A word from our patron, Alan Oke (second in from right):

"I was delighted when I was asked to support the work of Edinburgh Studio Opera by becoming its patron. During a career of some 40 years, I have become increasingly aware of the diminishing number of opportunities for young singers at the beginning of their careers to gain vital performance experience. Companies such as ESO perform an invaluable service in this area, acting as a half-way house between college/university productions and the professional world."
Alan Oke

Following a successful career as a baritone, Alan made his debut as a tenor in 1992. Since then his career has covered much of the tenor repertoire for companies include Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Scottish Opera; Opera North; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; English National Opera; Canadian Opera Company and The Metropolitan Opera as well as appearances at the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Brighton, Bregenz and Ravenna Festivals and the BBC Proms.

Our society has a student-run legacy and introduces young singers into professional performance. We collaborate with experts in both directing and musicianship, and encourage performers with any level of experience to join – we’ve all been beginners at some point. Each year our team stages two productions, in tandem with spreading opera into the wider community. Our singers, whether their ambition is to continue professionally or not, all share a passion for opera, one that proves that it is not a dying art.

Our March performance is arguably our largest production of the year. We audition for a Production Team and cast in September, and rehearsals will usually begin shortly after. There are opportunities to be a part of the chorus, or for our more experienced singers, to be a principle role.

Following the (hopeful) triumph of end of year exams, a smaller cast is auditioned and selected to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Usually, the cast is of no more than ten. This production is featured alongside many other talented artists at the Edinburgh Fringe. The opera itself is usually written for us through our annual composing competition, and we are incredibly grateful to work with such amazing musicians.

You would be wrong in thinking that ESO is all serious performance – a large part of our sponsorship comes from busking! On weekends we organise for our singers to sing along the Royal Mile, which helps us with any stage fright, and gives us a unique opportunity to perform.

Towards the end of the first semester, ESO usually hosts an Opera Gala, which is an excellent additional performance opportunity for society members. It is used to garner interest in our March performance, and also raise funds to support our society. Even chorus members from our March production can have the opportunity to perform a solo!


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"I never knew that I could find such a diverse group of people who share a passion for opera. We are the proof that it is not an outdated form of music, and regardless of whether our members join with the intention of becoming professional singers or not, we uphold the quality that is expected of traditional opera"
Holly Gowen
President 2020-21