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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 supports emerging opera singers and prepares them for their future careers. The NI Opera Studio offers its associated members a substantial performance programme, including studio-scale productions, recitals, and opportunities to be involved in main-stage productions. The singers also benefit from individual coaching, masterclasses with leading international artists, as well as professional mentoring, career guidance, and language coaching. Additionally, the Studio members play an active role in Northern Ireland Opera’s outreach work. During the course of their year with the Studio, the singers will nurture a long-term professional relationship with Northern Ireland Opera.

The members of the Northern Ireland Opera Studio 2018/19 are: 

Margaret Bridge (Wicklow), Francesco Giusti (Dublin), Jessica Hackett (Meath), Kelli-Ann Masterson (Wexford), Elaine McDaid (Derry/Londonderry), Rebecca Murphy (Antrim)

The NI Opera Studio 2018/2019


As a Studio Artist at NI Opera, there were regular opportunities to learn and perform a wide variety of repertoire. I covered Dorabella in NI Opera’s main stage production Così fan tutte, which was an excellent chance to study an entire role in its original language. What made this particularly valuable to me was then being able to perform most of the role for an audience in the Studio production The School for Lovers. Our production of Midnight Vanities allowed me to explore a different style of performance, which I believe has contributed to my development on stage. The relaxed, cabaret style of delivery afforded me some freedom as a performer that I feel I might have lacked in the past.  The language coaching, vocal lessons and masterclasses I received have all been hugely beneficial to my vocal development and I feel I have increased in confidence as an artist.
Former NI Opera Studio member Dawn Burns

The Northern Ireland Opera Studio 2018-19 is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

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

Northern Ireland Opera Studio Artists 2018-19

Margaret Bridge (mezzo-soprano)

Mezzo-soprano Margaret Bridge trained at the Royal Irish Academy of Music before completing further graduate studies at the New England Conservatory, Boston. Operatic roles include Melanto (The Return of Ulysses, Opera Collective Ireland), Prince Charmant (Cendrillon, New England Conservatory) and the title role in Agrippina for New England Conservatory. She is a former member of the Young Artist programs at Chautauqua Opera, USA, and Opera Theatre Company, Dublin. On the concert stage she has appeared with  the Goethe Institut Choir in Dublin, the Ulster Orchestra and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir. Margaret Bridge holds a BA in Musicology and Theory from Trinity College Dublin. In September, she was named NI Opera’s Deborah Voigt Voice of 2018 at the Festival of Voice in Glenarm, Co. Antrim.

Francesco Giusti (counter-tenor)

Born in Bologna, counter-tenor Francesco Giusti studied the pianoforte, organ and composition at the Bologna and Ferrara Conservatoires, as well as musicology at Bologna University. He subsequently completed a degree in vocal performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Andrew Watts, and undertook further studies at the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater in Leipzig with Gundula Andrers in historical singing, and at the Conservatoire of Amsterdam with Xenia Meijer and Maarten Konigsberger. During his time in Germany, he performed the leading role in a touring production of Mario Fuggitivo by Bononcini/Telemann.

As a concert soloist, Francesco Giusti regularly performs in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, particularly with the Domcantorij choir in Utrecht. In 2017, he performed in a stage production of Buxtehude’s cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri in Hamburg. In the same year he moved to Dublin, where he is a Lay Vicar Choral at Christ Church Cathedral.

Jessica Hackett (soprano)

Jessica Hackett is a 22-year old lyric soprano from County Meath. A graduate from Maynooth University, she is currently continuing her performance studies at the Conservatory of Music and Drama at DIT, where she is working with Colette McGahon-Tosh. Jessica’s operatic engagements include the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon (North Dublin Opera) and Fanny in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio (NI Opera Studio). She has performed extracts as The Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Arsamenes in Serse and Frasquita in Carmen. She is also an avid performer of operetta and musical theatre, where her credits include the roles of Mabel in Pirates of Penzance and Joanna in Sweeney Todd among others.

Kelli-Ann Masterson (soprano)

Wexford-born soprano Kelli-Ann Masterson completed a BMus degree at Trinity College Dublin, and a MMus at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. During her studies she sang the role of Daniel in a staging of Handel’s oratorio Susanna, as well as covering the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. She regularly performs with Opera in the Open, where notable roles included L’Amour in Gluck’s Orphée ed Eurydice, Adele in Strauss’ Fledermaus and most recently Janthe in Marschner’s Der Vampyr. In 2017, she performed with the National Gilbert & Sullivan UK Opera Company in 2017. In 2018, Kelli-Ann Masterson sung the role of Despina in Così fan tutte with Clyde Opera Group in Glasgow. She also performed with the Lyric Opera Studio in Weimar, where she sung the roles of Papagena and Zweiter Knabe in Die Zauberflöte.

Elaine McDaid (soprano)

Derry native Elaine McDaid is a graduate from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, where she completed her Masters in Music Performance in 2015. She also holds a BA in Laws from Trinity College, Dublin. Elaine is currently studying with Kathryn Harries in the UK. Elaine sang the role of Musetta in Barefoot Opera’s UK tour of La Bohème in autumn 2017 under the direction of Jenny Miller. Other operatic roles include Pamina (Die Zauberflöte, North Dublin Opera Company), Margherite (Méphistophele, DIT Opera Ensemble), and Venere (L’incoronazione di Poppea, DIT Opera Ensemble). On the concert platform, she has performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.

Rebecca Murphy (soprano)

Northern Irish soprano Rebecca Murphy holds a BMus from Queen’s University Belfast and recently completed her Master of Music in Vocal Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, under the tutelage of Wilma MacDougall.

Rebecca’s operatic roles include Rose Maurrant in Street scene, Soprano 1 in Le vin herbé, Dido in Dido and Aeneas among others. Upcoming performances include a newly commissioned opera entitled Waking beauty by Sean Doherty, in which Rebecca Murphy will be creating the role of Princess Talia. She has appeared in several opera scenes at RCS, including as Vixen in The cunning little vixen, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. Her chorus work includes Prokofiev’s The fiery angel (Scottish Opera) and Handel’s oratorio Theodora (Sestina/Irish Baroque Orchestra).

As a concert soloist, her repertoire include Bach’s Cantata BWV 199, Brahms’ Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Stanford’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vespers, and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.