Youth Opera



Bedfordshire Youth Opera (BYO) is something very special – even if you think you don’t like Opera (or you’re not interested) then THINK AGAIN – you won’t believe it until you see it in action.
It is unique in the UK, providing one of very few opportunities for young people aged 14 -26 to experience opera. BYO has been running successfully and nurturing talent since 1981. It was funded by the local authority until they withdrew support in 2010, and since then has been managed by The Bedfordshire Music Trust which receives no government funding. Each year the group of young singers and orchestral players work with a professional team during a Summer Course, culminating in 5 fully staged performances. Productions involve 40 – 50 singers and orchestral players, a small team of professionals and a large team of volunteers. It is a life-changing experience and now attracts students from both the local area and all over the country. Past performances have included The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Carmen, The Pirates of Penzance, Candide and The Tales of Hoffman to name but a few.

BYO has been an inspiration to singers and audiences alike. It has been the launchpad for the careers of many professional musicians and internationally acclaimed artists who started singing as teenagers here. These include Rachel Nicholls, Carolyn Sampson, Simon Bailey, Tyler Clark, Kitty Whately, Donna Lennard and Andrea Tweedale. We are always indebted to those who come back to coach the present students, generously giving their time for free. Many past members have also gone on to become professional producers and directors, using the skills they developed here to nurture other young talents. So this project provides an excellent platform for young people to develop new skills and an appreciation of opera that will be especially important for those furthering their careers in the arts.

We were very excited that after 18 months with very little or no live music taking place anywhere, the BYO 2021 Course was able to take place in Summer 2021 and it was a fabulous success! Since it was BYO’s 40th Anniversary, together with uncertainties of Covid, as an alternative to the usual single Opera Production with 5 performances, we chose to rehearse and perform four celebration Gala Concerts at St. Andrew’s Church in Bedford in late August, which was a magical venue for this. The Concerts were fully staged and costumed, showcasing the amazing talent that BYO students have to offer.

To read more about recent productions please go to our News page.

Standard: For soprano, alto, tenor or bass singers age 14-26 with some experience of singing plus the ability to read music.

Artistic Director: Fred Broom

Musical Director: Richard Sisson

Vacancies: All singers welcome, but particularly tenors and basses If you would like to book a place on a course which is running imminently, please visit our book a course page.

If you have any queries or would like to be kept up to date with news relating to this course, please drop us an email – we will respond to you as soon as we can, and we will add you to our general mailing list.