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This summer, as part of WNO’s FREEDOM Season, our current Youth Opera participants are performing in two of the operas, Dead Man Walking and Brundibár, alongside several Youth Opera alumni.
WNO’s Youth Opera has a reputation for putting on acclaimed productions – even going so far as to be the first youth opera company nominated for a prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Award for Paul Bunyan, which also received a Royal Philharmonic Society award.
The opportunities being involved in Youth Opera gives the participants means that it provides a strong footing in the industry, whether it is providing masterclasses for singers or training in one of the many backstage roles that all theatres rely on. Many participants go on a full talent development journey with WNO: from taking part in our Singing Clubs as children, through to training at a partner college such as Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama or Birmingham Conservatoire, where our mentor schemes mean ongoing opportunities to work closely with WNO.
Various Youth Opera alumni have gone on to careers that include performing with us here at WNO, as well as with other opera companies world-wide and on the West End stage, plus in popular singing groups like Only Men Aloud, which has included several YO alumni over the past 10 years. Our Youth Opera Sweeney Todd, Tim Nelson, was in the group, alongside WNO Youth & Community regular freelancer, Craig Yates. Another Youth Opera lead role alumni, Katy Treharne, who sang Maisy Day, has played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End and also performed with OMA.
Other alumni include David Thaxton, who has also performed in the West End with roles in The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, and has won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical; Natalya Romaniw who, most recently for WNO, sang the lead role of Tatyana in our Autumn 2017 production of Eugene Onegin, but has also represented Wales at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition soon after her time in Youth Opera; Lauren Morris went on to sing Johanna in Sweeney Todd alongside Sir Bryn Terfel at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and covered the same role for WNO’s Autumn 2015 run; Dafydd Weeks was in several Youth Opera productions and has since appeared in WNO’s From the House of the Dead on the main stage in Autumn 2017. Paul Bunyan’s cast also included two participants who have since worked within the wider WNO Company, in the admin departments – illustrating how here at WNO we are happy to nurture talent, whichever direction it takes!
Youth Opera originated at our home in Cardiff, where we run two age groups, 10 – 14 and 14 – 18, as well as a Young Professionals company (ages 16 – 25). But if you live in North Wales or the Birmingham area and are interested, then you’ll be pleased to hear that we also run Youth Opera groups (8 – 14 in Birmingham and both 8 – 14 and 14 – 18 in Llandudno) from our venues in these areas: Venue Cymru in Llandudno and Birmingham Hippodrome.
If you want to catch the next wave of opera and musical stars early in their career, then come and see our Youth Opera alumni in the FREEDOM Season this June. With Tom Smith, Andrew Henley (Christoph Probst, Kommilitonen!) and Oscar Castellino (James Meredith, Kommilitionen!) all in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Then Brundibár by Hans Krása is our Youth Opera performance, featuring both Youth Opera groups (ie ages 10 to 18), with the title role being sung by two alumni: Steffan Lloyd Owen and John Ieuan Jones.