1948

The National School of Opera is founded, led by Joan Cross and housed at Morley College, Westminster Bridge Road.

 

1963

Following an Arts Council grant the National School of Opera is replaced by the London Opera Centre. The London Opera Centre is managed out of the Royal Opera House with rehearsal spaces in the Troxy Cinema, Stepney. At the time, the training programme lasts two years and is available to singers, répétiteurs and stage managers.

 

1976

The Arts Council’s Willatt Report into Opera in the UK recommends that a smaller, more elite training organisation ought to be set up to meet the needs of all of the UK’s major opera companies. The Memorandum and Articles of Association, published on 7th October 1977, reads: ‘The Company is established to provide and carry on schools and training establishments for advanced education by providing instruction in the theory, practice, performance, production, presentation, direction and composition of opera and the musical art in all its forms.’

 

1978

The National Opera Studio is founded. Directed by British bass Michael Langdon, with Martin Isepp as Head of Music, the organisation trains twelve singers and four répétiteurs in its first year, as it does each year to this day.

 

1986

British bass Richard Van Allan succeeds Michael Langdon as Director of the National Opera Studio.

 

1995

Rupert Dussmann succeeds Martin Isepp as Head of Music.

 

2001

Scottish baritone Donald Maxwell succeeds Richard Van Allan as Director of the National Opera Studio.

 

2003

The National Opera Studio moves from Morley College, to Wandsworth in South West London. Here it buys a derelict chapel building, the Memorial Hall. The site of the Memorial Hall began its life in 1573 when it was used for worship by pioneer nonconformists and later by Huguenot refugees. In 1808 the site became a congregational chapel and in 1882 the entire building was replaced by the Memorial Hall that stands today. The building was used as a chapel until the Second World War and after 1945 it had a number of uses including a warehouse and a temporary theatre school. Eventually the building became derelict. In 2003, the National Opera Studio renames the building as The Clore Building and gives it a new purpose by fitting it out with multiple rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, a library, an office and the large Blackburn Hall.

 
2009

Soprano Kathryn Harries succeeds Donald Maxwell as Director of the National Opera Studio.

 

2010

Conductor Mark Shahahan succeeds Rupert Dussman as Head of Music.

 

2015

The new position of Chief Executive, fulfilled by Emily Gottlieb, is created to help steer the organization's future with a forward-thinking vision.

 

2016

The National Opera Studio commissions Graham Devlin CBE to write the report Opera Training for Singers in the UK, which is published and followed by an industry-wide forum to discuss the findings of the report.

 

2017

The National Opera Studio responds to the report by developing a new vision, mission and strategy, with long-term plans to widen the training offer to singers from diverse backgrounds and those in mid-career.

David Sulkin OBE joins the Studio in the new role of Director of Artist Development. Kathryn Harries steps down as Director.

The ground floor spaces of the Clore Building undergo a major refurbishment with the architects Beep Studio and creative construction company Nicholas Alexander. The result is modern, clean, fresh and individual.

 

2018

The National Opera Studio celebrates its 40th anniversary year, launched by a packed event at the House of Lords and followed by a series of 18 concerts involving 57 alumni at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  

 

 

Header image: La bohème from the 1983 Showcase: (Left to Right) Geoffrey Dolton, Paul Hodges, Jeremy Munro, Alice Hyde.  (Unseen) Alma Sheehan, Kim Begley