Yesterday lunchtime was the last opportunity to see all the members of the COC Ensemble Studio before the season ends and some of them move on. It’s always interesting to see the Ensemble members as they are growing as singers so fast and, invariably, one hears a new and interesting side of someone that one hadn’t heard before. The programme material ranged from the 16th to the 20th century but it was all Italian and predominantly art song rather than opera. For me, the highlights were Ambur Braid singing a madrigal by Giulio Caccini; I think she’s so much better when she’s being lyrical rather than bravura, and, real eye opener, Rihab Chaieb singing Rossini’s Anzoleta avanti la regata with beautiful control, real feeling and rich, dark mezzo tone. I’ll be seeing Rihab tonight as one of the ugly step sisters in La Cenerentola and Ambur as Amore in Orfeo ed Eurydice next week.