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.

To read about last year’s production and those from previous years 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

In 2021 BYO will be putting on their 40th Anniversary Gala Concerts – a Course and Performances not to be missed!
We have worked hard to be in the position to offer the exciting opportunity for a face-to-face experience, fully in line with all current Government and DCMS (Dept. of Culture, Media and Sports) Guidance. Weather permitting, singing will be outside for rehearsals until guidance changes. The safety of everyone, students, staff and volunteers, will be at the heart of everything we do – click HERE to see our Covid Risk Assessment – and please don’t hesitate to ask us about anything else that may concern you.
Sadly, due to the current uncertainties, this year there will be no student orchestra, but we hope to return to normality in 2022 with a full Production.

Following a successful online workshop in May and face-to-face Audition Workshop weekend on 3rd/4th July, the main face-to-face Summer Course takes place on the following days at Parklea Primary School in Luton. Final dress rehearsals and 4 performances will be at a wonderful venue – St Andrew’s Church, Kimbolton Road, Bedford, MK40 2PF.

Dates for the Course are:
Weekends 17th/18th and 24th/25th July
Mon – Thurs 16th – 19th August
Sun – Wed 22nd – 25th August
Thurs 26th August – final dress rehearsals
Fri 27th and Sat 28th August – Matinee and Evening performances

All students will work together with our fabulous professional team to rehearse and stage (with costumes) 4 Gala Concerts. These will showcase the amazing talent that BYO students have to offer. We hope to feature numbers from all the operas which have been performed over the last 40 years. There will also be guest appearances from world-renowned alumni!



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.