Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne has announced that it is to support the Pegasus Opera Mentoring Programme, which offers aspiring and emerging artists of African and Asian heritage in the UK a bespoke programme of coaching and mentoring opportunities.
As part of the partnership, Glyndebourne will invite four of the next cohort of participants on the scheme to observe rehearsals and shadow established artists at the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival. They will also be offered opportunities to perform for key artistic staff and receive feedback to aid their development.
Representatives from Glyndebourne will also attend Pegasus Opera auditions and showcases in order to give the opera house access to emerging talent, who can then be encouraged to audition for the Glyndebourne Chorus, a proven launchpad for a professional career in opera.
Stephen Langridge, artistic director of Glyndebourne, commented: “Glyndebourne is committed to creating a fully inclusive and diverse workplace, both on and off stage, but while talent is everywhere, opportunity is not, so we are delighted to be working with Pegasus Opera, which has a long and impressive track record in creating opportunities for artists from a wide range of backgrounds. Their expertise in recruiting, auditioning, identifying and mentoring emerging diverse talent can be of huge help to us as we work to ensure that our stage is truly representative of the society in which we live.”
Pegasus Opera launched its mentorship scheme in 2020 as a response to the under-representation of classical singers from BAME backgrounds on the opera stage. Participants benefit from the opportunity to receive one-to-one coaching on repertoire, vocal technique, audition practice and career advice and development from seasoned professionals and an experienced vocal agent.
The inaugural programme ran between September and October 2020, and took place online due to lockdown. It involved 16 singers, many of whom went on to secure professional work. The 2020 programme included a group session with all participants led by Sir Willard White, in which he shared insights from his illustrious career and answered questions during an informal conversation.
Pegasus will be recruiting for Pegasus/Glyndebourne Partnership 21-22 Opera Mentees in December 2021. More information can be found on the company’s website.
Alison Buchanan, artistic director of Pegasus Opera Company, said: “I owe so much to Glyndebourne; my first professional audition at the age of 15 was for the 1986 production of Porgy and Bess. At that time I was the youngest person ever hired for the adult chorus. The production shaped the course of my life. It was also the place where Pegasus Opera was born; our founder Lloyd Newton, frustrated with the lack of opportunity for diverse singers after Porgy, decided to create a company that promoted ‘harmony in diversity’.
“Now that I am the artistic director of Pegasus it is fitting that Glyndebourne is the first company to partner with us in shaping the lives of young singers who just need an opportunity. We are thrilled and proud to announce this amazing partnership and look forward to seeing our mentees go from strength to strength.”
Pegasus Opera Company was founded in 1992 by opera singer and teacher Lloyd Newton. It was established to create performances and work opportunities for talented multicultural opera singers who were not afforded opportunities elsewhere. Newton passed away in 2017, leaving the legacy of Pegasus with his then associate director, Alison Buchanan. She is now the Brixton-based company’s artistic director; she is the only Black Caribbean female artistic director of an opera company in the UK.
Pegasus Opera Company’s Alison Buchanan and Glyndebourne’s Stephen Langridge have announced that the two organisations are to partner on the Pegasus Opera Mentoring Programme for emerging artists from diverse backgrounds.