NWU alumnus at Grammy Awards
Potchefstroom - The South African baritone Jacques Imbrailo, who studied under Prof Werner Nel at the North-West University's Potchefstroom Campus before settling in London, sings the title role in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd, which was nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Opera Recording.
The recording was made last year during the Glynebourne Festival with Sir Mark Elder conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jacques as Billy in James Whitbourn's production. The other soloists are John Mark Ainsley, Phillip Ens, Darren Jeffery, Iain Paterson and Matthew Rose, released on the Opus Arte label.
The competition was exceptionally strong, and John Adams' Doctor Atomic under the baton of Alan Gilbert (Sony Classical), one of the Metropolitan Opera productions which was shown in Cinema Nouveau theatres last year, eventually walked away with the honours.
Apart from Billy Budd and Doctor Atomic, the other nominees were: Rautavaara's Kaivos with the Tampere Philharmonic under the direction of Hannu Lintu (Ondine); Verdi's La traviata with Antonio Pappano conducting the Covent Garden Orchestra and Renée Fleming, Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson in the title roles; and Vivaldi's Ercole su’l Termodonte with an astonishing cast consisting of Rolando Villazón, Patrizia Ciofi, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato and Vivica Genaux, with Fabio Biondi as conductor.
Even though Jacques did not win, it is still an outstanding achievement and he certainly finds himself in very good company. The first Grammy for a complete opera recording was awarded exactly 50 years ago for Puccini's Turandot. The conductor and chief soloists each receives a Grammy; in this case Erich Leinsdorf with the Roman Opera Orchestra and Choir and the soloists Birgit Nilsson, Giorgio Tozzi, Jussi Björling and Renata Tebaldi.
The young baritone, winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music 2009 at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, has been chalking up one achievement after the other ever since.
Last year September he sang Figaro in 18 performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia from Rossini in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. In the press he was described as "fiery and energetic, and confident in everything he does".
In January he sang Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia in the Houston Grand Opera in Texas, made his New York debut with the baritone party in Orff's Carmina burana, and his programme schedule in British and European cities is equally impressive.
Acknowledgment: Thys Odendaal, Beeld