Basically, this is just a page where I will note young talent that has particularly impressed me recently. So far it seems to be only young women! Only from live experiences.
Who: Sarah-Jane Lewis
First seen by me: Barbara Bonney Masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music, April, 2012 (aged 26)
Why: Astounding. In a different category from all the others listed here. In terms of tone, one of the most beautiful voice I have ever heard in live performance. The sound reminds me of Jessye Norman spliced with Te Kanawa. Very good legato also. Not yet the finished article - she's was trained as a mezzo for a while, so the top doesn't come that easily yet, but when it does, she's going straight to the top of the profession. It's also a rather large sound, so I worry that she'll be pushed into heavier repertoire too early (something to be very strongly guarded against), but she should be singing in all the major opera houses within five years, and hopefully as the countess in Figaro (she sang Porgi amor in this masterclass. Bonney had not a single criticism).
Who: Marta Fontanals-Simmons
First seen by me: Anne Sophie von Otter Masterclass January, 2012 (aged 25)
Why: Gave a superb account of Erbarme Dich, rich toned, moving, transfixing. Really coloured the German in imaginative and intelligent ways, and performed in a way that made you forget technique. Someone hire her for a full Matthew Passion!
Update: Saw her sing some Debussy in a masterclass with Dawn Upshaw - confirmed my suspicions - a wonderful timbre in this voice and an excellent technique - heart stopping pianissimos, and a lovely legato. See the Copland Emily Dickinson songs here to see her range.
Update 2: Extraordinarily beautiful recital on 26/02/13 - again effortless pianissimos, perfect messa di voce, characterful singing in a wide range of repertoire, lots of colours, beautiful placement. If she learns to colour the voice with even greater precision, and goes even deeper into the text she'll be truly stellar. She also just announced that she is a 2013 Tillett Trust Young Artist which apparently means a Wigmore appearance - can't wait.
Who: Angharad Lyddon
First seen: Schubert songs, then again at RAM Onegin.
Why: (from the review) Lyddon revealed a truly wondrous voice as Filipyevna, displaying all the hallmarks of a true contralto: ultra rich chest voice, firm middle registers and an eery, shiny intensity in the top (which starts much lower than where mezzos or sopranos start to sound like their top). So unusual and satisfying to find such finished singing in such a low voice so young.
Who: Sophie Junker
First seen by me: GSM Dialogues of the Carmelites March, 2011 (aged 25)
Why: (From my review) "Junker was completely charming as a stage personality and in voice - exactly what you want in a soubrette - I immediately wanted to see her as Susanna, and the voice's purity and shimmering beauty again made me think of Strauss roles - Sophie and Zdenka and maybe Zerbinetta if the coloratura is there (the part of Soeur Constance didn't require any to be on show)". Update: Apparently she can do the coloratura.
Who: Emilie Renard
First seen by me: Opus Opera concert performance of Clemenza di Tito, September 2011 (aged 26)
Why: Just one of the most genuinely gorgeous lyric mezzo voices I've heard in a long time. Sensitive, controlled, lovely. Good coloratura too. Really special: if she sticks with it she's going to be very successful.
UDDATE: Excellent Cherubino - a fine actress. See here.
UPDATE: 09/03/12 She just won the Lies Askonas competition at the RCM. I told you she was good.
UPDATE: 16/08/13 Wins the first prize and the audience prize of the Baroque Opera Pietro Antonio Cesti competition at Innsbruck Early Music Festival.
Who: Ruth Jenkins
First Seen by me: Magic Flute at the Royal Academy of music 12/03/2012
Why: From my review: Ruth Jenkins made a sensational Queen of the Night, fully up to the extraordinary demands of the role's coloratura, with a dramatic power and clarion intensity in the sound that gave the voice a thrilling edge. Strangely, perhaps, the vibrato is more focused and beautiful in the middle voice than the upper voice, but her accuracy and facility are quite extraordinary and I couldn't hear any aspirates. Sensational.
Who: Aoife Miskelly
First Seen by me: Schubertiade evenening at the Royal Academy early 2012, but first impressed at the Magic Flute at the Royal Academy of music 12/03/2012
Why: From my review: Aoife Miskelly was not quite as finished a product as Jenkins, but the potential is huge, and what we did hear was gorgeous. The timbre is absolutely ideal for the role, shining, effortlessly sweet, with a coruscating vibrato that gets more beautiful as it ascends above the stave. Felicity Lott and Barbara Bonney were put in mind, though there is a tightness that crops up occasionally that will need to be excised if she is to ascend to their level. Interpretively she did a lot of nice things too, colouring the voice effectively, managing her phrases very well, and using the language beautifully. Another one to watch.