The five singers who will join The Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in September 2014 are Australian soprano Lauren Fagan, Australian baritone Samuel Johnson, British bass James Platt, Australian tenor Samuel Sakker and Ukrainian bass-baritone Yuriy Yurchuk. The audition process for the selection of the Jette Parker Young Artists began last September. 66 artists were selected to sing in the first of three rounds with 25 progressing to the second round involving a one-to-one coaching session with David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Programme, plus a panel audition for John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera, Peter Katona, Director of Casting and David Syrus, Head of Music for The Royal Opera, as well as English counter-tenor Andrew Watts and David Gowland.
A final shortlist of 12 singers auditioned on the main stage in front of a panel comprising Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, Kasper Holten, Director of Opera, Peter Katona, David Syrus, Andrew Watts, David Gowland and Siri Fischer Hansen, Administrator of the Programme.
The five new Young Artists will join the six who continue on the Programme into their second year next Season: sopranos Anush Hovhannisyan and Kiandra Howarth, mezzo-sopranos Nadezhda Karyazina and Rachel Kelly, tenor Luis Gomes and stage director Greg Eldridge. Auditions for music staff positions for the 2014 intake will be held at the end of January, as Michele Gamba and Paul Wingfield complete the Programme in July 2014 and there is currently a vacancy for either a ballet pianist or a ballet conductor.
The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme supports the artistic development of young professional singers, conductors, directors and répétiteurs. The Young Artists are an international group of outstanding professionals at the start of their careers who have undertaken formal training and have already worked with professional companies. They are not students, but contracted, salaried employees of the Royal Opera House, who work for the company full-time over two years.
The Young Artists work on productions for The Royal Opera, singing small roles, covering larger roles or joining the music or directing staff.