Seize every opportunity: A year in the life of a vocal intern

27 January 2023

Aliyah Wiggins joined Welsh National Opera as a Vocal Intern in January 2022. Since then, she has been involved in a number of successful projects at the Company, including Three Letters and The Refugee Opera project in Birmingham. We spoke to Aliyah about her time at WNO, and  how the internship has helped her forge a career in the arts. 

Aliyah discovered her passion for opera and classical music by mistake, when at 10 years old, her mother booked her a singing lesson, not realising that it was for opera singers. But after the first session, Aliyah fell in love, and chose to pursue the artform further. She chose to join Welsh National Opera’s Internship program as a Vocal Intern in 2022 as she aligned with WNO’s message that opera is for all to enjoy, and she feels passionately about introducing classical music to audiences who would not necessarily find opera by themselves.

Aliyah’s most recent project was the Three Letters project, where she collaborated with activist Mercy Shibemba and Welsh singer-songwriter Eädyth on a brand-new single: ‘I Won’t Hold Back’. The trio collaborated on writing the lyrics and melodies, and Aliyah contributed some vocals to the song. She remarks that it was an incredible experience writing in a group for a project relating to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, and that everyone involved was ecstatic with the outcome of the project. You can listen to the single on SoundCloud.

Outside recording, Aliyah has worked with primary and SEN schools, introducing the students to the world of opera and helping them create and perform their own opera to parents and peers. Throughout this experience she has been working with established practitioners to develop her skills in educating young people, as well as the necessary tasks related to the work.

Aliyah’s history with singing has helped her develop her communication skills, and she says she dreams of being able to share that with young people to help them realise their own passions for singing and classical music. The Vocal Internship has helped Aliyah learn to communicate with people of all ages, and balance different methods to help people discover and pursue their own passion. The Internship has also taught Aliyah valuable skills needed to become a freelance practitioner, including professional communication, accurate planning and provided experience in honing these essential skills.

We finally asked Aliyah what advice she would give to anyone considering applying for a Vocal Internship at Welsh National Opera. She said ‘I would tell them to seize all the opportunities they can, even if they don’t think they will be beneficial to them. Being an intern at WNO has allowed me to obtain so much knowledge about how to assist, lead, plan, evaluate, and deliver a workshop. It’s built my confidence in opera and has introduced me to some many new people and projects in such a short space of time and has been a valuable experience thus far.’