Sydney mezzo-soprano wins a place on prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Last year London’s Royal Opera House recruited no less than three Australian singers to be a part of it’s high profile training scheme, the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. This year mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds, a rising star at home who has received excellent notices in recent years, becomes the latest opera hopefull to receive the Covent Garden call up.

From September, Edmonds will join Russian soprano Vlada Borovko, Irish soprano Jennifer Davis, Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim, British bass David Shipley and British stage director Richard Gerard Jones for two years intensive training in London. She should feel at home at the Royal Opera House as the new Young Artists will join the seven who continue on the Programme into their second year next Season – a lineup that includes Australian soprano Lauren Fagan, Australian tenor Samuel Sakker and Australian baritone Samuel Dale Johnson. At the same time, two other Aussies, soprano Kiandra Howarth and director Greg Eldridge will complete their time at Covent Garden.

The five singers and one director were selected from more than 370 applicants from 59 countries following a gruelling audition process that started back in August 2014. Preliminary auditions were held in London and Vienna in early October for singers who preferred singing live to sending a recording with their application. After that, 66 artists were selected to sing in the first of three further rounds with 28 progressing to the second round involving a one-to-one coaching session with David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Programme. A final shortlist of 12 singers auditioned on the Royal Opera’s main stage in front of a daunting panel which included Antonio Pappano (Music Director of The Royal Opera), Kasper Holten (Director of Opera), Peter Mario Katona (Director of Casting), David Syrus (Head of Music) and acclaimed Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny.

Emily Edmonds, a First Class Honours graduate in Vocal Performance from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a scholar with the Dame Nellie Melba Opera trust, has been on Limelight’s radar for some years now. She stood out in the role of Dritte Magd for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s concert performance of Strauss’s Elektra last February and before that impressed in the Australian premiere of George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill. Of her performance in Sydney Chamber Opera’s Owen Wingrave our reviewer wrote: “Edmonds is quite a force of nature. The role of Kate was written for Dame Janet Baker and it’s no backhanded compliment to say that she reminded me of the great mezzo on more than one occasion. The voice is ravishing, and powerful too, and she inhabits the role with a confidence that belies the musical complexity.”

Her success in winning such a prestigious place comes at a time that has seen other young Australian’s recognized overseas including soprano Siobhan Stagg getting called in to sing with the Berlin Philharmonic, Kiandra Howarth going on at Covent Garden in the lead in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and Opera Australia’s Nicole Car receive a nomination for Best Young Singer in the International Opera Awards.

For those wanting to hear what all the fuss is about, Edmonds will be singing the role of Asteria in Pinchgut Opera’s production of Vivaldi’s Bajazet this July.

Contribute to Limelight and support independent arts journalism.