Simon Bailey

Image by Josef-Stefan Kindler, All rights reserved.
Simon Bailey

Simon Bailey was born in Lincoln and read music at Clare College, Cambridge University. Simon subsequently studied at the La Scala Academy, Milan and won the Concorso Internazionale dell'Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in 1999, the Concorso Vocale Internazionale di Musica Sacra 2004, and was a semi-finalist in the Placido Domingo Operalia competition 2003. In August 2002 he joined the ensemble of Opera Frankfurt as a company principal. Simon's exceptional vocal range has enabled him to perform a rich variety of roles across the bass and baritone repertoire including Figaro Le Nozze di Figaro (La Scala, Rouen and Festival de la Vézere in Limoges), Schaunard La Bohème (La Scala) and Mustafa L'italiana in Algeri (Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro). He sang the title role in Handel's Hercules at the Athens Festival to critical and public acclaim at the Herodes Atticus Odeon, later repeated in Reims cathedral and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and was invited by Luigi Alva to Lima, Peru to debut Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. Further guest engagements for Opéra de Lille, Glyndebourne Festival, La Scala, Milan, Truffaldino Theater an der Wien, Opéra de Lille and Dublin etc. Simon has appeared in recital at the Teatro Britanico, Lima, and also several times in recital at La Scala. Engagements in 2012/2013 included Alfonso Cosi fan tutte, Chabrier L'Étoile, Leporello Don Giovanni, Nick Shadow The Rake's Progress, Figaro Le Nozze di Figaro and title role Bluebeard's Castle with Oper Frankfurt and Gurnemanz Parsifal (in concert) in Bad Homburg and Wiesbaden. Subsequent engagements include Méphistophélès Damnation de Faust for Staatstheater Stuttgart.
George Fr. Handel · JephthaGeorge Fr. Handel · Jephtha
George Frideric Handel:
Complete recording of the English Oratorio HWV 70,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Kirsten Blaise (Soprano), Annelie Sophie Müller (Mezzo-Soprano),
David Allsopp (Altus, Countertenor), Benjamin Hulett (Tenor),
Simon Bailey (Bass), Ensemble il capriccio (Baroque Orchestra),
Maulbronn Chamber Choir.
Conductor: Jürgen Budday.
A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · Double Album · c. 163 Minutes (2h:43m)
2 CD
EUR 33,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterYouTube MusicApple MusicNaxos Music LibraryIdagioTidalAmazon.comiTunesQobuz HDPresto Music HDReview

Almost three hours of superb-sounding music...

This recording is in many ways a real treasure. Its chief value is that it vividly captures a wonderful performance of Handel’s final oratorio, giving the listener a fine impression of the venue, the medieval Maulbronn monastery in southern Germany. The opening notes of the thrillingly dramatic overture grab the listener’s interest and the well-chosen soloists make a vivid impression.
The story involves the military leader, Jephtha (tenor), who is asked by his brother, Zebul (baritone) to lead the Israelites against their oppressors, the Ammonites. Jephtha vows that, if successful, he will sacrifice the first person he sees after the battle. This turns out to be his daughter, Iphis (soprano). His wife, Storgè (mezzo-soprano) and Iphis’s fiancé Hamor (counter-tenor), are suitably horrified, as are the onlooking Israelites. An angel (soprano) transmutes Iphis's sentence to life as a virgin; hallelujahs are sung.
Benjamin Hulett is outstanding as Jephtha who at first is exuberant when facing his military task, then anguished and horrified at the results of his vow. His accompagnato “Deeper, and deeper still” would be worthy of a musical dramatization of King Lear. The other main role is that of Iphis, sung by American soprano Kirsten Blaise; she also must express a wide range of emotions and carries it off extremely well. Simon Bailey is rich-voiced and stalwart as Zebul, and Annelie Sophie Müller as Storgè is blessed with a voice that has a rosy bloom about it. David Allsopp gets off to an uncertain start as Hamor but in the end rises to full worthy participation in his duet with Iphis, plus a quartet and quintet with the other principals.
The 39-member choir and 26-member orchestra provide exactly the right sound for this great work. The orchestra use specially reconstructed period instruments tuned to the historically accurate a=415 Hz. Jürgen Budday’s tempi are well-judged throughout. Some might find the acoustic to be overly resonant, but I find it helps bring to life a performance I wish I had been able to attend. But there are almost three hours of superb-sounding music on just two CDs.
Still the stated aim of K&K is to capture an outstanding performance in which “the performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that is...unique and unrepeatable”. This they have accomplished.

© 2014, Michael Johnson

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