We’re looking forward to presenting a complete concert performance of Bizet’s famous opera Carmen at Harrow Arts Centre on 21 January 2023. This page introduces the outstanding vocal soloists who will be starring in the concert.
London born soprano Charmian Bedford has garnered an international reputation for her work on both the operatic stage and concert platform. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and Trinity Laban. Awards include an Olivier for Opera Up Close’s groundbreaking La Bohéme (Mimi) and a BBC Music Magazine Opera Award for The Aldeburgh Festival’s landmark production and recording of Grimes on the Beach (2nd Niece). Career highlights also include staged Monteverdi operas with The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican, Venice and Bucharest and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with The Australian Chamber Orchestra at Sydney Opera House and Melbourne’s Hamer Hall.
Charmian has appeared with Garsington Opera, Opera North, Mahogany Opera, Diva Opera, Aurora Orchestra and the Dunedin consort and has enjoyed a close relationship with The Academy of Ancient Music for many years. With Richard Egarr at the helm, she has performed Bach on BBC Radio 3, Vivaldi in Paris and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Handel and Purcell at the Foundling Museum and repeat performances of Dido and Aeneas in China, North Africa, Cyprus, Norway and at The Barbican and Wigmore Hall, London. Charmian worked frequently with electronic composer and DJ, Mira Calix, and has debuted songs of hers for Opera North, Streetwise Opera and at Kings Place. She has featured on Calix’s Ada Project, a collaboration with renowned artist Conrad Shawcross. Further premieres include roles in works by John Barber, Hannah Conway, Daniel Thomas Davis, Orlando Gough and Nicola LeFanu.
Baritone James Cleverton has appeared in principal roles at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Salzburg Festival, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Stadttheater St Gallen, Opéra de Rennes, Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera and Garsington Opera.
Recent performances include those in Das Rheingold for the Royal Opera House, Akhnaten, Jack the Ripper the Women of Whitechapel and The Mask of Orpheus for ENO, Alzira for the Buxton International Music Festival, La Traviata for WNO, The Magic Flute for Scottish Opera, Iris for Opera Holland Park and baritone soloist in the Classical Spectaculars at the Royal Albert Hall for Raymond Gubbay. Plans include returns to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and ENO and debuts with both Opera North and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Victoria Simmonds studied at Guildhall School of Music & Drama with David Pollard. Her career began as a Young Artist and then Company Principal at ENO, roles including Cherubino/Figaro, Pitti-Sing/The Mikado, Rosina/The Barber of Seville, Dorabella/Così fan tutte and Zerlina/Don Giovanni. In 2008 she created the title role in Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton’s The Adventures of Pinocchio for Opera North, and this summer she will perform in the world premiere of their latest work, Itch, at Opera Holland Park.
Victoria has sung for major festivals around the world including Grange Park Opera, Garsington Opera, Opera Holland Park, Mostly Mozart Lincoln Centre New York, Buxton, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, Edinburgh, and the BBC Proms, as well as singing the title role in Carmen in the Albert Hall. In 2012 Victoria created the role of Marie/Angel 2 in George Benjamin’s multi award winning Written on Skin, which she went on to tour all over the world.
Recent roles include Minsk Woman/Flight by Jonathan Dove, Angelina/La Cenerentola, Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni, Meg Page/Falstaff, Mother & Witch/Hansel and Gretel, Brangäne/Tristan und Isolde, Marcellina/Figaro and Alma March/Little Women – Adamo.
Don José (tenor)
Born in London, Charne Rochford is gaining a reputation as one of Britain’s most promising Heldentenors. His wide range of roles include Siegmund, Tristan and Tannhäuser, Achilles, Cavaradossi, Bacchus and Siegfried. Recent engagements include Gerontius with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall, an Opera Gala with the CBSO & CBSO Chorus at Symphony Hall and Wagner’s Tristan with the Ealing Symphony Orchestra.
Charne is equally experienced on the concert platform. His extensive concert repertoire includes Britten’s St. Nicolas, Handel’s Messiah, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder, Puccini’s Messe di Gloria, Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and many more. He made his cinematic debut at the Venice Film Festival as Second Officer in The Magic Flute directed by Kenneth Branagh, conducted by James Conlon. In 2014 Charne was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and in 2019 he was appointed Musical Director of St. Ives Choral Society, Cambridgeshire. Current and future engagements include a recital with composer Howard Blake at the Chelsea Arts Club, Don José with the Malaga Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s 8th at the Bridgewater Hall (Wrexham Symphony Orchestra) and Turriddu in Lincoln Cathedral.