We’re looking forward to presenting a complete concert performance of the magical and well-known opera Hansel and Gretel at Harrow Arts Centre on 2 February 2019. This page introduces the outstanding vocal soloists who will be starring in the concert.

Thalie Knights

Hansel (mezzo-soprano)

French bi-lingual Thalie Knights studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is a 2016 Britten-Pears Young Artist (where she performed Bach Cantatas under the guidance of tenor Mark Padmore). She was a member of English National Opera’s Opera Works programme (2014/15). With ENO she studied Bradamante Alcina, Cornelia Giulio Cesare and subsequently sang Medoro Orlando in the final performance Landscape at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London.

Operatic roles include the title role in Armide (Woodhouse Opera), Phèdre cover Hippolyte et Aricie (Linden Baroque), Second Lady The Magic Flute (Hampstead Garden Opera), Frédéric Mignon and Andreloun Mireille (New Sussex Opera), Mrs Kneebone A Dinner Engagement (Bute Park Opera), Maman L’enfant et les Sortilèges (Bute Park Opera), Dog Cunning Little Vixen, Sorceress Dido and Aeneas.

RWCMD roles in scenes included Annio La Clemenza di Tito, Ursule Béatrice et Bénédict, Madame de la Haltière Cendrillon and Meg The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Concert engagements include Micah Samson, Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, Bach’s Magnificat and Mass in B Minor, and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. She won the oratorio class at the Croydon Music Festival in 2010.

Thalie Knights has attended master classes with Christian Curnyn, Ann Murray, Christophe Rousset, Della Jones, Philip Lloyd-Evans, James Bowman, John Shirely-Quirk and Sophie Daneman and Robert Howarth.


Charmian Bedford

Gretel (soprano)

Charmian-Bedford-(c) Alexander Newton

Charmian Bedford graduated from Clare College, Cambridge in 2005, where she read Classics and Trinity College of Music where she was a finalist in both the Lillian Ash French Song Competition and the Elizabeth Schumann Lieder Prize. She received the Paul Simm Opera Prize two years running for her portrayal of Blanche Les Dialogues des Carmélites and Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress.

Opera includes 2nd Niece Peter Grimes at the Aldeburgh Festival (also recorded live as a feature film Grimes on the Beach), Tytania A Midsummer Night’s Dream for both Opéra de Baugé and Garsington Opera (cover), Rowan Little Sweep for Jubilee Opera in Aldeburgh, Belinda Dido and Aeneas for Silent Opera, Fortuna/Damigella L’Incoronazione di Poppea for the Academy of Ancient Music, Catarina in Nicola LeFanu’s Dream Hunter at Wilton’s Music Hall in London and 1st Attendant in the European premiere of John Harbison’s Full Moon in March at The Warehouse. Recent roles include Echo Ariadne auf Naxos for Opera Project at West Green House, and Hope in John Barber’s To the Silkwood Tree for Streetwise Opera.

As a contemporary performer she frequently collaborates with Mira Calix with whom she has worked for Opera North, Streetwise Opera and the Spitalfields Music Festival. She has worked with Tête à Tête ‘The Opera Festival’ performing four newly-commissioned single act operas, and she has premiered song cycles by Lloyd Moore and Graham Williams and orchestral cycles by Daniel Thomas Davis (also recorded) and Peter Child in Lontano’s 2012 Festival of Contemporary American Music.

Concert performances have included Mahler’s Symphony No 4 (Aurora Orchestra at the Deal Music Festival and the Barbican), Handel’s Israel in Egypt (Monteverdi Choir), Berio’s Laborintus II (Aurora and Mahogany Opera at LSO St Luke’s), Mozart’s Requiem (Maribor Festival in Slovenia with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti), Handel Dixit Dominus (La Nuova Musica).

With the Academy of Ancient Music she has performed 2nd Woman Dido and Aeneas (Wigmore Hall, subsequently touring to North Africa and China), Bach’s Magnificat (BBC Radio 3), Vivaldi Dixit Dominus (St Sulpice, Paris, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and Usher Hall, Edinburgh), Giunone Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (Barbican), Fortuna/Damigella L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Bucharest and Venice), a solo recital of Handel and Purcell at the Foundling Museum and a concert of Bach cantatas live on BBC radio 3 with Pavlo Beznosiuk at Milton Court London and West Road Cambridge.

Plans include the premiere of a new Childrens’ Opera Vehicles by Martyn Harry, and Clorinda La Cenerentola (on tour with Diva Opera).


Jan Capiński

Father (baritone)

Jan Capiński was born in Kraków, Poland, where he began his singing training at the Academy of Music studying with Janusz Borowicz. He received an MA in Opera Performance in 2013, graduating with distinction from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he studied with Adrian Thompson, supported by the Sir Geraint Evens and Leverhulme Scholarships. He went on to train at the ENO Opera Works programme and currently studies with Gary Coward in London. He is a recipient of the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Garsington Opera Simon Sandbach Award, and most recently the ETO Christopher Ball Bursary.

Opera includes Sharpless (Les Heures Musicales d’Aujols), L’Assedio di Calais, Little Ray Dust Child and Major Murgatroyd Patience (English Touring Opera), Moralès Carmen (Mid Wales Opera), Escamillo (St Magnus Festival/Perfect Pitch Opera/Winterbourne Opera), Pluto Orpheus in the Underworld (Scottish Opera/Opera Danube), Eisenstein Die Fledermaus (Opera Up Close) and Count Le Nozze di Figaro and Papageno for Opera’r Ddriag.

In 2015 he performed for Wexford Festival Opera as Sacristan Tosca and L’exempt de guet in Hérold’s Le pré aus clercs. In 2014 he sang Second Prisoner Fidelio for Garsington Festival Opera and Peter Hansel and Gretel at West Green House as part of Garsington’s Young Artist Programme.

Roles at the RWCMD include Smirnov The Bear, Tarquinius The Rape of Lucretia, Count Le Nozze di Figaro and Eisenstein Die Fledermaus.

Concert work includes Bernstein’s Mass (Blues Singer, Street Chorus) at the BBC Proms, Messiah in India with South West Festival Chorus, the baritone solo in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem in Eynsham, and Lieder eines fahrenden Gessellen in Tewkesbury Abbey.


Victoria Simmonds

Mother / The Witch (mezzo-soprano)

Victoria SimmondsVictoria Simmonds studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Pollard.  Her career began as a Young Artist and then Company Principal at ENO, singing roles such as Nancy T’ang/Nixon in China, Cherubino/Figaro, 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.

For Opera North she created the title role in Jonathan Dove’s highly acclaimed The Adventures of Pinocchio.  She has also sung for Grange Park Opera, Garsington Opera, Opera Holland Park and the Buxton Festival and sang the title role of Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall.  Abroad she has sung with the Netherlands Opera, Stuttgart and Halle Opera companies and Wellgunde/Das Rheingold with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle at the Aix Festival.  In concert, she has sung in Le Comte Ory and the title role of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges at the Concertgebouw, and has worked with the Philharmonia, the Hallé, the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals and for the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis at the BBC Proms.

Other operatic engagements include Idamante/Idomeneo for the Buxton Festival, Dorabella/Così for Opera North, Zaida/Il turco in Italia for Garsington Opera, the role of Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther at Les Azuralies Opera Festival as well as a new short opera by Neil Hannon based upon Tolstoy’sSevastopol Sketches for Royal Opera House 2.

Victoria created the role of Marie/Angel 2 in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, which initially toured Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Amsterdam, Toulouse, Paris, Munich, and Vienna.  The ROH performances, DVD and CD have won over 17 awards, including the Sky Arts Award for Opera in 2013. More recent performances include Lisbon, Lincoln Centre New York, a revival at ROH Covent Garden, and the Bolshoi, Moscow in 2017.

Other performances include: Through His Teeth/Luke Bedford for ROH as part of their Faustian Pack, and Fox/Cunning Little Vixen for Garsington. She created the role of Boy in The Way Back Home by Joanna Lee and Rory Mullarkey (after Oliver Jeffers), a piece devised by Katie Mitchell and Vicki Mortimer – ENO’s first commission of a children’s opera.

For Opera Holland Park she has sung the role of Minsk Woman in Stephen Barlow’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Mum/Mad Hatter in Martin Duncan’s production of Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Angelina in La Cenerentola, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, both productions by Oliver Platt.


Eleanor Rashid

The Sandman / The Dew Fairy (soprano)

Eleanor Rashid (Soprano) recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London with a BMus First Class Honours, studying under Caroline Lenton-Ward. At Goldsmiths, Eleanor received 85% for her final recital – one of the highest marks achieved by an undergraduate music student at the university.

Eleanor first performed with OperaGold as a chorus member in Strauss’ ‘Die Fledermaus’, conducted by David Syrus before she went on sing the role of Dido in Purcell’s ‘Dido & Aeneas’ and Suor Genovieffa in Puccini’s ‘Suor Angelica’ conducted by John Andrews.

Other performances at Goldsmiths include various recitals at venues such as Goldsmiths Hall (for Goldsmiths’ annual dinner) and Dulwich College (representing Goldsmiths music) as well as performing as a soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Goldsmiths Sinfonia. As a Soprano soloist, Eleanor has performed at venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and recently made her debut at St-Martins-in-the-Fields with The Minerva Consort as part of the Brandenburg Choral Festival. She also recently made her international debut in Denmark with Il Corpo Cantante singing unusual songs by the late romantic composer, Joseph Marx such as ‘Pan Trauert um Syrinx’.

Eleanor looks forward to featuring in upcoming concerts at Dunblane Cathedral, conducted by Kevin Duggan and at Trinity Harrow, conducted by John Andrews. Aside from her extensive performance as a classical singer in both opera and choral work, Eleanor has made appearances at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO).

She also performs and composes for her contemporary jazz band, Fujiyama. When writing for Fujiyama, Eleanor aims to incorporate the contemporary composition techniques that she learnt under Roger Redgate at Goldsmiths.

During her time at university, Eleanor founded Goldsmiths’ first ever jazz choir whilst working for Nordoff Robbins’ Music therapy charity in order to introduce others to music in new and interesting ways. As a versatile performer, Eleanor believes in the importance being open-minded and making music accessible for all. In 2017, she created her own podcast on Wired Radio called The Magic of Art Songs to introduce people to art music in an anti-elitist way.

As well as performing, Eleanor is currently working as a Trainee Music Leader for Wigmore Hall Learning’s Early Years projects around East London. This has lead her to work as a music practitioner for projects such as NCS, Mama Sings, Creative Futures and The Acorn Project. As well as her practitioner work, Eleanor is the choral director at the Lycée Français in South Kensington for the primary school and works in the Front of House department at The Royal Opera House.