|Artist Information: Victoria Simmonds (Mezzo Soprano)
Victoria Simmonds studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
In 1999 she sang an acclaimed Rosina for British Youth Opera, and Sesto / La Clemenza di Tito for Glyndebourne Touring Opera. In 2000 Victoria made her English National Opera debut as Nancy T'ang in Adam's Nixon in China , conducted by Paul Daniel and directed by Peter Sellars. She went on to become a company principal singing such roles as Cherubino / Figaro , Mercedes / Carmen , 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 . In 2005 Victoria sang the title role in Carmen in the Royal Albert Hall and in the spring of 2005 she made her debut at the Netherlands Opera singing Lucienne / Die Tote Stadt (Korngold). She sang the title role in La Perichole and Ines / Maria Padilla , both for Buxton Festival, Isolier / Le Comte Ory for Garsington, Meg Page / Falstaff for Grange Park and Olga / Eugene Onegin for Opera Holland Park . She sang Wellgunde / Das Rheingold for Aix en Provence/Salzburg in 2006/7 with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Recently, a recording by Chandos of Janacek's Katya Kabanova was released, on which Victoria sang the role of Varvara . In 2009 she recorded Cefisa / Ermione by Rossini for Opera Rara.
Concert engagements have included performances with the Philharmonia, the Hallé, London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis at the BBC Proms as well as performances at the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals. Victoria made her Concertgebouw début in Le Comte Ory and returned in 2007 to perform the title role in L'Enfant et le Sortilèges .
Recent concert performances include Henze's Voices with the London Sinfonietta in Krakov with David Atherton, Rossini's Le Comte Ory at the Staatstheater Stuttgart and the Opernhaus Halle, a concert performance of La Damnation de Faust and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in Canterbury Cathedral, Haydn Nelson Mass with Leeds Festival Chorus and Idamante / Idomeneo with Buxton Festival. Victoria recently created the title role in Jonathan Dove's highly acclaimed The Adventures of Pinocchio and performed as Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte , both for Opera North.
Future engagements include a revival of Pinocchio with Opera North, Il Turco in Italia ( Zaide ) at Garsington and a recital in Hartlepool Town Hall. She will also perform in the world premiere of a new opera by George Benjamin at the Aix Festival in 2012, with subsequent performances at the Netherlands Opera, Toulouse , The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, the Wiener Festwochen, the Bavarian State Opera Munich and Toulouse .
Recent recordings include Bellini's Il pirata for Opera Rara.
Artist Information: Anna Tilbrook (Piano)
Anna Tilbrook is one of Britain's most exciting young pianists, with a considerable reputation in song recitals and chamber music. She made her debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1999 and has since become a regular performer at major concert halls and festivals.
Anna has collaborated with many leading singers and instrumentalists including James Gilchrist, Lucy Crowe, Sarah Tynan, Willard White, Barbara Bonney, Mark Padmore, Stephan Loges, Ian Bostridge, Janis Kelly, Victoria Simmonds, Christopher Maltman, Christine Rice, Gillian Keith, Nick Daniel, Natalie Clein, Adrian Brendel, Gemma Rosefield, Priya Mitchell and Alexander Sitkovetsy.
With James Gilchrist she has made acclaimed recordings of 20 th -century English song, including Vaughan Williams's On Wenlock Edge with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet (a finalist in 2008 Gramophone Awards) and most recently a disc of Lennox Berkeley Songs for Chandos and Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin for Orchid which received great critical acclaim and was Editors Choice in Gramophone in November 2009. Soon to be released is a disc of Britten and Leighton for Linn. With the Fitzwilliam Quartet she has also performed Shostakovich's chamber music throughout the UK, Mozart Piano Concerto K415 and the Elgar Piano Quintet.
Recent engagements have included recitals at the Three Choirs Festival, LSO St.Lukes', Kings Place, Oxford Lieder Festival, Leicester International Music Festival, Wroclaw Cantans Festival, Poland and the Anima Mundi Festival in Pisa, Italy. In 2006 Anna made her conducting debut at the Buxton Festival directing Telemann's Pimpinone from the harpsichord.
Born in Hertfordshire, Anna studied music at York University and at the Royal Academy of Music with Julius Drake, where she was a major prizewinner and was made an Associate in 2009. She now lives in London.
"Anna Tilbrook is an outstanding accompanist: discreet when necessary, but also able to make the simplest phrase or chordal progression tell without a touch of exaggeration." (BBC Music Magazine).
"Superb" (Michael Kennedy, Sunday Telegraph). "Anna Tilbrook is excellent" (John Steane, Gramophone).
Each performer is next to faultless; the vocals are a pleasure to hear and the movement executed with equal precision. Elizabeth Atherton (Fiordiligi) and Victoria Simmonds (Dorabella) play their melodramatic roles particularly well, bringing an element of truth to these highly emotionally charged characters. Opera North's Cosi Fan Tutte
Jonathan Dove - The Adventures of Pinocchio
Libretto by Alasdair Middleton based upon the novel of Carlo Collodi
Pinocchio: Victoria Simmonds
Geppetto: Jonathan Summers
The Blue Fairy: Mary Plazas
Cricket/Parrot: Rebecca Bottone
Puppeteer/Ape-Judge/Ringmaster: Graeme Broadbent
Lampwick: Allan Clayton
Cat: Mark Wilde
Fox/Coachman: James Laing
Pigeon/Snail: Carole Wilson
The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North/ Conductor: David Parry
Stage Director Martin Duncan
Set & Costume Desgne r Francis O'Connor
DVD Producer Ferenc van Damme
Opus Arte DVD 1005 D [filmed at Sadlers Wells Theatre February 2008/released January 2009; 213 minutes including extras]
Here is a triumphant family opera with the widest appeal for all ages, a credit to everyone involved. It is Jonathan Dove's 21st opera and experience tells. The musical idiom is accessible, but not simplistic, and apt to cope with the gamut of emotions called for, with great climaxes at key points and for the choral finales of the two Acts.
It is terrific entertainment, a colossal team achievment which might successfully rival perrenial musical blockbusters like The Lion King , who can tell? Victoria Simmonds was the tireless Pinocchio on stage most of the time, supported by a team of quick-changing singers, some of whom took on as many as five roles each. The score, for large orchestra, will reward rehearing, and I look forward to a DVD of The Adventures of Pinocchio for Christmas?