31 August, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor
Rehearsals for the British Youth Opera’s The Vanishing Bridegroom, set for the Peacock Theatre. PHOTO: ROBERT WORKMAN
OPERA singers of the future are performing over the coming week in British Youth Opera’s 30th season at the Peacock Theatre, in Portugal Street.
Founded in 1987, the BYO has come to be regarded as one of the country’s leading opera training companies for emerging singers, musicians sand technical trainees on the threshold their careers.
Young graduate singers are selected for the annual performances at workshops/auditions during the spring, followed by intensive coaching and rehearsing by experienced professionals.
But it’s not just singing. Participants also get the opportunity to develop their skills as potential répétiteurs, assistant directors, conductors, designers and stage managers.
Orchestral support for BYO’s productions this autumn is being provided by the Southbank Sinfonia, made up of graduate musicians.
First up in the BYO season this Saturday is Judith Weir’s 1990 opera The Vanishing Bridegroom, in three acts, each based on a Scottish folk story.
Weir’s compositional style is polytonal and polyrhythmic, and difficult enough for experienced professional singers.
Indeed, it’s rarely been performed since 1990. So it’s an ambitious choice for BYO to show off the skills of young singers.
Not that Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the BYO’s second opera this autumn, opening next Wednesday, is an easy sing-along.
BYO is returning to Mozart’s great anti-hero as the opera was the company’s first production in 1987.
Productions in recent years have included Britten’s Owen Wingrave, Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics in 2016, Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea and Holst’s Savitri in 2015.