Mary Bevan in ENO's Marriage of Figaro

The British soprano's curtain call turns into an award ceremony

Mary Bevan in ENO's Marriage of Figaro

Mary Bevan’s curtain call as Susanna in ENO’s The Marriage of Figaro turned into an award ceremony last night as she was presented with the 2014 Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent by its chair Guy Dammann.

The young soprano, who first appeared in Fiona Shaw’s production of Figaro as Barbarina in 2011, has graduated to a role she was born to play: Da Ponte’s funny, feisty force of nature Susanna. Her performance sparked off a comic ensemble chain reaction through the cast, in a night of purest music theatre, where every word of Jeremy Sams’s mischievous libretto rang true.

And what a difference a cast can make: while the symbolism in Fiona Shaw’s revolving stage production (horns, bulls, swords, poles) felt heavy-handed before, with Mary Bevan as a lithe, quick-witted Susanna, Benedict Nelson a cross but likeably ludicrous Count Almaviva and David Stout as a virile, twinkling Figaro there was a pacy new irreverence that both loosened it up and gave it edge.

Bevan, like Nelson and Stout, making her role debut, put her clear, lustrous soprano instinctively at the service of the drama. She was a delicious Yum-Yum in ENO’s latest outing of The Mikado, and convincing as both Zerlina and Barbarina at Garsington Opera in recent years.

Bevan is not the first in her family to win the award: older sister, Sophie, was a recipient in 2012. She was associate artist of Classical Opera, and is currently a Harewood Artist at English National Opera. Before training at the Royal Academy of Music she read Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse and Celtic at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Her next major role will be as Nymph and Music in the Royal Opera’s new production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the Roundhouse in January. 

Other Critics’ Circle Awards for Exceptional Young Talent were given to the pianist Igor Levit and composer Charlotte Bray, while the Award for Outstanding Musician went to George Benjamin.


Photo: ENO/Robbie Jack




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  • Article Type: | Blog |
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