Toby Spence

An honours graduate and choral scholar from New College, Oxford, Toby Spence studied at the Opera School of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In concert, Toby has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra under von Dohnanyi, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic under Rattle, the San Francisco Symphony under Tilson Thomas, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Pappano, the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Gergiev, the London Symphony Orchestra under Davis, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Nezet-Seguin, the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Dudamel, and at the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals under Norrington and Mackerras. Toby sang an acclaimed Madwoman in Britten’s “Curlew River” for the Edinburgh Festival, where he has also appeared in recital. Other recitals include the LSO St Lukes, Opera de Lille and the Wigmore Hall, and he has made numerous recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, BMG, Philips, Opera Rara, Collins, Linn Records, Hyperion and EMI.

For the English National Opera, Toby has sung Fenton, Ferrando, Tamino, Candide, Paris (“La Belle Hélène”) and Faust, and for the Royal Opera, Kudryash, Simpleton (“Boris Godunov”), Ferdinand (“The Tempest”), Count Almaviva, Ramiro and Tom Rakewell. He has also sung with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, the Paris Opera, the Monnaie, Brussels, the Netherlands Opera, the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, the San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera.

Pietro Spagnoli

Rome-born baritone Pietro Spagnoli made his debut in 1987 at the Teatro Comunale in Pergolesi’s Livietta e Tracolla, Florence. Since then he has performed widely in Italy and beyond, including Milan, Rome, Berlin and New York, with festival appearances in Salzburg and Pesaro. His repertoire includes roles such as Dandini in La Cenerentola, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and Leporello in Don Giovanni. Besides recording work for the Erato, Naxos and Harmonia Mundi labels, he sang the role of Filidoro in Donizetti’s La romanzesca e l’uomo nero, Elvida and Francesca di Foix for Opera Rara.

Victoria Simmonds

Victoria Simmonds studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 2000-2005 she was a company principal at ENO singing roles including Nancy T’ang/Nixon in China, Cherubino/Figaro, Zaida/The Turk in Italy, Pitti-Sing/The Mikado, Ascanius/The Trojans, Rosina/The Barber of Seville, Dorabella/Così fan tutte, Hermia/A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Zerlina/Don Giovanni. For Opera North she created the title role in Jonathan Dove’s highly acclaimed The Adventures of Pinocchio. She has also sung for Grange Park Opera, Garsington Opera, Opera Holland Park and the Buxton Festival and sang the title role of Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall. Abroad she has sung with the Netherlands Opera, Stuttgart and Halle Opera companies and Wellgunde/Das Rheingold with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle at the Aix Festival. In concert, she has sung in Le Comte Ory and the title role of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges at the Concertgebouw, and has worked with the Philharmonia, the Hallé, the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals and for the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis at the BBC Proms. Recordings include Bellini’s Il pirata for Opera Rara, Janacek’s Katya Kabanova (Varvara) for Chandos and Cefisa in Ermione by Rossini for Opera Rara.

Enkelejda Shkosa

Born in Tirana, Albania, in 1969, mezzo-soprano Enkelejda Shkosa made her debut in Strasbourg in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. She went on to study in Milan and won the Leyla Gencer international vocal competition in Istanbul in 1996. She has sung in all the major Italian opera houses and in Il viaggio a Reims at the Pesaro festival. Further afield, she sang in Jonathan Miller’s revived Royal Opera production of Cosi fan tutte in 1998, Verdi’s Otello under Sir Colin Davis in 1999, and was Angelina in La Cenerentola at the Theatre de la Monnaie, Brussels in 2000. She can be heard in the role of Emilia on Opera Rara’s recording of Rossini’s Otello and on La Potenza d’Amore.

Brindley Sherratt

Born in Lancashire, bass Brindley Sherratt studied at the Royal Academy of Music, of which he is now a Fellow and Visiting Professor At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden his roles have included Gremin (Eugene Onegin), Sparafucile (Rigoletto) and Ramfis (Aida) and in Salzburg he has sung Balducci (Benvenuto Cellini) with Gergiev, Hobson (Peter Grimes) with Rattle and Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro) on tour to Japan. At the Glyndebourne Festival he has appeared as Rocco (Fidelio), Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni) and Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring). A favourite at the English National Opera, his many roles there have included Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Pimen (Boris Godunov) and Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra). Other operatic engagements have included Sarastro at the Hamburg State Opera; Sarastro and Banco (Macbeth) for the Opéra de Bordeaux; Pimen for the Opéra de Nice; Rocco in Seville; Il Commendatore and Claudio (Agrippina) in Santa Fe; Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg) for the Welsh National Opera and Fasolt (Das Rheingold) and Filippo (Don Carlo) for Opera North. In demand on the concert platform he has appeared at the Bregenz, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Salzburg and Three Choirs Festivals and at the BBC Proms. Brindley has appeared on a number of Opera Rara recordings, including Bellini’s Il pirata, Donizetti’s Imelda de’ Lambertazzi and Maria di Rohan, Meyerbeer’s L’Esule di Granata and from the Il Salotto series La Partenza and Rossini Songs.

Albina Shagimuratova

Albina Shagimuratova has been hailed by Opera News as “a phenomenon that must be heard to be believed” and by the New York Times for her “riveting Lucia.” She first came to international attention as the Gold Medal winner at the 2007 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. This was quickly followed by her European opera debut as the Queen of the Night at the Salzburg Festival under the baton of Riccardo Muti. She has come to be regarded as the world’s leading interpreter of this role in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and has sung it at the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), the Teatro alla Scala (available on DVD), the Wiener Staatsoper, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre, the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Hamburg Staatsoper and the Lucerne Festival among others.

She portrayed the legendary soprano Adelina Patti in a new film version of Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina, released in April 2017. In September 2018, Opera Rara released the recording of Rossini’s Semiramide with Albina Shagimuratova in the leading role. Other engagements for the current season include La Traviata at the Wiener Staatsoper, Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Il Paria at the Barbican Center in London as well as Britten’s War Requiem at the Bruknerhaus Linz, the National Center for the Arts in Ottawa, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Gasteig Hall in Munich, the Musikverein Wien.

Recent stage successes include Don Giovanni (Glyndebourne Festival) and La traviata (Houston Grand Opera). Other triumphs include Lucia di Lammermoor (Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bolshoi Theatre, Houston Grand Opera) and Rigoletto (Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera).

She has collaborated with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Hans Graf, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, James Conlon, Sir Andrew Davis, Adam Fischer, Patrick Summers, Peter Schneider, Nicola Luisotti, Laurent Campellone, Maurizio Benini, Giorgio Morandi, Alain Altinoglu and Robin Ticciati. Albina Shagimuratova has also performed with the Houston Symphony, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Danish National Symphony.

Albina Shagimuratova also performed at the G20 Summit at the Constantine Palace in St Petersburg, at the opening of the Summer Universiade in Kazan (Russia), with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in their annual Millennium Park summer concert series, at the Edinburgh International Festival in Britten’s War Requiem and at the BBC Proms in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells conducted by Edward Gardner at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She reopened the Bolshoi Theatre with a new production of Ruslan and Lyudmila by visionary stage director Dmitry Chernyakov which was conducted by Vladimir Jurowski (available on DVD); at that theatre she has also appeared in recital. The President of the Russian Federation awarded her the titles of Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, People’s Artist of Tatarstan, and she was personally awarded the Tukai State Award by President Minnikhanov of Tatarstan.

Albina Shagimuratova won the XXIII Russian national Golden Mask theatre award in the category “Best Opera Actress” for her portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and she has also won prizes at the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition in Spain and the International Glinka Young Opera Singers’ Competition in Chelyabinsk (2005).

Albina Shagimuratova was born in Tashkent (USSR). She began her musical studies as a pianist and attended the Aukhadeyev Music College in Kazan and later the Kazan State University, where she received a degree in vocal and opera performance. She went on to study at the Moscow Conservatoire. Graduating with honours, she completed her doctoral work there in 2007. She is also a proud alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

Roberto Servile

Winner of the “Toti dal Monte” Competition in Treviso in 1984 and the “Opera Company of Philadelphia – Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition” (1985), he started his career with the role of Marcello in La Bohème with Luciano Pavarotti at the Teatro Regio in Torino. He performed the same role in a tour in Peking, Philadelphia and Geneva. In 1986 he sang in Don Carlo at the Salzburg Österfestspiele conducted by Herbert von Karajan. This was followed by an intensive collaboration with prestigious Opera Houses in Italy and abroad. At the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome he sang Don Carlo, Poliuto, Zelmira, Ifigenia in Tauride, La Bohème (with Mirella Freni, conducted by Daniel Oren ) Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Macbeth, Iris/Kyoto, and Maria Stuarda/Lord Cecil. At the Teatro Regio in Torino where he sang Don Carlo, Lucia di Lammermoor I Puritani, Samson et Dalilah, the title role of Evgenij Onegin with Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov. Roberto has taken part in a number of Opera Rara recordings, including two volumes in the Il Salotto series, Mercadante’s Emma d’Antiochia and Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei.

Elisabetta Scano

Born in Calgary, Sardinia, Ms Scano obtained a Music Conservatory diploma specialising in flute under M° Saddi. She began her cantorial studies with her father and later perfected her vocal skills under the guidance of Renata Scotto, Leyla Gencer and Regina Resnick. In 1992 she made her debut in the operatic field, assuming the role of “Adina” in L’Elisir d’Amore at the Verdi Theatre at Sassari and the following year as “Lucia” in Lucia de Lammermoor at the same theatre. Miss Scano has recorded La Bohème (“Musetta”), Rossini Cantatas vol. 2, Le Nozze di Teti e Peleo, and Verdi’s Messa Solenne directed by M° Chailly for Decca Records; Donizetti’s La Romanzesca e l’uomo nero and La Prigione di Edimburgo for Opera Rara; Charpentier’s Te Deum directed by M° Chung for Deutsche Grammophone and Bach’s Cantate with M° Alessandrini for Opus 111; Soliva’s Elena e Malvina and Giulia e Sesto Pompeo with RSI.

Kathryn Rudge

Born in Liverpool, Kathryn completed her studies at the RNCM with Susan Roper in 2011. She was an ENO Young Artist , a YCAT artist (2010 – 2013) and is a BBC New Generation artist (a commitment which will run until December 2017). She has won numerous prizes and awards including MBF Sybil Tutton Award, Susan Chilcott Scholarship. Kathryn is a Samling Scholar. Featured as The Times Rising Star of Classical Music 2012, Kathryn made her debuts to critical acclaim with Cherubino/ENO and Sesto/Opera North. Concert engagements include performances with the RLPO, Philharmonia, Manchester Camerata and with conductors Carl Davis, Paul Daniel, Vasily Petrenko and John Wilson. She has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, the Brighton, City of London and Cheltenham Festivals. Recent and future operatic engagements include Cherubino with Glyndebourne Touring Opera, a return to Opera North for Annio /La Clemenza di Tito and Hermia A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte) for Garsington and Rosina (Barber of Seville) for ENO. Concert engagements include the world premiere of Michael Nyman’s Hillsborough Symphony, concerts with the RLPO to celebrate the orchestra’s 175th anniversary, Mozart Requiem for Raymond Gubbay, Messiah for Huddersfield Choral Society and recordings and concerts with Opera Rara.

Joan Rodgers

Joan Rodgers’ operatic engagements have included the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne in Britain, and international appearances in Paris, Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam and Vienna, and the Metropolitan Opera, New York. She has appeared in Poulenc’s La voix humaine for Opera North and Gianni Schicchi for Covent Garden with Richard Jones and Antonio Pappano. She appears in recital throughout Europe and the US, and in concert with conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Simon Rattle. She is a regular guest at the BBC Proms and was awarded the CBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List. Rodgers has recorded widely, including Mozart’s da Ponte trilogy with Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic, solo discs of Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Wolf, and Rachmaninov songs with Howard Shelley. She can be heard on Opera Rara’s recording of Ambroise Thomas’s La Cour de Célimène and Jean-Baptiste Wekerlin’s La Laitière de Trianon.