Welcome to Artistic Futures, a monthly podcast for anyone contemplating a career in the wonderful world of music and opera.

From singers to conductors, directors to composers, you will meet a range of artists who will share their passion and tell you more about their artistic journeys. It will also be full of useful tips and advice for the next generation of performers and creators.

To open the first season, we are delighted to welcome Scottish soprano Marie-Claire Breen. We will also be speaking to mezzo soprano Chrystal E. Williams who is taking on the lead role in Opera North’s Carmen, as well as Director Matthew Eberhardt who will be directing one half of our Bernstein Double Bill, Trouble in Tahiti.

If you have any burning questions for our future guests or would like to suggest artists or creatives you would like to meet, please email education@operanorth.co.uk. You can also tweet us using #ONArtisticFutures.

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Episode 1

In this first episode, soprano Marie-Claire Breen takes us on a trip to Scotland where she grew up and trained as an opera singer. She shares her passion for education and great audition tips too!

Musical excerpt: Aria ‘Come quickly, my beloved’ (Susanna) from The Marriage of Figaro sung by Flur Wyn.

Episode 2

In this second episode, Mezzo-Soprano Chrystal E. Williams tells us about preparing for the lead role of Carmen, shares her passion about making opera more accessible and diverse, and encourages young artists from all backgrounds to follow their own trajectories.

Musical excerpt: Aria ‘Habanera’ from Carmen sung by Chrystal E. Williams and the Chorus of Opera North.

Episode 3

In this third episode, Director Matthew Eberhardt tells us about how he got into directing operas and what this role exactly entails. He shares thoughtful advice with aspiring directors and gives useful audition tips for actors and singers too.

Musical excerpt: ‘Numi, pieta del mio straziato core’ (Amneris) from Aida sung by Alessandra Volpe and the Chorus of Opera North.

Episode 4

In this episode, Sian Edwards tells us about her career as a conductor and some of the advantages and challenges of being a woman in the profession. She shares her favourite operas and tips for young musicians who might be tempted to give conducting a go.

Musical excerpt: Katya Kabanova Act II (Kudryash, Varvara) by Janáček conducted by Sian Edwards


Episode 5

In this episode, Anna Yates explains what the role of designer entails and tells us how she got into Opera through her love for cinema.

Musical excerpt: Der Rosenkavalier Overture by Richard Strauss

Episode 6

In this episode, Themba Mvula recalls how he became an opera singer. He shares his passion for new music and tells us about his experience singing the role of Marullo in the new Opera North production of Rigoletto. Expect really useful audition tips too!

Musical excerpt: ‘La Donna e Nobile’ (Duke of Mantua) from Rigoletto sung by Roman Arndt.

Episode 7

In this episode, Opera North Principal Bassoon Adam MacKenzie tells us how he got into classical music and shares his passion for education. Young instrumentalists interested in pursuing a career will also find plenty of useful tips!

Musical excerpt: ‘Prelude’ (Act 1) from Rigoletto played by the Orchestra of Opera North.

Episode 8

In this episode, Syrian composer and Qanun player Maya Youssef introduces us to her beautiful instrument, shares her musical journey and tells us how she started composing. She also reflects on how music can be a powerful tool to bring about peace and create empathy.

Musical excerpt: Silver Lining composed and performed by Maya Youssef as part of the Walking Home project.

Episode 9

In this episode, Opera North Youth Chorus Master and organist Nicholas Shaw recounts how he started his career as a church musician before finding renewed inspiration working with young people and immersing himself in the world of opera. He shares precious advice for young performers too.

Musical excerpt: ‘In Carmine Doloris’ from the opera Jephte by Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674), reworked by James Batty as part of the Ariadne: A Digital Story project.

Episode 10

In this episode, Opera North Musical Director Garry Walker tells us about the challenges and rewards of being a conductor. He also reflects on the role music plays in society and shares useful tips.

Musical excerpt: Rigoletto ACT II Duet (Rigoletto, Gilda) sung by Eric Greene and Jasmine Habersham.


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