Opera UK to discuss sustainability, diversity and advocacy

21 Jun 2022

Opera UK has announced a series of online events to be held in the first week of July that will facilitate discussion around the future of opera in the country.

The sessions will be focused on three pressing issues: environmental sustainability, greater diversification in leadership and advocacy for opera, and will feature at least 14 expert speakers.

Contributors who have so far signed up include directors of leading companies, performers and those working on the ground in positions including technical production and stage direction.

Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director at English National Opera, Elizabeth Llwellyn, soprano and a trustee of Into Opera and Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive at the Association of British Orchestras, are all scheduled to participate. 

All events will be participatory, allowing attendees to join the discussions and ask questions. 

“Innovation and change is vital to ensure that our sector remains relevant, effectively engages with communities, and benefits our audiences,” said Genevieve Raghu, Artistic Director of Into Opera and one of Opera UK’s Founding Directors. 

“We hope these events will help to connect individuals and companies across the opera sector and instigate even more conversations, positive changes and, through increased collaboration of our members, we hope to see a strengthening of the resilience of the opera sector.”

The discussions will also serve as a platform to launch a new mapping exercise designed to help establish a detailed picture of the national opera industry. 

Festival commissions homeless for operas 

27 Apr 2022

A new year-long festival will encourage artists and audiences to view their cities through the eyes of their homeless residents.

Streetwise Opera will commission nine composers, three choreographers, three designers and a filmmaker to work with more than 200 people who have been homeless for the festival, titled Re:sound. 

Working in London, Nottingham and Manchester, they aim to co-create nine micro-operas to be performed in March 2023.

The charity is partnering with organisations that address homelessness to expand its reach and create connections between artists and participants. Six of the operas will be written and composed in hostels and day centres.

“Staying creative is very important when you are recovering from homelessness, because it lightens your heart and inspires you to achieve more,” said Denise Alison, a participant in weekly workshops run by Streetwise Opera at the Southbank Centre. 

Streetwise’s Artistic Director Martin Constantine said the participating artists have “the ambition to reimagine the boundaries of opera and co-create work that aims to invite audiences, especially those who may think that opera is not for them, to rediscover their cities through a different lens”.

Train station mini-operas celebrate female musicians

22 Feb 2022

Seven mini-operas were performed at St. Pancras International on Tuesday (February 8) to mark International Women's Day.

The works were created by female composers and musicians following an open call by the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Titled Lost and Found, the project aims to improve the visibility of female creatives, as well as offering travellers "a moment of reflection in an unlikely space", the opera house says.

ROH is offering a free livestream of documentary Interrogating the Ballerina and plans to launch its new HerStory tour at Covent Garden later this week.

Glyndebourne invests £25 per tonne of emissions

24 Jan 2022

Glyndebourne will invest £25 per tonne of its direct and energy use emissions into sustainability measures.

The opera house will plant new trees on site, replace all plastic signage and continue converting to LED lighting.

All four new productions scheduled for this year’s Glyndebourne Festival will adopt the Theatre Green Book's baseline principles.

Glyndebourne is also marking 10 years of generating its own power through an on-site wind turbine, which has cut its energy emissions by 83% since 2009. 

“Our priority remains to continue to reduce gross carbon emissions,” Managing Director Sarah Hopwood said.

Orchestra refresh helped 'progress our ambitions', ETO says

08 Dec 2021

Disappointment was "inevitable" when the English Touring Opera (ETO) diversified its orchestra, its management says.

The organisation has offered a belated response to criticism from the Musicians' Union (MU) over its decision to cut 13 of its long-contracted freelance musicians in September.

ETO says open auditions were held for the first time in many years because the orchestra was exclusively made up of people who played on previous seasons or were recommended by them.

"We also felt that this would help us to progress our ambitions in the fields of equality, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace," a statement released on Wednesday (December 8) reads.

44 musicians were auditioned out of 266 applicants and selections were "based solely on those musicians’ capabilities, on the grounds of excellence only".

"With so many high-quality players in the pool it was inevitable that some would be disappointed," ETO said.

It plans to repeat the process next summer: "In advance of that, we plan to consult widely with other performing companies, and relevant industry organisations, including the MU, so that we can provide further reassurance of equal and fair treatment."

My Gurus: Practice pays off

portrait of Hugh Cutting
01 Dec 2021

Countertenor Hugh Cutting, winner of this year’s Kathleen Ferrier award, reflects on the people who have inspired and guided his career … and made him practise.

'A contemporary horror story'

Musicians rehearsing
04 Nov 2021

How do artists engage with people living with dementia? Stephen Higgins, Electra Perivolaris and Nina Swann share their different perspectives on a new project.

Online opera course to take students 'behind the scenes'

03 Nov 2021

A new online initiative for opera lovers from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) aims to shed light on the complex workings of the opera and musical theatre industry.

Opera 360 will include short courses led by RWCMD tutors, offering "behind the scenes" knowledge of working in the industry.

The college is also offering a full Opera 360 Masters degree, which can be applied for through UCAS.

James Lea, course leader of Opera 360, said: “We wanted to offer a course that allows people to see how opera is brought to the stage.

“The myriad formats in which opera is produced, and its ability to reach diverse audiences, are subjects worthy of serious study.”

Opera 360 will launch in September 2022.

Glyndebourne to launch on-demand streaming service

02 Nov 2021

Opera house Glyndebourne is set to launch an on-demand streaming service, Glyndebourne Encore, next month.

The service will offer access to Glyndebourne’s back-catalogue and future filmed productions, alongside additional insights and interviews about a chosen opera each month.

Artistic Director Stephen Langridge says Glyndebourne Encore is a response to audience demand realised after its digital festival, hosted last year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The company says it will continue offering regular, limited-period, free streams alongside the service.

Glyndebourne Encore will launch with 15 filmed titles available from 1 December. An annual subscription will cost £79.99, or £59.99 for Glyndebourne members.

When best intentions backfire?

16 Sep 2021

In trying to diversify its company, English Touring Opera shot itself - and 14 freelancers - in the foot.

Alarm at plans to cut higher education arts funding in half

07 May 2021

A consultation on plans to cut arts education funding by £17m says the subjects are not a "strategic priority" for the Government.

Don’t take your opera audiences for granted

13 Apr 2021

James Clutton says supporters have stood by cultural organisations through the toughest of times. They deserve transparency, care and as much opportunity to engage as possible.

V&A's Theatre and Performance archive 'at risk of becoming a dead collection'

25 Mar 2021

Staff restructuring proposals that threaten the museum department have been condemned as a "devastatingly bad idea".

All I need is a hairbrush microphone

Woman singing into hairbrush
17 Mar 2021

Ruth Pitt reflects on the power of music and the projects that put it at the heart of recovery. 

Orchestral music's popularity grew in lockdown

07 Jan 2021

Movie scores and video game soundtracks are broadening the genre's appeal, attracting a new generation of fans who are more likely to donate.

Singing softly could cut Covid risk

28 Aug 2020

DCMS and the University of Bristol publicised the research findings as proof that 'singing is no riskier than speaking'. That's not quite what the study says.

Outdoor performances given green light for July 11

10 Jul 2020

Indoor performance pilots with the London Symphony Orchestra will shape further reopening plans amid concerns about the safety of singing, brass and wind instruments.

When music is no longer the afterthought

Clod Ensemble - On The High Road performance
27 May 2020

For many years ‘music for theatre’ wasn’t even recognised in the Olivier or Evening Standard awards, but the tide is turning. Paul Clark sees the increasing confidence and ambition of sound and music, even in ‘well-made plays’.

Organisations are paralysed, but the musicians play on

a group of woodwind musicians perofrming in a room
06 May 2020

“It is the art they want, not the buildings”. Jessica Walker says it’s time to rethink the structures that allow arts organisations’ viability to rely on the self-exploitation of musicians and creatives.

The ‘new normal’: will the only artists left be enthusiastic amateurs?

The National Theatre, Munich
30 Apr 2020

Our much-discussed social and mental health relies on having something to live for and cherish during and after this existential shock. So when will someone start treating artists as Essential Workers, asks Julian Reynolds.


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