It seemed slightly off to comment on individual singers while they were still competing, so I refrained. But now that it's all over I'd like to spotlight some of the performances I thought were particularly excellent. The following are the items I circled in my programme as worthy of special mention. I haven't always remembered enough for any further comment, but you can just take as read that I loved and applauded wildly for each of these performances.
Amanda Barclay, 'Vieni omai, deh, vieni, o morte' (Cesti). In fact I've also circled Amanda's performances of Ross Harris' song 'Swans' and the Spanish folk song 'No quiero lasarme'. All three were lovely, lovely performances. The voice is still developing, but it's a naturally beautiful instrument already; more importantly though, there's a sweetness and sincerity to every performance Amanda gives which makes her a joy to watch and listen to. In several patchy classes, Amanda's songs were oases of serenity.
Matt Landreth, 'My love is like a red red rose'; 'I remember' from Sings Harry (Lilburn).
Nadia Ahmad Zaharan, 'Sun'ram'. A traditional Malaysian song which Nadia sang and danced to perfection in one of the most beautiful moments of the competitions, and for which she won first place in the National Song class. She sang it again at the end of the aria final on Sunday night but sadly her performance was rather badly affected by nerves; I only wish everyone there could have seen it on Friday morning - it was an utter delight.
Michael Gray, 'Honour and Arms' (Handel). This is still going through my head! An absolutely stunning performance, dramatically and beautifully sung, and I can still hear Michael's fabulously secure low notes ringing in my ears. As far as I'm concerned he won the oratorio class, even if Peter Hind gave him second place. It can take rather a lot for a soprano devotee such as myself to get really excited about a male voice, but whatever it is, Michael's got it. Brilliant.
Fiona Henry, 'Queen of Heaven' (Dunhill.) Just incredible.
Hayley Carrick, 'On my own' from Les Misérables. Powerful, persuasive and musical too. I was determined this should win the Music Theatre award - in the end she was placed third.
Stephen Chambers. 'I lov'd fair Celia' (Purcell).
Claire Barton. I might as well just list everything Claire sang. And then add to that list my own imagination of the things she would have sung in the classes she withdrew from. I'm just a moonstruck fan these days. 'Bali H'ai' was a dream. 'Or la trombe in suon festante' was just the nicest surprise, 'Someone is sending me flowers' fabulousness itself. But perhaps my favourite of all, if I can choose one, was her incredible 'Gretchen am Spinnrade', which just about killed me. I'm just crazy about this voice, and getting crazier with every performance I see.
Right, that's it, I've finished now. Bravi tutti!