11 August 2017


David Sulkin OBE to join the National Opera Studio in new role
The National Opera Studio has announced that David Sulkin OBE will join the National Opera Studio as Director of Artist Development, a key new role for the organisation. 

David joins the National Opera Studio in a new role which will support the Chief Executive in delivering the Studio’s inspiring vision in the approach to its 40th anniversary year. This role will embrace new programmes to develop emerging and mid-career talent, as well as build on the long-standing reputation and excellence of the Studio’s exceptional talent training.

David Sulkin has a long-established record of working in opera and theatre as a director, facilitator, teacher and strategist. His broad career has been rooted in enabling young music practitioners to thrive- from founding English National Opera’s Baylis Programme to shaping programmes at the National Foundation for Youth Music, and leading Help Musicians UK for seven years as its Executive Director.

Announcing the appointment, Chief Executive Emily Gottlieb said: “I am delighted that David Sulkin will be joining the National Opera Studio at this exciting stage in our development as an organisation. I look forward to developing and celebrating the NOS together with him as we approach our 40th anniversary year. David’s broad professional knowledge and expertise, his infectious enthusiasm for and commitment to the future of opera- its artists and makers- makes him an ideal person to help deliver our vision: today’s talent prepared for tomorrow’s opera. I look forward to sharing details of our future plans more widely in due course, and warmly welcome David to the National Opera Studio.”
Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of the NOS, said: “David is an immensely experienced theatre and opera practitioner who has dedicated his whole professional life to helping young people thrive in the world of music. Recognised in the Queen’s Honours List in 2014 for his work in the arts, education and charity, David is the ideal practitioner to work with Emily in taking forward our new vision and to help grow the NOS as a visionary and transformative place for opera training in the UK.”

David Pountney, Artistic Director of Welsh National Opera and Trustee of the NOS said: “As one of the founders of the Baylis Programme at ENO, David Sulkin has been at the heart of music education work for many decades, and he brings an exceptionally creative intelligence and passion to this new role which is so crucial to developing the creativity and technical discipline of the Studio’s wonderful young artists. I whole-heartedly welcome his appointment and look forward to collaborating with him.”

David Sulkin said: “The chance to help shape the future of the National Opera Studio is a wonderful opportunity and a great privilege. I aim to serve this unique organisation and all the artists it supports. I hope to put in place strategies to reach and support upcoming generations of young people, enabling them to fulfil their operatic potential.”

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Notes to Editors
National Opera Studio: now and future
The NOS celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2018. It is unique, being the only studio of its kind to work in partnership with not one but six leading opera companies: English National Opera (ENO), Glyndebourne, Opera North, Royal Opera House (ROH), Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera (WNO). The Studio’s mission, in partnership with these companies, is to play a leadership role in the development of operatic talent for the resilience of the art form, through high-quality training, support and dialogue. Through its partnerships it creates world-class development opportunities for artists of exceptional promise and will become a resource for the sector.
Since the commissioning of a report into opera training in the UK, the Studio is at a pivotal time in its history. Its vision - today’s talent prepared for tomorrow’s opera- will work to the principles of three educational ‘R’s - Reach, Relevance and Resilience - delivering work under four interrelated strands: Develop (Training), Find (Pre-Training), Support (Post-Training) and Lead (Sector Support), with Develop at its core. Alongside its core work of training exceptional talent, the Studio will, over the next few years, be piloting programmes to develop diverse, emerging talent as well as supporting mid-career talent through its holistic, individually-tailored approach.

Being independent, the NOS is not subject to main stage activity and does not cast dependent on productions: it selects young artists purely on merit. The Studio’s independence, the strength of its opera company partnerships and world-class coaching is key to its success. Artists on its programmes undergo intensive, bespoke training that is individually designed around their vocal and developmental needs. The NOS trains 12 singers and 4 répétiteurs each year on its Exceptional Talent Programmes, and through short courses and other programmes it also develops and create diverse pathways for emerging talent.
The 2017/18 Young Artists already have an intensive year mapped out, including residencies with Opera North, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera and the Royal Opera House, and ever-closer collaboration with its other partner companies. A host of international artists will be working with the Young Artists, including Joyce DiDonato, Barbara Hannigan, Marianne Cornetti, Keith Warner, Susan Bullock and many more joining Mark Shanahan, Jeremy Silver and a team of top-class coaches. In addition, many exciting partnership events are planned leading up to the Studio’s 40th anniversary year in 2018, including an 18-concert series at the Victoria and Albert Museum to accompany the exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, in which many of its famous alumni are performing.
David Sulkin OBE
David Sulkin has a long-established record of working in opera and theatre as a director, enabler, lecturer and strategist. He worked at English National Opera in the 1980s and 1990s as a director and created (with Rebecca Meitlis) the Baylis Programme, a ground-breaking initiative which laid the foundations for ‘learning and participation’ in the arts. He commissioned the first community opera, A Small Green Spaceby Ilona Sekacz and Fay Weldon and devised “The Knack”, a programme of key skills development for young singers. The Baylis Programme was also responsible for reaching communities which had had no previous contact with the opera and music world. David devised and directed New Visions New Voices in collaboration with the Royal College of Music and was consultant on the establishment of the Rose Bruford College Distance Learning Degree in Opera Studies. For seven years, David also shaped and taught key elements of the MA Text into Performance degree at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

David was later appointed the Director of Policy and Programmes at the National Foundation for Youth Music. Over eight years, he masterminded the distribution of £85m of National Lottery funds for music-making and singing for young people in the most disadvantaged communities in England and Wales. He designed the government’s national singing initiative which later became Sing Up as well as leading the development of Chicago’s Gallery 37 in the UK which was designed to help NEET young people into education training and employment. Later, David became the Executive Director of Help Musicians UK modernising the 100 year-old charity which supports young artists at the start of their careers as well as musicians and singers who experience a career crisis or need help later in life.

David was Associate Director and now is Advisor and Executive Committee member to the annual festival Janáčkovy Hukvaldy, in Janáček’s village in Northern Moravia. In January 2017, he was given a scholarship by the Finzi Trust to study in Brno, Czech Republic while writing a play based on the life of Leoš Janáček seen through the eyes of his wife Zdenka. He is also working with the soprano, Janis Kelly, on what is to be learned about singing technique from recordings made in the period 1900 - 1925. 

In 2014 David was awarded the OBE in HM The Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his pioneering work in the arts, education and charity.