Opera: The audition

Aria: Candidate 3



Synopsis of the Imagined Opera

Audition is a one act opera within an opera. An important arts organisation has put out a call for a transgender opera; four members of this organisation, none of them trans, prepare to audition four candidates. Candidate 1 presents an extract from her opera about a historical LGBT protest: the panel feel she’s too political. Candidate 2 is actually a duo; they sing a duet from their opera, a light-hearted trans love story. The panel believe this will bore the audience – it’s too niche. Candidate 3 has auditioned for the organisation before, although the panel doesn’t remember them. They sing their many, varied ideas for new pieces of work, their ways of understanding their relationship with music and with their own voice. The panel don’t understand what any of these ideas have to do with being trans – where’s the surgery story? Ultimately, the panel choose Candidate 4, a cis man who will play the role of a trans woman, ‘trapped in the wrong body,’ and ending in death. Audition is a satirical take on the all-too-common experiences shared by many trans creatives in the arts.  



Ella Taylor - Soprano

Ella Taylor is a soprano with a passion for performing contemporary music and works by women and gender non-conforming artists. They were a Young Artist with the National Opera Studio for 2019/20 season, as well as a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, where they gained Distinction in MA Performance, a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital, and the Charles Norman Prize. They currently study with Elizabeth Ritchie.

Ella is a keen collaborator and recitalist, making a dedicated effort to work with and perform works by people underrepresented in classical music.  Recent collaborations include the project After Violence with _REMIX; an exploration of violence and masculinity through a queer lens with drag artist Rhys's Pieces, as well as working with composers and librettists in the creation of new, LGBT+ work. They also have performed at Leeds Lieder as part of the Composer and Poets Forum and with Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round.

Winner of the Lesley Garrett Opera Prize (David Clover Singers Platform), they were also a finalist in the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award with the Southbank Sinfonia, as well as being commended in the Mozart Singing Competition and awarded of BBC Chorister of the Year.

Ella’s time at the Studio was generously supported by Cooper Sinclair, the Sybil Tutton Award from Help Musicians UK, and the Opera Awards Foundation.


Bradley Wood - Repetiteur

New Zealander pianist Bradley Wood has just completed a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Music. As a soloist, he has performed with all of New Zealand’s major orchestras and has taken part in many masterclasses with prominent artists and teachers including Stephen Hough and Vladimir Ashkenazy. In 2015, he was awarded 1st Prize and the Audience Prize in the New Zealand National Concerto Competition. He has performed solo, chamber and song recitals in prestigious venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields and St James’s Piccadilly. In 2018, he was a finalist in the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition, and was invited to perform in their Edinburgh Fringe Festival concert series. Bradley has a passion for collaborating with instrumentalists and singers, and works with both regularly. As a member of the Tasman Duo, he received the Pettman/ROSL Chamber Music Scholarship leading to a concert tour of the United Kingdom. Recently, he was one of only six pianists selected to participate in the Georg Solti Accademia in Venice, where he had the opportunity to be coached on the art of Italian Opera by world renowned répétiteurs and conductors. He is currently Head of Music for the Bloomsbury Opera Company, who have recently had successful performances of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. In September 2019, Bradley performed with two singers in the Wigmore Song/Independent Opera International Song Competition at Wigmore Hall. 


Creative Team

Ellen Sargen - Composer

Ellen Sargen is a composer currently studying for a PhD in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. Ellen runs CoMA Manchester, and is also co-ordinator of Fabric collective, a group set up to explore performative identity and behaviour within collaboration.

Ellen is an associate composer of University of York Music Press. Her music has been performed across the UK, Europe and in Australia. Among others, Ellen has worked with the Ligeti Quartet, Ensemble 360, Psappha, NotaBene Ensemble, Tom Poster’s Kaleidoscope Collective and with soloists including Sarah Watts, Simon Twigge, Jonathan Ayerst, Chris Pidcock and Zi Lan Liao. Ellen’s trio for horn, double bass and piano was commissioned by Music in the Round for their Chamber Festival in 2018 and a new work for soprano, contrabass clarinet and percussion was commissioned for International Women’s Day through Classical Sheffield in 2019.

Ellen completed her Bachelors and Masters at the University of Sheffield, where she received all major awards for composition. Ellen is currently funded by the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.


CN Lester - Librettist

CN Lester is a multi-genre musician and internationally acclaimed author. Their PhD on Barbara Strozzi from the University of Huddersfield combined musical performance and analysis with interdisciplinary historical and musicological research. Musical engagements include Lester’s own arts night at the Barbican, regular appearances on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and operatic performances with Snape Maltings, Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Grimeborn Festival, and the National Theatre.

Lester features regularly in recital and solo shows at art galleries, concert halls, and festivals throughout the UK, and has performed throughout Europe and Australia. They studied composition with Jonathan Cole and Silvina Milstein, and work both as a contemporary classical composer and as an alternative singer-songwriter. As composer, their first opera, The Lion-Faced Man, was premiered at Kings Place as part of Tête à Tête, to a sold-out run. For more information, please visit www.cnlester.com