Opera Festival Scotland, a new music festival taking place in Dundee, has revealed the four finalists who will take part in its Young Artists Singing Competition.
The competition is aimed at young singers at the beginning of their musical career. Applications for the competition took place in 2021, with finalists chosen by a panel of experts over summer. The four finalists are Dublin-born soprano Susie Gibbons, Colombian soprano Julieth Lozano Rolong, London-born tenor Ted Black and Colombian baritone Jacobo Ochoa.
Gibbons recently graduated with distinction from the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, with a Master of Performance as a Sussex Scholar. She recently made her debut with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah (1742) and performed the role of Dido in TU Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama’s 2021 production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689) at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre. In 2019 she sang the title role in Balfe’s The Sleeping Queen at Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Co Waterford and the Mananan International Festival on the Isle of Man.
This year Gibbons will be joining English National Opera’s (ENO) Chorus for a new production of Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2000) in April, part of ENO’s summer season. She is also an Alvarez Young Artist with Garsington Opera for the Buckinghamshire-based festival’s summer season, performing in the chorus for Cosí fan tutte (Women are Like That, Mozart, 1790) and Rusalka (Dvořák, 1901).
Rolong has a Master in Vocal Performance and Artist Diploma in Opera from RCM. Her roles include Vixen in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), a new production for the 2021 Longborough Festival Opera. She also performed Susanna in RCM’s acclaimed 2018 version of Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart, 1786) and Norina in Random Opera’s Don Pasquale (Donizetti, 1843), performed in 2021 at Glyndebourne. In December 2021, she performed with the Welsh National Opera (WNO) in the world premiere of Emirati composer Mohammed Fairouz’s Al Wasl at the rescheduled Expo 2020 Dubai.
Forthcoming engagements include the role of Waldvogal in Longborough Festival Opera’s new production of Siegfried (Wagner, 1876), set to take place in May and June 2022. She also has upcoming contracts with WNO, ENO and The Grand Theatre of Geneva.
Black is a current member of the Royal College of Music International Opera Studio. He made his international debut in 2021 at Opera Wrocław. He sang two roles at the Polish opera house: Ferrando in Così fan tutte and Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787). Further parts include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, Mozart, 1791), Gonzalve in Ravel’s L’heure Espagnole (Spanish Time, 1911) and Cecco in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna (The World on the Moon, 1777), all at the RCM. In 2021, he performed a fully staged production of Vaughan Williams’s song-cycle On Wenlock Edge (1909) at Waterperry Opera Festival in Oxfordshire.
Black’s future plans include a return to Wrocław to reprise his roles in Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, Lysander (cover) in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Scottish Opera and Clockmaker (cover) in Tom Coult and Alice Birch’s new opera Violet with Music Theatre Wales.
Ochoa graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a First Class Honours degree. He made his debut at the Festival Verdi in Parma in 2020, where he performed in the concert version of Verdi’s Macbeth (1847), conducted by Roberto Abbado. He has also sung the role of Masetto in Cheshire-based company Clonter Opera’s 2019 production of Don Giovanni and appeared with British Youth Opera, playing Caliban in the London-based company’s 2018 European premiere of Jeremy Sams’s The Enchanted Island (2011).
He is a winner of the Colombian National Singing competition, where he was also awarded a scholarship to study in Barcelona for one year. He then went on to take second prize at the Logroño international singing competition in Spain.
Part of Opera Festival Scotland, the competition final will take place at Caird Hall in Dundee on 25 September 2022. This new arts event has been described as Scotland’s first opera festival; it was originally scheduled to take place in 2021, but had to be postponed to September 2022 due to Covid-19 restrictions. See Opera Festival Scotland’s website for further details.
Sopranos Susie Gibbons and Julieth Lozano Rolong, tenor Ted Black and baritone Jacobo Ochoa are the four finalists in Opera Festival Scotland’s Young Artists Singing Competition.