Dorset Opera Summer School 2022

‘The world’s foremost residential opera summer school’ 

We are running a summer school as normal this year. Deadline for applications: 31st May

Are you an emerging artist or an aspiring opera singer looking to join an opera summer school in the UK?

Would you like to sing in the Dorset Opera Festival chorus 2022?

You can apply to join the Dorset Opera Summer School if you are any age from 16 to 70 though we particularly encourage students aged 18-25. Many participants are from the UK – and many from Dorset – but singers join us from all over the world. You will work alongside world-renowned soloists, directors and conductors and, during the final week of the 17-day course, sing in eight fully-staged performances – four each of two operas, accompanied by a full orchestra.

Where is Dorset Opera Summer School held?

Bryanston School, near Blandford Forum, a market town in the county of Dorset, south-west UK.

Bryanston is one of the top private schools in the UK and prides itself in having the finest state of the art music facilities. It is ideal for our summer school needs, providing not only a large fully-equipped theatre and grounds for our Festival performances but all the rehearsal spaces we could want. Being a residential course, we are allowed full use of the elegant school buildings, boarding houses and facilities (including swimming pool, tennis courts and popular students’ bar) Read more about the venue and take a virtual tour of Bryanston.

What are the 2022 course dates?

14th- 31st July 2022. Choristers will arrive at Bryanston in time for lunch on Thursday 14th July and leave after breakfast on Sunday 31st July.

Who is a typical Opera Summer School student?

A mix of emerging artists and aspiring singers of all ages, though we particularly encourage 18-25 year olds. Those under 18 cannot live on campus and are responsible for finding their own local accommodation and transport. There are around 60 chorus members in total. 

How do I get there?

There is easy access by train from London and around two hours from London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports by road. We can arrange pick-ups from Gillingham station for those coming from London or the airports. You are welcome to bring your own car.

How much does it cost?

We do not charge a course fee but we ask you for a contribution towards the cost of your full board accommodation for 17 days, your costumes and your scores. The contribution required depends on your student status. What we provide for our participants is the most generous gift of any British summer school.  Scroll down for full cost details.

Which operas are you producing this season?

This July the repertoire is Mozart’s Magic Flute and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.. Take a look at our production listings to see the soloists and creatives (currently being updated).

When do choristers start work?

Immediately after lunch on arrival day there is a meet & greet session followed by a stagecraft workshop. There is an enormous amount to do, so the first chorus music call takes place that same evening, after 6pm supper.

What is the daily summer school routine?

Intensive rehearsals start at 10am and continue throughout the day, with breaks for coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. There are further rehearsals after supper until around 10pm – but there is always time at the end of the day to relax and get together in the Bryanston bar.

The chorus joins the directors and production rehearsals from the second full day, moving into the theatre for piano dress rehearsals at the end of the first week. Orchestral runs and dress rehearsals follow – then two opening nights …and performance week!

Is there time to socialise?

There is a lot of socialising. Most days end with a quick drink in the bar or smaller get togethers in the individual boarding houses. During the intense rehearsal period, there are various organised social events including a showcase night which gives an opportunity for members of the company to demonstrate musical, acting and comedy skills.

What else does the course offer?

With more time available, performance week offers different opportunities. In recent years we have run masterclasses in singing, language and pronunciation, wigs & make-up, Alexander Technique and stage fighting. You will have the opportunity to have a solo audition for the Music and Artistic Directors and the production team. We often give small roles to emerging artists.

There are eight performances in total with two on the final Saturday followed by the last-night party. Everyone is utterly exhausted but elated – a superb end to what, for all, has been a hard-working and exhilarating 17 days.

Bryanston School, aerial view
View of inside the Elder Hall at Bryanston School

Course costs 2022

We do not charge a course fee but we ask you for a contribution towards the cost of your full board accommodation for 17 days, your costumes and your scores. What we provide for our participants is, to our knowledge, the most generous gift of any British summer school and represents extraordinary value for money. Many participants return year after year.

Your financial contribution towards the Summer School accommodation 2022 is as follows.

Students up to age 25 in full-time education (incl. gap year):

  • Full board £800
  • Non-resident, but lunch and dinner on campus £450

All other choristers:

  • Full board £1200
  • Non-resident, but lunch and dinner on campus £850

Deadline for applications:  31st May.  

Who are the course leaders?

Chorus Master | Stephen Harris

Choristers are trained and led by the famous Chorus Master, Stephen Harris (Scottish Opera, English National Opera, Kentish Opera, London Symphony Chorus, Brighton Festival Chorus, Nederlandse Reisopera and Welsh National Opera. He has worked on recordings and concerts with Opera Rara. Stephen will tutor you throughout.

Music Director | Jeremy Carnall

Music Director and conductor, Jeremy Carnall is the former Kapellmeister and guest conductor with Oper Leipzig and the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Other important positions include the Nederlande Reisopera, Scottish Opera and the Netherlands Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras. 2022 will be Jeremy’s fifteenth season with Dorset Opera.

Artistic Director | Roderick Kennedy

Everything is under the watchful eye of Artistic Director, Roderick Kennedy. Now retired from an international singing career, Rod has appeared all over the world with over 500 performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Artistic Director Dorset Opera since 2004, Rod brings a wealth of advice and guidance to young singers.