Oct 31, Nov 1 & 2, 2016

In Association with


Monday 24 October: Pre-Workshop visit to a performance at ROH

The group, excluding Observers, will attend a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose directed by Barrie Kosky at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Observers.

We hope to have a talk from a senior member of ROH staff before the performance.

Barrie Kosky
Barrie Kosky

DAY 1, Monday Oct 31   9.45 – 13.30

Coffee will be served on arrival and tea/coffee during morning and afternoon breaks.

10.00 Opening Session   

Sam Brown, workshop leader, and Piers Haggard, SDUK CEO, introduce the course and lead a discussion of the production of ‘The Nose’ at ROH visited on October 24th.

11.00 What is Opera?   

Conductor Tim Burke and Sam Brown give a brief illustrated history of the art form, with examples performed by 2 singers and images of key opera productions.

13.30 Lunch  

14.30 – 16.00 The Director in Opera   

What does the reviewer look for in opera direction?  Critic Anna Picard, opera writer Gary Kahn and Editor of Opera Magazine, John Allison, discuss the role of the director in opera from the outside point of view.

16.15 – 18.00   The Director and the Conductor

For directors coming to opera from the theatre the relationship with the conductor is the most unfamiliar of all. Director Elijah Moshinsky and conductor Stephen Barlow discuss this key collaboration and their respective spheres of influence.

18.15   A Director in Conversation   

John Copley, CBE, talks about his long and distinguished career in opera.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
Stephen Barlow
Stephen Barlow
Elijah Moshinsky
Elijah Moshinsky

DAY 2, Tuesday Nov 1, 9.45 – 19.30

10.00 – 11.45   The Director’s Contribution

What is the essence of opera direction? How is it different from the theatre? Annabel Arden, a director well established in both genres, explores rehearsal practice and shares her experiences.

12.00   The Director and the Designer in Opera

Presentation by a Designer (tbc) on designing for opera.

13.00 Lunch 

14.00 – 18.00  Directing the Singer.   First Closed Practical Sessions    (No observers)

The participants will divide into two groups so that each has the opportunity to stage a short scene with a solo professional singer and accompanist.  20m sessions each, plus a 5 minute review by Mentors: Annabel Arden and another (tbc).

18.15 – 19.30 Women in Opera

A panel of women opera directors at varying stages of their careers discuss the challenges of working in this international art-form and the opportunities available. Orpha Phelan, Polly Graham and Rodula Gaitanou, and chaired by Emily Gottlieb, Chief Executive of National Opera Studio.

Annabel Arden
Annabel Arden
John Copley
John Copley

DAY 3, Wednesday Nov 2, 9.45 – 20.00

10.00 – 11.45.  The Director and The Chorus

One of the major challenges of directing opera is working with a chorus of up to eighty people, plus frequently a children and animals too. Martin Duncan shares his horror stories – and triumphs – with Sam Brown.

12.00 – 13.00  The Nuts and Bolts of Opera Rehearsal and Planning

Vastly experienced Staff Director Ian Rutherford, leads a jargon-busting seminar on preparation, planning, working with stage management and assistant directors, scheduling rehearsals, marking up scores, etc. The possible pitfalls, and how to avoid them.

13.00-14.00  Lunch (observers depart)

14.00 – 18.00 Directing the Singer.  Second Closed Practical Sessions    (no observers)

This time the 2 groups of participants work on a duet, with 2 professional singers and an accompanist.  20m sessions each, plus review. Mentors: John Copley and Annabel Arden.

18.15 – 19.30  The Director and the Industry (no observers)

A concluding session on the landscape of British and international opera from the director’s point of view: opera management, co-productions, career opportunities, fees, rights, etc

Piers Haggard chairs an experienced and distinguished panel that includes Nicholas Payne (Chief Executive of Opera Europa), Tracey Elliston (top opera Agent), James Clutton (Director of Opera, Opera Holland Park), James Conway (General Director, English Touring Opera), and Alex Reedijk (General Director, Scottish Opera).

Ian Rutherford
Ian Rutherford
James Clutton
James Clutton
Martin Duncan
Martin Duncan