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The Northern Ireland Opera Studio programme is at the heart of the company’s mission to promote and develop young talent.

NIO Studio (PNG) (pink)




The NI Opera Studio is set to expand the scope of its training in 2021.  Northern Ireland Opera understands that it takes an extremely diverse array of highly skilled artists across many specific disciplines to create an opera.  To acknowledge this we believe the NI Opera Studio should also reflect this in relation to the breadth of its training.   Starting in 2021 we will be extending applications to artists (non-singing) who are interested in training opportunities within opera, music theatre, song and recital.   If you are an emerging stage manager, costume or set designer, director, lighting designer, choreographer etc, and you are looking to gain experience and training with the national opera company through the NI Opera Studio please apply now.  Training will be delivered through mentoring, master classes and experience on studio productions with potential for experience on main stage Northern Ireland Opera productions. The expanded 2021 programme will begin in April 2021.

The NI Opera Studio will continue to support emerging opera singers, conductors and repetiteurs and will prepare all its members for their future careers. Studio Members and Associate Artists will benefit from individual coaching, master classes with leading professional artists, as well as professional mentoring, career guidance, and language coaching.  Additionally, the Studio members will play an active role in Northern Ireland Opera’s outreach programs and workshops of new commissions.  During the course of their training with the NI Opera Studio and Associate Artists Program, participants will have the potential to build a long-term professional relationship with Northern Ireland Opera and will be called on at times to fulfil ambassadorial roles for the company.

These positions are paid training positions.


The Northern Ireland Opera Studio, (previously known as the Young Artists Programme) has been running since 2011 and to date supported 39 emerging opera singers, helping prepare them for their future careers. To date it has offered its members a programme which includes studio-scale productions, recitals, and opportunities to be involved in main-stage productions. The singers have benefitted from individual coaching, masterclasses with leading international artists, as well as professional mentoring, career guidance, and language coaching. Additionally, the Studio members have played an active role in Northern Ireland Opera’s outreach work. During the course of their year with the Studio, the singers build a long-term professional relationship with Northern Ireland Opera.

“The NI Opera Studio allowed me to establish myself in my home country, to make new and important contacts, and has enhanced me as a performer. This year, I had the opportunity to explore several unconventional roles as well as being involved in productions which involved straight acting. These experiences certainly enabled me to become a more ‘rounded’ performer, adding to the list of more conventional roles I had studied at Music College.  In addition, I have had the opportunity to attend coaching sessions with Walter Sutcliffe, Kathryn Harries, and participate in a masterclass with Stefan Vinke, all of which gave me new and exciting angles with which to approach my singing.  The NI Opera Studio has helped me to bridge the gap between graduating from Music College and entering the singing profession, providing me with the stage time I needed to feel confident about forthcoming auditions.”
Former NI Opera Studio member Rebecca Murphy

The Northern Ireland Opera Studio 2019-20 is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Follow the NI Opera Studio on Twitter @NIOpera_Studio

Click and read a short interview with one of our prestigious vocal coaches about her work with the Studio: Ingrid Surgenor.

Click in this picture to access our gallery and see our NI Opera Studio productions:

Northern Ireland Opera Studio Artists 2019-20

Ana-Maria Acunune (soprano)

Born in Bucharest, Romania, soprano Ana-Maria Acunune is a recent graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin where she studied with Kathleen Tynan, Dearbhla Collins and Andrew Synnott. Before moving to Ireland, she completed a BA in vocal performance at the George Enescu National College of Music in Bucharest. During her time at the Academy, she has performed the roles of Kathleen Rode (Pity) in Stephen McNaff’s opera Banished, the Mute Valet in Siobhán Cleary and Katy Hayes’s Vampirella and Amore in Monteverdi’s Il Ballo delle Ingrate. On the concert stage she has performed alongside Dublin choir Resurgam, her repertory including Tippet’s A Child of our Time and Vespers by Monteverdi and Scarlatti, amongst others. Ana-Maria Acunune has participated in masterclasses and has received coaching from Ann Murray and Brenda Hurley, among others.

David Corr (baritone)

David Corr is a baritone from Dublin. He graduated with a BMus in performance from TUD Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin in 2017 and continues to study with Emmanuel Lawler. This season, he sang in Northern Ireland’s touring production of Greg Caffrey’s children’s opera Pamplemousse, and appeared in the NI Opera Studio production of Jacques Offenbach’s L’isle de Tulipatan. For the past two seasons, he has been a member of the NI Opera chorus, performing at the Grand Opera House Belfast in Rigoletto and the recent Die Fledermaus, both directed by NI Opera artistic director Walter Sutcliffe. In 2018, David Corr was selected by Irish National Opera to participate in the Young Artists Showcase. He was also a chorus member in INO’s production of Aida. His solo oratorio performances have included Oratorio de Noël by Camille Saint-Saens and Handel’s Messiah. In February 2019 he was the bass soloist at the Belfast Philharmonic Society ‘Come and Sing Messiah’ event with the Ulster Orchestra. Future performances include Haydn’s Creation with the Wexford Festival Singers. He has worked the Blackwater Opera Festival Chorus for three years, most recently performing in Don Pasquale. During his time at TUD Conservatory he performed the role of Don Iñigo Gomez in the Ravel opera L’heure espagnole and performed in a series of ‘Lunchtime Opera Scenes’ at the National Concert Hall.

Zoë Jackson (soprano)

Northern Irish soprano Zoë Jackson studied at The University of Manchester under the tutelage of Andrew Heggie, graduating with a Bachelor of Music. During her time in Manchester she performed the title roles in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Holst’s chamber opera Sāvitri in student productions. She also appeared several times with The Opera Shack, a Manchester-based opera collective, integrating music and spoken word. Her roles with the company include Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Cigarette Girl in Carmen, in addition to various scenes and pop up performances.  Zoë Jackson was a participant in inaugural Virtuoso and Belcanto Festival Opera Project, studying the role of Lauretta with Ross Craigmaile, Massimo Morelli and Aldo Tarabella. She subsequently returned to Lucca to perform the role of Novizia in Puccini’s Suor Angelica at the Teatro del Giglio, Lucca. Her chorus work includes Handel’s dramatic oratorio Theodora with Sestina and the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and Die Fledermaus with Northern Ireland Opera. Her oratorio repertory includes the Duruflé and Fauré Requiems, which she performed with the University of Manchester Chamber choirs. In 2018 she featured as one of the Camerata Ireland Academy Young Artists, performing at Clandeboye Festival under the guidance of Irish soprano Ailish Tynan. She has also taken part in coachings with Iain Burnside and Ingrid Surgenor.

David Lee (counter-tenor)

David Lee is a countertenor from Belfast. After graduating from King’s College London with a BMus, he attended the Royal Academy of Music for his MA in Vocal Performance, where he studied with Glenville Hargreaves and Chad Vindin. His operatic roles include Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Apollo in Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus, Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, all of which he performed at the Royal Academy of Music. His oratorio repertoire includes Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Vivaldi’s Gloria, among others. Alongside his solo work, David Lee has sung as an ensemble member of The Chapel Choir of King’s College London, performing regularly around England, as well as travelling to Italy, Germany, the USA, and Canada. He was also a member of the a cappella group All the King’s Men for four years, performing in three sell-out Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows, alongside tours to the USA, France, and Russia.