Developing singing skills and underpinning technique, exploring one or two roles in depth, being exposed to unfamiliar works and art songs, tackling contemporary music and stagecraft are all at the core of what we offer. We are conscious that the opera world demands more of its performers than ever before, so we take into account all kinds of new productions from the main stages of the world to experimental work in studios and unexpected venues which inform us about what skills are needed for the most talented people to succeed.

We expect a high level of input from our Young Artists, who are responsible for choosing their own song recital programmes, their core roles and who input into other repertoire they prepare throughout the year. This expectation demands a self-knowledge, and a critical and creative, rather than a passive mentality to themselves and their work.

At the core of this programme, and highly attractive to any young professional, are our three residencies with our partner companies.  For example, in 2017/18 we visited and worked with the staff teams – including their world-class orchestras - of Opera North in Leeds, Scottish Opera in Glasgow and Welsh National Opera in Cardiff. These residencies are directed and conducted by experienced international professionals who are chosen for their ability to teach as well as produce an inspiring programme. In recent years directors have included Christopher Alden, Max Hoehn, Giles Havergal and Emma Jenkins, with conductors David Bates, Stuart Stratford and Garry Walker.

Contemporary work forms an important part of our programme and we are committed to preparing artists for this varied and often demanding work. Each year we invite a renowned director to produce a set of contemporary opera scenes. In recent years we have worked with David Pountney CBE, Graham Vick CBE and Keith Warner.

We assist our young artists with the key matter of how to prepare for an audition, how to cope with a packed diary and how to balance learning new music while rehearsing a role with a highly experienced and demanding director. We focus strongly on key language skills in Italian, German, French and of course English; we are fortunate to work with some of the very best language coaches. Where needed, we also provide help with Russian and Czech.

My time at the NOS proved to be an invaluable springboard into the profession. I made real friends for life during my time there and my eyes glint when I see one of my fellow alumnus on a prospective opera schedule knowing what we‘ve been through together. Working directly with pillars of the opera business through the NOS helped equip me for what was to come with the bespoke attention, care, critique and guidance now synonymous with the National Opera Studio experience. I’m very grateful for all they offered me.

Nicky Spence
NOS Alumnus (2009/10)

A unique element of the offer is our intensive resilience programme. Sportsmen and women have long benefitted from psychological support. There is no doubt that they experience doubt, lapses in concentration and have to find ways to focus their energy. We believe that it is just the same for singers and repetiteurs. Focussing on the job in hand, agreeing to control uncertainty and giving self-credit for achievement and success has become a one long thread through the nine months of our young artists’ work. 

Our talented repetiteurs take part on the majority of the skills development that are provided for singers. Additionally, there are sessions designed to develop both skills and tenacity to both coach singers and play for extended periods in rehearsals.  We also help with an introduction to conducting, and our relationships with our partner companies enable us to offer the opportunity to sit in on sitzproben and orchestral rehearsals, as well as give répétiteurs exposure to the companies' music staff.

We support the challenges the young artists experience in the areas of maintaining a healthy mind, body and voice as well as how to manage both an agent and, crucially, professional finances - income and expenditure.

The National Opera Studio welcomes young artists from all backgrounds and from all nations. The wider the experience, awareness of life skills of an individual the better for the interaction of the group.  Today the opera profession is much more than the ability to sing and play. It demands hungry and enquiring young minds and creative people who want to question and explore ideas as an ensemble while having the paramount skill of singing or playing to perfection. 

There are no fees to pay for any Young Artist on the programme, but London is a very expensive city.  While we can sometimes help with living expenses, our resources are limited and we expect a proactive and collaborative approach to finding necessary resources, through competitions, awards and individual efforts.

The National Opera Studio is a special place. Ours is an action-packed nine-months that aims to challenge, excite, develop and make ready a group of exceptional singers and repetiteurs.


Header image: © 2019 / NOS at Opera North. Photograph by Malcolm Johnson