belshazzar with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, Britten’s St Nicolas with the City of London Sinfonia (Hyperion), Cassio in Verdi’s Otello (LSO Live), and ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ and Der Christ in Mozart’s Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots with Classical Opera and Ian Page (Signum Classics).
Classical Opera was founded in 1997 by conductor Ian Page. It specialises in the music of Mozart and his contemporaries, performing with its own acclaimed period-instrument orchestra, and has emerged as one of the leading exponents in its field. The company has attracted considerable critical and public recognition, not only for the high quality and vibrancy of its performances but also for its imaginative programming and its outstanding track-record in discovering and nurturing world-class young singers.
Classical Opera has mounted staged productions of Mozart’s Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, Apollo et Hyacinthus, La finta semplice, Bastien und Bastienne, Mitridate, re di Ponto, Il re pastore, Zaide, Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte, and in 2009 it was invited to present The Royal Opera’s new production of Thomas Arne’s Artaxerxes. The company also appears frequently on the concert platform, and its repertoire ranges from cantatas by Handel and Pergolesi to symphonies by Beethoven and Schubert. It enjoys a particularly close relationship with Wigmore Hall, where it has presented several themed concert series, including a Mozart Travelogue series, a ‘Haydn at Esterhaza’ series, retrospectives of Handel, J. C. Bach, Haydn and Gluck, and solo programmes with Miah Persson, Sandrine Piau and Ann Hallenberg.
The company’s discography includes ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ (re-launched on Signum Classics in 2014), ‘Blessed Spirit – a Gluck retrospective’ (Wigmore Hall Live, 2010) and Arne’s Artaxerxes (Linn Records, 2011). In 2012 it embarked on a major new recording cycle of the complete Mozart operas, and the first four releases in this series – Apollo et Hyacinthus (2012), Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots (2013), Mitridate, re di Ponto (2014) and Il re pastore (2015) – have all attracted widespread critical acclaim. In 2015 Ian Page and Classical Opera launched MOZART 250, a ground- breaking 27-year project following the chronological trajectory of Mozart’s life, works and influences.
Ian Page (conductor) is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Classical Opera, and is emerging as one of the leading British conductors of his generation. 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, Glyndebourne and the Drottningholm Slottsteater in Sweden, 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 première 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, Telemann’s Orpheus and Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, as well as 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 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 an acclaimed new complete cycle of Mozart opera recordings with Classical Opera. He has also created and devised MOZART 250, Classical Opera’s ambitious 27-year journey through Mozart’s music and influences, which was launched in London in 2015.
Mary Bevan (soprano) read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Trinity College, Cambridge, before training at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She became an Associate Artist of Classical Opera in 2010, and is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and the UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent in Music.
Her opera roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Despina (Così fan tutte), Papagena (The Magic Flute), Yum-Yum (The Mikado), Second Niece (Peter Grimes) and Rebecca (in the world première of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys) for English National Opera, where she is a Harewood Artist, Gerechtigkeit (Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots), Tamiri (Il re pastore), Servilia (La clemenza di Tito) and Emma (Thomas Arne’s Alfred) for Classical Opera, Zerlina (Don Giovanni) for Garsington Opera, Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) for The English Concert, and – for The Royal Opera – Music/ Euridice (Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo) at the Roundhouse and the title role in Luigi Rossi’s Orpheus at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Her extensive concert engagements have included Bellezza (Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno) with the Dunedin Consort, a Handel residency with Emanuelle Haïm at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Handel’s Messiah with The English Concert and the English Chamber Orchestra, and she has appeared at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival, Spitalfields Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival. Her recordings include ‘Handel in Italy’ with London Early Opera for Signum Classics, Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth and Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day with Ludus Baroque for Delphian Records, and Ludwig Thuille songs with Joseph Middleton and Mendelssohn songs with Malcolm Martineau, both for Champs Hill Records.
Georg Frideric Handel was a composer from the Baroque period. Handel wrote primarily music-dramatic works: 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, which comes to a total amount of almost 2000 arias! Furthermore, he composed English, Italian and Latin sacred music, serenades and odes. Among his instrumental music are several organ concertos, concerti grossi, overtures, oboe sonatas and violinsonates, along with many solo works for harpsichord and organ.
Together with Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born in the same year (1685), Handel is viewed as one of the greatest composers of his time. He was extremely prolific and wrote in total more than 610 works, many of which are still performed today.
Compared to his contemporaries Bach, Telemann and Scarlatti, Handel was by far the most cosmopolitan. When Handel was a child, his father, who was a surgeon at the court of Saxe-Weissenfels, imagined a juridical career for him. But his musical talents did not go unnoticed at the court, which forced the father to let him study music. In Hamburg, Handel befriended Mattheson. Together they visited Buxtehude, the greatest organ player of his time, in 1703 (two years before Bach did). At that time, Handel was already an excellent musician, but it wasn't until his stay in Italy - the land of opera - that his talents and skills truly started to flourish. Back in Germany, he received a position at the court of Hannover, where the noblemen had a connection to the British throne. Thanks to these connections, Handel decided to move to London, after which a puzzling history of intrigues and political games started. For example, it is unclear what the exact political message of his famous Water Music is, which was composed for a boat ride on the river Thames by King George. Initially, Handel focused on Italian opera during his stay in London, but from the 1730s onwards he started composing English spoken oratorios, with the celebrated Messiah at its peak.