Welsh National Opera is launching a new associate artist programme as part of efforts to develop young talent.
The Cardiff-based company is formalising its associate scheme for singers for the first time in seven years thanks to newly secured funding, and it is also widening the process with open auditions. Tryouts will be held in five cities across Wales and England.
In recent years, WNO has appointed associate artists in an ad-hoc capacity and has traditionally done so through conservatoires and opera schools.
Now, it will recruit two singers aged between 18 and 32 each year to join the company for a year-long, full-time traineeship, which will include training and development for performance but also audition coaching, language training and workshops on how to market themselves as artists.
This will run alongside mentoring from soprano Rebecca Evans, the programme’s ambassador.
In order to be eligible, performers must have a minimum of one year’s vocal training at higher education, college or conservatoire level, and relevant opera performance experience either as a chorister or principal at college, or professional work.
The open auditions will be held in Cardiff, Manchester, London, Birmingham and Bristol/Bath, followed by a second round in Cardiff at WNO’s home, the Wales Millennium Centre.
WNO said it hoped the process would open up its places to a wider variety of applicants.
The first round of auditions will take place in November and December, with chosen singers joining WNO for 12 months between August 2020 and July 2021.
The programme is being funded by the Shirley and Rolf Olsen bursary.