New signings: Male soprano, real contralto, quirky pianist

New signings: Male soprano, real contralto, quirky pianist


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2020

HarrisonParrott is launching male soprano  Samuel Mariño.

AskonasHolt has found a genuine British contralto, Jess Dandy, and a French saxophonist, Valentine Michaud.

And AH have lost pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who has joined Munich start-up Felsner Artists.


  • Robert King says:

    Terrific to hear that Jess Dandy has joined Askonas. She’s a great talent and has a very special voice – a genuine contralto.

  • Margaret says:

    AskonasHolt haven’t “found” anyone in Jess Dandy, a singer who is not only dedicated, talented and imaginative, but a hard worker too, agent or no agent. Remember her ‘SongPath’ series and appearances with the new Hampstead Collective. She also won the 2017 LBS Bach Singers Prize and has since worked with leading conductors like Sir John Eliot Gardiner John Butt and William Christie.

    • Christopher says:

      Margaret, have you considered what the outcome might be if teamed with a dedicated, talented, imaginative, and hardworking agent?

    • Robert King says:

      With respect, Margaret (might that be Steinitz?), Askonas have now recognised that talent, and all of us who know Jess’s voice and talent can celebrate that decision as it will be good for her – we can see that one of Askona’s most experienced managers will be overseeing Jess’ career. That’s really good too.

      Singers, outstanding, good, or occasionally rather mediocre (definitely not so in this case) win all sorts of competitions. There are so many competitions that it’s hard to keep up with them all: in any case, you never know what the field was like, so it’s hard to judge if so and so winning X prize at Y competition means something or not. Mediocre singers have won good competitions, and (frequently) good singers have failed to win mediocre competitions.

      After that triumph, the singer can be as hard-working and committed as you like, but if a manager with similar energy and commitment and – most important – those vital connections and the long-earned trust of international orchestras, conductors, ensembles, opera houses and the c.3000 places in which you might end up working if you are a good singer doesn’t team up and invest a lot of time, commitment and energy too, how ever good that singer may be, he or she may struggle to get the dates that matter. In this case it’s Askonas who will invest that time and energy, and that’s something to celebrate.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Marino is a truly great voice.

    Here are some spectacular fireworks:

    About a debut CD:

    A super-gifted singer.

  • Papageno says:

    To my ears Jess Dandy sounds more like Ewa Podles than Kathleen Ferrier. Still nice. Hope she keeps it low throughout her career.

    • papageno says:

      I should also add that Dandy’s style is more conventionally dramatic/operatic, where as Ferrier’s was more spiritual/lieder. I prefer Ferrier.

      • Maria says:

        You didn’t have to do opera in those days of Kathleen Ferrier to be a recognised star singer and earn a fine living as you could do concert work. It was in abundance. Neither were there so many countertenor to compete with.
        But today so many altos are trained up to mezzos so they can work in opera, be it as a soloist or a chorus member, with so little concert work. Not many female alto parts in mainstream opera.

  • Sharon says:

    I agree it is Marino has a great voice but I have never heard before of an adult male soprano. I wonder if he takes hormones and whether, like the castrati of old, he was pushed into taking them by parents or teachers who wanted to preserve the great voice he probably had as a kid. To appear in an opera he would have to dress in drag but I guess that women have had pants roles for years.