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British Youth Opera

British Youth Opera announces summer season – UK premiere of Enchanted Island and new production of The Rake’s Progress

Wednesday 20 June 2018

British Youth Opera, the only company to provide training to emerging professionals in all areas of opera production, returns to London’s Peacock Theatre for their 2018 summer season. Noted for their creative programming, the 2018 summer season is no exception with the UK premiere of Jeremy Sams’ The Enchanted Island and a new production of one of the 20th century’s greatest operas, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.

The Enchanted Island will be receiving its first production since its premiere and revival at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Devised and written by Jeremy Sams, it is a pasticcio of music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and others ingeniously fused into a narrative that combines elements from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. BYO’s Director of Training and Productions, Stuart Barker, directs the production and conductor Nicholas Kraemer makes his BYO debut.

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress was completed in 1951 to a libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, based on the pictures of William Hogarth. Considered to be one of the greatest operas of the twentieth century, The Rake’s Progress provides wonderfully rich and challenging material for principals and chorus. This will be BYO’s third staging of the opera and this new production will be conducted by BYO’s Music Director, Lionel Friend and will mark the BYO directorial debut of Stephen Unwin.

David Balcombe, BYO’s Executive Director said: “These two works present great training opportunities for our young opera professionals, both on stage and in all creative departments. Alongside ten workshops these productions mean we are able to offer training opportunities to over 200 young singers, artistic trainees and musicians on the cusp of their professional careers.”

Since its founding in 1987, BYO has uniquely provided professional rehearsal and performance opportunities for over 4,000 singers, music staff, orchestral musicians, production trainees and creatives on the threshold of their careers. Now regarded as the country’s foremost training opera company it works to provide the very best professional development through an annual programme of workshops and fully-staged operas. Productions are in partnership with Southbank Sinfonia.

Summer Season productions are rehearsed by directors and conductors with a wealth of experience and with a particular gift for nurturing and developing emerging talent. Participants are coached in all aspects of their craft by leading experts. This chance to learn from experienced professionals is also offered to assistant directors, assistant conductors, assistant designers, repetiteurs, stage management and other production trainees.

Many of the leading professionals in the world of opera received their biggest breaks by working with BYO earning the company its reputation as the place to spot the stars of future opera seasons. Alumni include Lucy Crowe, Edward Gardner, Rosemary Joshua, Katerina Karnéus, Christopher Maltman, Sally Matthews and Nicky Spence.

Edward Gardner, conductor alumnus and Vice-President: “I still think of my time with BYO as the first proper opera production I worked on, and BYO gave me the taste and the appetite for a lifetime of work in opera!”


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