University to encourage next generation of opera singers

Opera Nation, a free new training programme for young people, launches.

Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Opera House have launched Opera Nation, a free programme to develop the next generation of opera singers.

Opera Nation is a free talent pipeline programme for young people aged 14 to 18. The programme seeks to discover the next generation of opera singers through a series of workshops, residential courses and professional support to establish a long-lasting talent development structure in the region. Opera Nation opens with a series of free workshops in December 2019 and January 2020. Any passionate young singer can apply.

Young people aged 14 to 18 can sign up for one of 300 free places (sixty per workshop). There will be sessions in Dudley (14th January, 6pm to 9pm), Worcester (20th January, 6pm to 9pm), Birmingham (22nd January, 6pm to 9pm) and Coventry (21st January, 6pm to 9pm).

The workshops will see professional musicians from the Royal Opera House and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – part of Birmingham City University – nurture the young people’s vocal, musical talents and stagecraft skills. Following the workshops, sixty students will be selected to attend a residential course, before a final thirty are selected to begin a programme that offers up to four years of professional mentoring, training and support.

The new four-year initiative is a joint venture conceived by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Opera House (ROH). Opera Nation is the first programme of its kind in the Midlands and offers aspiring young opera singers a sustained investment into their musical journey and a path into professional training. The RBC and ROH will also work with schools and music services to target talented young people who require mentoring and professional support in order to allow them to pursue careers in music.

Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire commented, “Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Opera House share an ethos of inclusion and widening participation and we’re delighted to be launching this fantastic opportunity to nurture young singers from diverse backgrounds. Opera Nation will make a significant contribution to the musical development of young people across the West Midlands.”

Oliver Mears, Director of Opera, The Royal Opera, added, “We believe that every singer and talented young person should have access to professional training and support, and we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. This free programme is designed to remove barriers to music and vocal training that young people may experience, be they social, geographical or financial.

“Our vision is to reach the widest possible range of talent and crucially support young people in the early stages of their careers. I look forward to seeing the next generation of opera singers emerging from this programme over the coming years.”

Abigail Kelly opera singer and ambassador for Opera Nation commented “By removing barriers to training, initiatives like Opera Nation empower young people and ensure that every young person, regardless of their background, has access to music and a musical education. Having grown up in Birmingham this project is close to my heart and I look forward to working with young people across the region to mentor and support their futures.

“Whether those involved go on to be professional singers or take different career paths, this accessible programme provides a wonderful opportunity for young people from across the West Midlands to work with many talented professionals and offer unrivalled insight into the art form.”

Young people aged 14 to 18 can sign up to a free Opera Nation workshop by visiting