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Nardus Williams in the RCM Opera Studio's production of The Cunning Little Vixen in 2017

All-RCM cast for English National Opera’s El Niño

Thursday 29 October 2020

Six Royal College of Music alumni are the soloists for the English National Opera’s upcoming production of John Adams’ opera-oratorio El Niño. They will perform alongside the ENO Chorus and Orchestra and a children’s choir on 27 and 28 November, to a socially distanced audience.

Conducted by ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins, the six soloists are Nardus Williams, Jennifer Johnston, James Rutherford, Jake Arditti, Tom Scott-Cowell and Feargal Mostyn-Williams, all of whom studied at the Royal College of Music.

British soprano Nardus Williams studied with Dinah Harris as a Kiri Te Kanawa Scholar, supported by the Victoria Robey Scholarship. Nardus is an English National Opera Harewood Artist, was a member of the Houston Opera Studio and is a former Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne. Recent highlights include Micaëla (Carmen) at English National Opera, Mimi (La boheme) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) for Houston Grand Opera and the role of Martha in Wake, a new commission for Birmingham Opera Company. 

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston studied with Lillian Watson as a Toeman Winberger Opera Scholar. She is a former BBC New Generation Artist and a founding member of The Prince Consort, with whom she has recorded for Linn Records and appeared in recital at Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw and the Aldeburgh Festival. Jennifer is a prolific concert performer and recording artist, having performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors.

Bass-baritone James Rutherford is renowned for his interpretations of German romantic opera and has performed on some of the world’s greatest opera stages, including Bayreuth Festival, Vienna State Opera and the major houses across Germany. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2002 and has since sung Fritz Kothner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Donner (Das Rheingold) and Count Monterone (Rigoletto) at the Royal Opera House. James also has a prolific concert career, having appeared with the Boston Symphony Opera and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Countertenor Jake Arditti studied with Russell Smythe as an Audrey Sacher Award Holder and Drapers’ de Turckheim Scholar, supported by the Yvonne Wells Award. He made his debut at the age of 11 as Yniold (Pelléas et Mélisande) for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Repertoire includes the title roles in Handel’s Rinaldo, Serse and Riccardo Primo, Nireno (Guilio Cesare) for English National Opera, Narciso (Agrippina) for Opera Vlaanderen, and Emone (Antigone) for Wiener Kammeroper. Jake has performed internationally on the concert platform, including appearances at Wigmore Hall and the Edinburgh Festival.

British countertenor Tom Scott-Cowell studied with Dinah Harris at the RCM for both his undergraduate and master’s degrees. He was supported by a Help Musicians UK Maidment Award, a Help Musicians UK Fleming Award, a Douglas and Hilda Simmons Scholarship, a Pidem Foundation Scholarship and the Josephine Baker Trust. He has performed Polinesso (Ariodante) and Gernando (Faramondo) for the London Handel Festival, L’Humana Fragilitá and Pisandro (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria) and Nireno (Giulio Cesare) for English Touring Opera.

Dramatic countertenor Feargal Mostyn-Williams studied with Russell Smythe as an Yvonne Wells Award Holder. With a background in acrobatics from the National Centre for Circus Arts, Feargal is a specialist in contemporary opera known for theatrical performances, and was the first countertenor to become a Young Artist at the National Opera Studio. He has worked with leading companies including The Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera and Opera Holland Park, and with directors and conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Peter Sellers, Keith Warner and Jeannette Sorrell.

Nick Sears, Head of Vocal & Opera at the RCM, comments: ‘We are very proud to have a full complement of RCM alumni playing the principal roles in the ENO’s forthcoming performances of El Niño by John Adams. We wish them well in this inspirational work at a critical time for the future of classical music across the globe.’

Telling the Biblical story of the Nativity through the lens of the Mother, El Niño uses texts from a variety of sources and languages from across history, including the Wakefield Mystery Plays and poems by Rosario Castellanos, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro, Rubén Darío and Hildegard von Bingen.

Tickets are on sale now from the English National Opera’s website. Find out more about the RCM Opera Studio here.