British Youth Opera (BYO), a training company for musicians, singers and technical learners, based in south-west London, will put on two productions at Kensington’s Opera Holland Park (OHP) in August.

British Youth Opera was founded in 1987. It provides professional opportunities for singers, musicians and technical trainees who are at the beginning of their careers.

The company’s guest season for OHP comprises two new productions: Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (1893) and Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro (Opportunity Makes a Thief, 1812). BYO’s unique take on Humperdinck’s magical fairytale is a co-production with Silent Opera, an innovative company that uses a variety of technologies, electronics and venues to devise unique performances.

It offers a choose-your-own-adventure experience that combines live performance with a pre-recorded orchestra. Audiences can either follow Hansel and Gretel on their journey through a deserted theatre as they discover hidden games, treasures and doorways, or watch the adults’ growing concern for their children as they confront their own fears of the world we all find ourselves in.

The performances are delivered to individual audience members via their own set of wireless headphones. Viewers sit in a single location, choose which audio channel to tune into, and watch as the action springs up around them. All headphones are carefully sanitised between performances. This is a non-traditional layout – although the audience is strictly socially distanced and fixed, the opera takes place in 360 degrees throughout the theatre.

Hansel and Gretel is sung in English with a new libretto by Silent Opera Artistic Director Daisy Evans, who also directs.

L’occasione fa il ladro is a one-act comic opera, or farsa, of swapped identities, luggage mix-ups and an arranged marriage. Though much performed during composer Rossini’s lifetime, it has been neglected since his death, although it is described by BYO as “genuinely laugh-out-loud funny”.

This new production will be performed in Italian with English surtitles. It is conducted by former BYO artistic director Peter Robinson and directed by stage director, choreographer and teacher Victoria Newlyn.

All participants in the two productions onstage and behind the scenes, from singers to stage management, are at the beginning of their careers in opera. Many of Opera Holland Park’s own artists and creatives cut their operatic teeth as BYO trainees.

“I am delighted that British Youth Opera will be making its debut at Holland Park this summer,” James Clutton, CEO and director of opera at Opera Holland Park, commented. “The nurturing of young talent has been a central part of Opera Holland Park’s work since the establishment of our Young Artists Scheme in 2012.

“After a year of acute stress across all sectors of the arts industry it is a pleasure to be able to help British Youth Opera in its vital work training the artists, creatives and crew of the future, and to welcome them to our theatre.”

Both productions will take place in OHP’s newly designed open-air theatre, which has been specially designed to provide safe social distancing and greater accessibility. For further details of dates, times and ticket prices visit the British Youth Opera website or Opera Holland Park’s website.



British Youth Opera presents Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro at Opera Holland Park this summer.