A week with British Youth Opera

With Stuart and the other singers! Photo credit: Caroline Taylor

With Stuart and the other singers! Photo credit: Caroline Taylor

At the end of March, I was delighted to join British Youth Opera for their Easter Opera Workshops, which took place over a week at the Southbank University in London. Our workshop group was led by Stuart Barker and Liz Rowe and encompassed students at music colleges across the country, including familiar faces from St Andrews and Glasgow, tenor Laurie Slavin and baritone Tim Edmunson! It was great to chat to everyone about life at college and even better to meet current students at the Royal Northern College of Music, who filled me in on what to expect in Manchester.

The workshops were a fantastic experience. Each morning started with improvisation sessions, various games on aspects of performance (including a brilliant one about status in relation to characters and spaces); in the afternoon, a few singers performed an aria of their choice and we discussed elements of their character, the opera and interesting historical information. In preparation for performing the role, I performed the Governess’ Tower Scene from Britten’s The Turn of the Screw; it was great to have feedback not just from Stuart and Liz but also the other singers, prompting a really interesting discussion.

We also had time to chat about aspects of the singing profession, including audition preparation and self-promotion, which was hugely helpful. Each day was informative and great fun – and I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to friends old and new at the end!

British Youth Opera’s summer productions this year are Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics and Britten’s Owen Wingrave, both of which I’m definitely going to catch in September. Toi toi toi to all those taking part!

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