Phase 2: Opera

Dates: Monday 1 – Friday 5 July 2019
Time: all day (likely 10:00 – 18:00) Monday to Friday
Venue: National Opera Studio, Wandsworth, London SW18, with some sessions taking place at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London WC2
Closing date: Thursday 28 March, 9am
Repertoire: TBC - to include both a classical work and contemporary work

Following the success of our first Women Conductors workshop specialising in opera, in partnership with the Royal Opera House and National Opera Studio last September, we are very pleased to be presenting two similar opportunities this summer: one for opera, and one for ballet. The opera course is detailed on this page and you can click this link to visit the page about the ballet course. If you are eligible for both, you can apply for both using one application form, or alternatively specify in your application form which course you would like to be considered for.


As before, the opera course will be a week-long immersive experience intended to give women working as conductors the opportunity to evolve their skills and fluency in the art of conducting opera. This time, we welcome renowned conductor Jessica Cottis – one of last year’s popular guest coaches – alongside RPS Women Conductors founder Alice Farnham, and the National Opera Studio’s Head of Music Mark Shanahan.

The course is for 12 participants. Over the course of the week, you will work on excerpts from both a classical and contemporary opera, sharing ideas on score preparation, how to work effectively with opera singers, and a range of techniques and principles particular to opera including the nuances of conducting recitative, arias and ensemble numbers. There will be group and individual coaching sessions, and movement classes designed to help you make the optimal impression on the opera podium and addressing the physical demands of conducting opera. You will have the chance to conduct singers and an ensemble of professional instrumentalists. While most of the course is based at the well-equipped National Opera Studio, some sessions will take place at the Royal Opera House, giving you the chance to experience the atmosphere backstage, attend a stage-and-orchestra rehearsal, and gain insights from the Royal Opera's Head of Music Richard Hetherington.

Participants must be available for the full week in order to apply. Those granted places will be asked to familiarise themselves with several short excerpts from two select operas prior to attending. As demand for places is expected to be high, we are able to grant some free ‘observer’ places to a small number of exceptional candidates not selected to participate. While this will not involve conducting in sessions yourself, you will still have substantial opportunity to learn from the experts involved and draw insight from the particular activities on the course. You need not be based in the UK but would need to make your own arrangements to get to London and stay for the week, including any visa or similar travel documents this may require, at your own expense. As the course will be run in English, you should be fluent in it.

"This experience has completely transformed my music-making. The lessons I have learned in this course will stay with me throughout my career and life, both in music and beyond."
2018 Participant


This opportunity is strictly for women who are already working conductors, aspiring to work at the highest level and seeking to deepen their practical knowledge of conducting opera. We are looking for conductors with technical competency who wish to develop their powers of interpretation and expression. In addition, the course will look at the role of the conductor in premiering new work, so an interest in contemporary operatic repertoire is essential. In your application, you should tell us why you feel this experience would be of vital benefit to you now.

You will already have some professional experience conducting professional and/or amateur musicians. In your application, you are asked to submit both a CV outlining your conducting experience so far and some filmed footage of you conducting. See below for further details.

If you are not at this level of conducting, you may like to consider another of the RPS Women Conductors workshops, detailed here.

If you are unsure whether the course may be right for you or have any concerns about whether you could fully participate, you are warmly welcome to call the RPS for an informal chat on 020 7287 0019.


We are pleased to say that this particular course is free to participate in, thanks to the generous support of Oak Foundation.

Participants and observers will need to arrange their own travel and accommodation as required. Though refreshments will be provided, you should make your own arrangements for lunch: both the National Opera Studio and Royal Opera House are situated close to a range of cafés and shops.


Applicants must complete the online application form by 9am on Thursday 28 March (click the button below).

In your application, you will be asked to account why you feel this opportunity is vital for you at this moment in your career. You are also asked to upload your CV (in PDF format) which should prominently detail your conducting work so far, as well as your other vocational and educational accomplishments to date. A one or two page CV is adequate: please do not send anything longer.
In addition to your application, you should also ask a musician of standing (such as a professional musician with whom you have worked or a music teacher) to write a short reference, vouching for your accomplishments and why you would benefit from this experience.

You should ask them to send this by email to to arrive no later than the closing date of 9am on Thursday 28 March. In the subject heading of the email, they should simply write ‘Women Conductors reference for’ followed by your name. In your application form, you should state the name, role and email address of your referee so we know who to expect it from. We can only consider applications for which we have a reference submitted by the closing date.

Places are subject to availability and applications are assessed before places are confirmed.

If you are applying for the ballet and opera courses, and the panel decides to offer you a place, it is their decision which course you will be offered.

We aim to confirm places in mid-April and at that stage will also offer select candidates who are not offered places the chance to come and observe part of the course.


To help us ensure you are at a sufficiently proficient level to benefit from this course, we ask all applicants to share some filmed footage of them conducting.

Optimally, this should be conducting an orchestra, choir or relatively large chamber ensemble, professional or amateur. In order to best gauge your abilities, we ask that the footage is as high quality as possible, both audibly and visually, though we will take into account that the overall musical standard of those you are conducting may not be so proficient if it is an amateur ensemble. The camera should be facing you (not behind you).

You may choose to submit one excerpt or two but your footage should not exceed a maximum 10 minutes in duration; you can submit a longer extract, if you do not have the means to edit it, but please note we will only be able to view the first 10 minutes of it. If you do not start conducting at the start of an excerpt, please note in your application form the time (in minutes and seconds) when you do start conducting.

The footage must be ‘live’ (with no editing or dubbing) either in concert, rehearsal or filmed privately. The footage must be relatively recent, filmed no more than three years before the closing date.

You should upload your footage (publicly or privately) to YouTube, Vimeo or an equivalent platform online. We regret we cannot accept footage in any other format. Once uploaded, you should then supply the link to each excerpt in your application form. If the link is private, make sure you tell us the password in your application form.

For any questions or queries about the course, please contact us.


Jennifer Bate, organist: My worldwide schedule includes recitals, concertos, recordings, masterclasses and composition. The RPS offers excellent opportunities to meet fellow professionals socially.


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