Just one Brit among five Covent Garden trainees

Just one Brit among five Covent Garden trainees


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2015

The Royal Opera House has announced five additions to the Jette Parker programme, which trains young singers and pays them a salary for two years.

The five are a Russian soprano Vlada Borovko, Irish soprano Jennifer Davis, Australian mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds, Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim and a British bass David Shipley (pictured). They were picked from some 370 applicants from 59 countries.

david shipley

The five join a second-year set of three Australians, a Ukrainian and another Brit. What stands out? Jette Parker does little for the locals.

The ROH is funded by UK taxpayers. We have an election coming up. This is unfortunate.


  • Andrew says:

    No offence, but it’s not a rights based system. It’s a talent based system. So if the locals don’t audition or aren’t up to scratch why should that impact the funding of the ROH. Not to mention John Berry and his business accumen over at ENO which is also UK taxpayer funded.

  • Alexander says:

    The UK represents just under 0.9% of the population of the world, but 20% of ROH Jette Parker Young Artists. You could say that we are over-represented by a factor of more than 20:1. If the Royal Opera House is to continue to enjoy its status as one of the great opera houses of the world it must continue to draw talent from far and wide, based on ability rather than nationality.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Norman, I understand your concern. But the ROH is an “International” house in the opera world; personally I think it is fair enough if the best singers auditioned are the ones who get the places on offer, regardless of their nationality. I don’t think the remit of the ROH young artists scheme is to promote or favour UK talent, rather it is to promote and nurture the young artists with the greatest potential and skills. It is pretty much the same at all the big international houses in Europe. 🙂

  • J says:

    I have to say, as an Australian singer myself, that the opportunities for us here are few and far between. The aussie singers in this program would have had trouble here, we all do. The amount of paid work is offensively minuscule- it is all picked up by the same people year in year out, regardless of whether or not they can actually sing it. For example, an independent company might put on a one off concert performance of Andrea chenier and get the same people singing it, even if the tenor is actually leggiero. Let’s not forget that the same shows are done year in year out too.
    In big Aus companies, they rarely hire locals either. Australian singers are in a bit of pickle- it’s an operatic wasteland.
    If you want to bag out Aussie singers getting a shot at an opera career, first try being an Australian singer in Australia with a sizeable voice.

  • Glenn Amer says:

    some other Australians at Covent Garden included

    Browning Mummery
    Dame Nellie Melba
    Dame Joan Sutherland
    Lauris Elms
    John Brownlee
    Etc etc

    Emily Edmonds (a singer I can’t praise enough) joins distinguished company, and worthily so. Australians at Covent Garden is hardly a new thing!

  • Scott Lawrey says:

    Fascinating that the latest additions didn’t get a mention on slipped disc this year, Norman. Perhaps the fact that the three new music staff were all British didn’t cause enough of a stir?!