What our Alumni have to say about Co-Opera Co.
THOMAS ASHER - Baritone
'By being pushed out of my comfort zone I learnt more about myself and how to make the most of what I have to offer.'
Michele Il Tabarro – Easter Development 2013
Pish Tush The Mikado and Yamadori/High Commissioner Madama Butterfly Main company Tour 2013/14
'The Co-Opera Co. Development Course is, in a word, brilliant. The team are with you every step of the way, supporting, guiding and propelling you forward. It was sometimes scary but always fun. By being pushed out of my comfort zone I learnt more about myself and how to make the most of what I have to offer.
Taking part in the course led to me being offered roles with the company tour during the 2013/14 season. The whole experience was invaluable and to anyone thinking of doing it I say, “Stop thinking, just do it now!” '
JORGE NAVARRO-COLORADO - Tenor
'Is there a better way to learn the profession? I don't think so!'
Tamino The Magic Flute – Main Company Tour 2011 and 2012
'Co-Opera Co. gave me the opportunity to do the “real thing” while I was still training as a singer. I was singing a principal role with an orchestra, under a professional conductor and a professional director, touring to some of the main theatres in the country, with a real audience who always seemed to really enjoy our fully staged shows. My invaluable experience with Co-Opera Co. meant that subsequently going on tour with companies like Scottish Opera or Glyndebourne wasn't scary as I already had the experience, and I was prepared for the challenges of getting on a different stage every night after hours of travel and sleeping in a hotel. Is there a better way to learn the profession? I don't think so!'
LLIO EVANS – Soprano
'I feel extremely privileged to have worked with such incredible people and their expert advice and help is something that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.'
Gretel Hansel and Gretel - Main company Tour 2012/13
Yum Yum The Mikado - Main company Tour 2013/14
'So far I have had the chance to play two wonderful characters in stunning productions and I have survived two tours!
As part of the programme I have received invaluable coaching; it bewilders and humbles me that top opera directors, conductors, and amazing artists are willing to give up their summers to do these productions and work with young singers like myself.
Before we had started rehearsals for Hansel and Gretel, I was star-struck to see our conductor, Stevie Higgins, as one of the coaches on the BBC programme, Maestro at the Opera. Then James Bonas, who directed both Hansel and Gretel and The Mikado, turned to us after the opening night of The Mikado and said "right... I'm off to Glyndebourne tomorrow to direct Hansel and Gretel" – now that is the kind of company that you are in when you become part of Co-Opera Co. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with such incredible people and their expert advice and help is something that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.'
GEORGINA STALBOW – Soprano
'The contract was a good length and it was lovely to have performances in the diary for months down the line'
Moth A Midsummer Night's Dream – Summer Development 2012
Peep Bo The Mikado - Main company Tour 2013/14
'The audition itself was a valuable experience as it was run as a day workshop in which all auditionees had to present themselves and sing in front of the directors of the company, various coaches and directors who were present on the day and all of the other people auditioning! There were also acting and movement workshops. I have always found if extremely difficult to show an audition panel everything that I have to offer in the 5 minutes-or-so that one usually gets, so the Co-Opera audition was refreshing and relieving. It was so nice to have a whole day to express yourself and show what you can do.
The development part of the Summer course was amazing; there were various workshops, presentations and master classes run by people like Stephen Higgins and Stephen Wilder – it was fantastic to have the opportunity to sing for and work with people of this calibre within the opera industry and gave me coaching sessions, repertoire advice, networking opportunities and the opportunity to work with some very fine singers and well established directors. In the following year I was asked back to sing to director James Bonas and conductor John Andrews and was offered the role of Peep-Bo in the main company's touring production of The Mikado, which opened at the amazing Hackney Empire. The whole experience was wonderful, I learned a lot and got to work with the most gorgeous cast of people and a director who you would give your right arm to work with. The contract was a good length and it was lovely to have performances in the diary for months down the line. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Co-Opera Co. experience and can definitely say that I have gained a huge amount from working with the company and everyone attached to it.'
DAVID MILNER-PEARCE – Baritone
' . . . a true taste of touring life and most importantly the opportunity to work with some excellent directors, designers, conductors'
Papageno The Magic Flute – Main Company Tour 2011 and 2012
Don Giovanni Don Giovanni – Main Company Tour 2012
A Night at the Opera - Concerts throughout the UK
'Co-Opera Co. is an invaluable tool for singers at college or post college. It gives invaluable experience in a professional working environment. It has been my pleasure to work on two productions with them as Papageno in Magic Flute and as the Don in Don Giovanni.Co-Opera Co. gives you a true taste of touring life and most importantly the opportunity to work with some excellent directors, designers, conductors and a brilliant pocket sized orchestra, who nonetheless pack quite a punch. It is run by perhaps two of the most talented and selfless people I have ever met Kate Flowers and Paul Need. Not only do they raise all the money to do this for the good of young opera singers and orchestral players but they do so for little in return apart from knowing they are making a difference to the futures of so many. Look after them and they'll look after you by helping you in any way they can – they are always there for us Alumni.'
MARIYA KRYWANIUK – Soprano
'Co-Opera Co has provided me with a foundation upon which I am establishing my career here in the UK'
MimÌ La bohème Summer Development 2009 and Main Company Tour 2010
1st Lady The Magic Flute – Main Company Tour 2011 and 2012
A Night at the Opera - Concerts throughout the UK
'The day after I moved to the UK in 2009, I participated in my first Co-Opera Co. workshop and I immediately knew I was part of something special. In my first weekend, I met and worked with some of the most prestigious British singers, conductors and directors. In addition to valuable one-to-one coachings, I had the opportunity, in a very supportive environment, to be directed in a variety of opera scenes thus giving me invaluable experience practising stagecraft. As all singers know, these are opportunities which are difficult to come by during the gap between finishing conservatory and launching a career. These workshops led me to sing the role of MimÌ in Co-Opera Co.'s first season. That production, which was extremely rewarding in and of itself, also helped me to find a place in the London operatic market by introducing me to new colleagues: singers, conductors, directors, musicians and crew, all of whom were supportive, inspiring, and nurturing. Co-Opera Co has provided me with a foundation upon which I am establishing my career here in the UK.'
LUKE D WILLIAMS - Baritone
'It's a great place to network amongst peers and professionals'
Sid Albert Herring – Summer Development 2009
Demetrius A Midsummer Night's Dream – Summer Development 2012
'The opportunities afforded me by the Co-Opera Co. summer programmes in particular have been invaluable. To prepare and perform ideal repertoire, working with the likes of conductor Nicholas Cleobury and directors Ashley Dean and Peter Watson was fantastic. It's a great place to network amongst peers and professionals. Get involved.'
SANDRA PORTER – Mezzo Soprano
'when it comes to the quality of the performance, corners are not cut'
Katisha The Mikado - Main company Tour 2013/14
As an older singer coming back to opera I, like every other artist, need a platform and the chance to be heard. My working life began as a concert and chamber soloist in Scotland. However, I realised that my longing to be an opera singer had never really diminished and I made up my mind to pursue the path I had originally intended.
However, where Co-Opera Co. differs from the others that set themselves up as youth opera companies, is that it employs older singers in the older roles – it behaves, in effect, like a major opera house and casts age-appropriately. The other essential difference is that it’s also a company that gives every type of artist – conductors, directors, singers, orchestral musicians, stage management, technicians – a chance – at all stages of their careers, mixing inexperience with experience, young and old. Yes the company does set out to give young singers a platform, yes it puts on shows with an incredibly tight budget but, when it comes to the quality of the performance, corners are not cut. The shows play at good theatres; the company’s co-founders Kate Flowers and Paul Need pour their own talents and knowledge of the business into the company, as well as ensuring great publicity and making sure that their performances are attended by casting directors, critics and agents. In short, Co-Opera Co. does exactly what it says in its mission statement – it helps and promotes opera singers in the early stages of their careers by providing them with paid performances in highly professional and innovative productions. For me as an older, more seasoned singer – but one who is relatively new to opera – performing in Co-Opera Co.’s Mikado has been an enormously positive and joyful experience and I am very grateful to have been a part of it.