Leicestershire-based company Nevill Holt Opera (NHO) has announced the names of the five young singers who will take part in NHO Foundation Artists. This new project aims to support five outstanding students from the East Midlands to gain the necessary experience to help launch and support their careers in the performing arts.

The 2021 Foundation Artists are mezzo-soprano Francesca Glithero, tenor Aaron Peters, baritones Michael Ward and Kyle Doney, and soprano Elsie Ward. The scheme is open to sixth form and recent school leavers who have previously participated in NHO’s education and community programmes.

The project will see students participating in fully staged productions alongside NHO Young Artists and NHO Principal Artists. This year’s five Foundation Artists will perform in two of the highlights from NHO’s forthcoming Summer Festival, Verdi’s La traviata (The Fallen Woman, 1853) and Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787). This will give them valuable real-world performing experience and expertise at this crucial early stage in their development.

Nicholas Chalmers, artistic director of Nevill Holt Opera, commented: “Nevill Holt Opera has put its education programmes front and centre of all its work since the creation of the company in 2013. Primary and secondary students have benefited from workshops, performing opportunities and seeing our shows. Many of these students are looking to pursue a career in the performing arts and need the experience, support and opportunities which their local opera company could provide.

“The creation of the Foundation Artist scheme bridges the gap between completing school and attending further education. This scheme will show a pathway to the stage for all young people involved in our work. Now more than ever, we need to show young people that there are future opportunities in our industry.”

Every year NHO runs programmes and creates opportunities on the stage for primary and secondary students, while the company’s productions feature post-graduate music college young artists and principal performers. The aim of the new programme is that students who have taken part in these education programmes since primary school will be able to identify a pathway to a performing career – supported by NHO every step of the way.

As NHO Foundation Artists, the five students will receive coaching from experienced stage directors; singing and language training from the artistic director, assistant conductors, music staff and language coaches; valuable, practical stage experience; and mentoring from each show’s creative team, principal singers and young artists. They will gain valuable insight into the opera industry, with opportunities to make contacts and meet people who can help to support their future careers.

Elsie Ward said: “I count myself as very lucky to have attended the DRET [David Ross Education Trust] school, Malcolm Arnold Academy, as it has given me an incredible basis on which to build my career in the arts. The opportunities have been extensive, challenging and hugely rewarding.

“With the Chapel Choir I have sung with the Britten Sinfonia and Gabrieli Consort, among others, and have sung in some world-renowned venues including St Martin-in-the-Fields and Ely Cathedral – this particular venture included singing on Gabrieli’s award-winning recording of An English Coronation which was a truly unique and wonderful experience.

“The vocal training I have had since I was 12 has been built on by undertaking regular workshops and performance opportunities with Nic Chalmers and Nevill Holt Opera. Being a part of the Chorus in Carmen and La bohème first opened up the world of opera to me and I was fortunate to be asked to play a small role of the Page in their production of Rigoletto, directed by Oliver Mears.

“To play a small role in this production and to be among professionals, being treated as one of them, was a defining experience for me and cemented my belief that a career in the arts is the path for me. I am currently studying at Arts Educational School in London and hope to continue my vocal and dance training in musical theatre over the next three years.”



The first five young singers in Nevill Holt Opera’s newly launched Foundation Artists scheme are Francesca Glithero, Aaron Peters, Michael Ward, Elsie Ward and Kyle Doney.