Prepare for a career on the world’s most prestigious stages

Royal Academy Opera (RAO) functions as a small opera company and a bridge to the profession.

'The standard of performances is absolutely amazing – not just the singing but the acting, the stagecraft, the whole bundle. Royal Academy Opera students are being given everything they need to succeed'
Dame Felicity Lott DBE

The two-year postgraduate course*, which includes invaluable performance experience, is for exceptionally talented singers with the potential and aspiration to succeed as principals at the highest levels. Generous bursaries are available for RAO students.

Our highly focused study environment includes one-to-one tuition, group classes and opera scenes, as well as three fully staged productions per year, which are regularly attended by representatives from opera companies, artist agencies and the national press.

You will work closely with distinguished in-house professors and international visiting artists, and will also benefit from acting and movement classes, language coaching and classes in many other areas of professional development.

*For undergraduate training, see Vocal Studies.

The Academy's flag on the front of the building

Introduction to the Vocal Studies and Opera Departments with Kate Paterson and Brenda Hurley

Joyce DiDonato teaches a student on the stage of the Susie Sainsbury Theatre

Bicentenary Series Masterclass with Joyce DiDonato

'Myself I shall adore' from Handel's Semele, performed by Royal Academy Opera

Freddie de Tommaso

Freddie de Tommaso

Graduated 2018
Voice (Tenor)

Freddie de Tommaso

Graduated 2018

Voice (Tenor)

British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso shot to prominence when he won the First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize and the Verdi Prize at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona.

A member of the studio of Bayerische Staatsoper for the 18/19 season, De Tommaso appeared in productions including Norma, La Fanciulla del West, La bohème and the programme’s production of Mavra and Iolanta double bill. Prior to this, he was a member of the Young Singer Academy at the Salzburg Festival for the 2018 season. Following the Viñas competition, De Tommaso was invited to appear in concert at Teatro Real, Madrid and in recital in Vilagarcia, Spain. Other performances included concerts with the Georg Solti Accademia in Tuscany and a gala concert at the Victoria Hall, Geneva. His solo credits also include Mendelssohn Elijah, Puccini Messa di Gloria and Verdi Requiem.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, roles here included Don Jose in La Tragedie de Carmen and Rodolfo in La bohème. De Tommaso was generously supported by the Josephine Baker and Countess of Munster trusts. He is a Joseph Karaviotis scholar, a recipient of a Gregory-Carr scholarship and the Richard Lewis scholarship. He currently studies with Professor Mark Wildman and has worked in masterclasses with Christa Ludwig, Placido Domingo, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Barbara Frittoli, Massimo Giordano, Richard Bonynge and Sir Antonio Pappano.

Photo by Julian Baumann

Meet
our alunni

Helena Dix

Helena Dix

Graduated 2005
Voice (Soprano)

Helena Dix

Graduated 2005

Voice (Soprano)

Described by critics as ‘the most exciting voice since Joan Sutherland’, Australian born Helena Dix has secured her name on operatic stages all around the world. In competitions, she notably represented Australia in the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and made her USA debut as a finalist in the Seattle International Wagner Opera competition to great critical acclaim. She was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 for her significant contribution to the music profession.

Dix’s operatic appearances include the title role in Feroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia for Wexford Festival Opera, Oldenburg Staatstheater and Chelsea Opera Group, Elettra in Mozart’s Idomeneo and Odabella in Verdi’s Attila for Staatstheater Nürnberg and Lubeck opera, Flower maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal for English National Opera, Elvira (cover) in Verdi’s Ernani for The Metropolitan Opera, Isabella in Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot for Chelsea Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Hanna Glawari in Lehár’s The Merry Widow for Scottish Opera. She has also covered the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos for Garsington Opera. In 2019 she made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff.

Engagements elsewhere in recent seasons have included covering Sondra Radvanovsky in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at the San Francisco Opera and a return to the Royal Albert Hall to sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Dix’s commercial recording debut of Howells’ Missa Sabrenesis with the BBC Concert orchestra and the Bach choir was released on Hyperion records in May 2020.

Marcus Farnsworth

Marcus Farnsworth

Graduated 2011
Voice (Bass-Baritone)

Marcus Farnsworth

Graduated 2011

Voice (Bass-Baritone)

Marcus Farnsworth was awarded first prize in the 2009 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier Competition. He was a chorister at Southwell Minster and went on to study at Chetham’s School of Music and the University of Manchester. Marcus is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his postgraduate studies as a member of Royal Academy Opera.

He has appeared as a principal artist with major opera companies in the UK and abroad. He has performed Guglielmo Cosi fan Tutte, Novice’s Friend Billy Budd and Strephon Iolanthe all for ENO; Lance Corporal Lewis in the world premiere of In Parenthesis by Iain Bell for Welsh National Opera, Sid in Britten Albert Herring in concert with the BBC SO and Ned Keene Peter Grimes at Edinburgh International Festival with Edward Gardner. Other notable roles have included Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream on tour with the Aix en Provence Festival and Bergen National Opera and Eddy in Turnage Greek for Music Theatre Wales and Boston Lyric Opera.

Farnsworth has given recitals at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, La Monnaie, the Oxford Lieder Festival and Leeds Lieder. He has appeared many times at the Wigmore Hall with pianists including James Baillieu, Julius Drake, Graham Johnson and Joseph Middleton. In concert, he has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in performances of Turnage’s The Silver Tassie, the world premiere of Cheryl Hoad’s Last Man Standing and Hubbard in Doctor Atomic conducted by John Adams. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he had a great success in Candide conducted by Marin Alsop.

A strong supporter of contemporary composers, he has sung works by John Tavener, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher, Peter Maxwell Davies and David Sawer. For the 2017 BBC Proms, Farnsworth performed Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Sian Edwards.

Marcus is Head of Vocal and Choral Studies at Chetham’s School of Music and is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Southwell Music Festival.

Sarah Tynan

Sarah Tynan

Graduated 2003
Voice (Soprano)

Sarah Tynan

Graduated 2003

Voice (Soprano)

Recently nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the most influential artists in London, British soprano Sarah Tynan is well established as one of the most exciting and versatile singers of her generation.

Recent operatic engagements include the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor, Partenope and The Merry Widow, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Romilda in Xerxes, Eurydice in Orpheus and Eurydice and Eurydice in Orphée by Glass for English National Opera; Despina in Così fan tutte for Opera Holland Park; Fiorilla in Il Turco in Italia for Garsington Opera; a staged production of Benjamin Britten’s Les illuminations with the Aurora Orchestra at Aldeburgh Festival; Pat Nixon in Nixon in China with The Royal Danish Opera and English National Opera; the Governess in The Turn of the Screw for Opera North; and the title role in Semele for the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston.

Tynan has performed in three world premieres: Dai Fujikura’s Solaris at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra de Lille and Opéra de Lausanne; Sharon Disney in Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at Teatro Real and English National Opera; and Megan in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice for Welsh National Opera. She was also awarded the 2015 Wales Theatre Award for Best Female in an Opera Production for her portrayal of Manon Lescaut in Hans Werner Henze’s Boulevard Solitude at Welsh National Opera.

Equally in demand on the concert platform, Tynan has a wide concert repertoire including Brahms’s A German Requiem, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Mahler’s Symphonies No 2, 4 and 8, Haydn’s The Creation, JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah, among many others.

Recent concert highlights include Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 7 with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, The Sixteen and at the Royal Albert Hall; and The Creation with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Recordings include Carmina Burana with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and The Creation with the Handel and Haydn Society.

Photo by Chris Gloag

Find out more about the career paths of some of our former students

Meet our alumni

Freddie de Tommaso

Freddie de Tommaso

Graduated 2018
Voice (Tenor)

Freddie de Tommaso

Graduated 2018

Voice (Tenor)

British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso shot to prominence when he won the First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize and the Verdi Prize at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona.

A member of the studio of Bayerische Staatsoper for the 18/19 season, De Tommaso appeared in productions including Norma, La Fanciulla del West, La bohème and the programme’s production of Mavra and Iolanta double bill. Prior to this, he was a member of the Young Singer Academy at the Salzburg Festival for the 2018 season. Following the Viñas competition, De Tommaso was invited to appear in concert at Teatro Real, Madrid and in recital in Vilagarcia, Spain. Other performances included concerts with the Georg Solti Accademia in Tuscany and a gala concert at the Victoria Hall, Geneva. His solo credits also include Mendelssohn Elijah, Puccini Messa di Gloria and Verdi Requiem.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, roles here included Don Jose in La Tragedie de Carmen and Rodolfo in La bohème. De Tommaso was generously supported by the Josephine Baker and Countess of Munster trusts. He is a Joseph Karaviotis scholar, a recipient of a Gregory-Carr scholarship and the Richard Lewis scholarship. He currently studies with Professor Mark Wildman and has worked in masterclasses with Christa Ludwig, Placido Domingo, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Barbara Frittoli, Massimo Giordano, Richard Bonynge and Sir Antonio Pappano.

Photo by Julian Baumann

Helena Dix

Helena Dix

Graduated 2005
Voice (Soprano)

Helena Dix

Graduated 2005

Voice (Soprano)

Described by critics as ‘the most exciting voice since Joan Sutherland’, Australian born Helena Dix has secured her name on operatic stages all around the world. In competitions, she notably represented Australia in the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and made her USA debut as a finalist in the Seattle International Wagner Opera competition to great critical acclaim. She was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 for her significant contribution to the music profession.

Dix’s operatic appearances include the title role in Feroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia for Wexford Festival Opera, Oldenburg Staatstheater and Chelsea Opera Group, Elettra in Mozart’s Idomeneo and Odabella in Verdi’s Attila for Staatstheater Nürnberg and Lubeck opera, Flower maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal for English National Opera, Elvira (cover) in Verdi’s Ernani for The Metropolitan Opera, Isabella in Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot for Chelsea Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Hanna Glawari in Lehár’s The Merry Widow for Scottish Opera. She has also covered the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos for Garsington Opera. In 2019 she made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff.

Engagements elsewhere in recent seasons have included covering Sondra Radvanovsky in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at the San Francisco Opera and a return to the Royal Albert Hall to sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Dix’s commercial recording debut of Howells’ Missa Sabrenesis with the BBC Concert orchestra and the Bach choir was released on Hyperion records in May 2020.

Marcus Farnsworth

Marcus Farnsworth

Graduated 2011
Voice (Bass-Baritone)

Marcus Farnsworth

Graduated 2011

Voice (Bass-Baritone)

Marcus Farnsworth was awarded first prize in the 2009 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier Competition. He was a chorister at Southwell Minster and went on to study at Chetham’s School of Music and the University of Manchester. Marcus is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his postgraduate studies as a member of Royal Academy Opera.

He has appeared as a principal artist with major opera companies in the UK and abroad. He has performed Guglielmo Cosi fan Tutte, Novice’s Friend Billy Budd and Strephon Iolanthe all for ENO; Lance Corporal Lewis in the world premiere of In Parenthesis by Iain Bell for Welsh National Opera, Sid in Britten Albert Herring in concert with the BBC SO and Ned Keene Peter Grimes at Edinburgh International Festival with Edward Gardner. Other notable roles have included Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream on tour with the Aix en Provence Festival and Bergen National Opera and Eddy in Turnage Greek for Music Theatre Wales and Boston Lyric Opera.

Farnsworth has given recitals at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, La Monnaie, the Oxford Lieder Festival and Leeds Lieder. He has appeared many times at the Wigmore Hall with pianists including James Baillieu, Julius Drake, Graham Johnson and Joseph Middleton. In concert, he has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in performances of Turnage’s The Silver Tassie, the world premiere of Cheryl Hoad’s Last Man Standing and Hubbard in Doctor Atomic conducted by John Adams. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he had a great success in Candide conducted by Marin Alsop.

A strong supporter of contemporary composers, he has sung works by John Tavener, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher, Peter Maxwell Davies and David Sawer. For the 2017 BBC Proms, Farnsworth performed Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Sian Edwards.

Marcus is Head of Vocal and Choral Studies at Chetham’s School of Music and is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Southwell Music Festival.

Sarah Tynan

Sarah Tynan

Graduated 2003
Voice (Soprano)

Sarah Tynan

Graduated 2003

Voice (Soprano)

Recently nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the most influential artists in London, British soprano Sarah Tynan is well established as one of the most exciting and versatile singers of her generation.

Recent operatic engagements include the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor, Partenope and The Merry Widow, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Romilda in Xerxes, Eurydice in Orpheus and Eurydice and Eurydice in Orphée by Glass for English National Opera; Despina in Così fan tutte for Opera Holland Park; Fiorilla in Il Turco in Italia for Garsington Opera; a staged production of Benjamin Britten’s Les illuminations with the Aurora Orchestra at Aldeburgh Festival; Pat Nixon in Nixon in China with The Royal Danish Opera and English National Opera; the Governess in The Turn of the Screw for Opera North; and the title role in Semele for the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston.

Tynan has performed in three world premieres: Dai Fujikura’s Solaris at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra de Lille and Opéra de Lausanne; Sharon Disney in Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at Teatro Real and English National Opera; and Megan in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice for Welsh National Opera. She was also awarded the 2015 Wales Theatre Award for Best Female in an Opera Production for her portrayal of Manon Lescaut in Hans Werner Henze’s Boulevard Solitude at Welsh National Opera.

Equally in demand on the concert platform, Tynan has a wide concert repertoire including Brahms’s A German Requiem, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Mahler’s Symphonies No 2, 4 and 8, Haydn’s The Creation, JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah, among many others.

Recent concert highlights include Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 7 with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, The Sixteen and at the Royal Albert Hall; and The Creation with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Recordings include Carmina Burana with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and The Creation with the Handel and Haydn Society.

Photo by Chris Gloag