Mark Le Brocq (Biedermann), Leigh Melrose (Schmitz), Alinka Kozari (Babette), Vosecek’s Biedermann and the Arsonists, 2015, photograph Robbie Jack

Our Mission

The raison d’être of INDEPENDENT OPERA at Sadler’s Wells is the encouragement of operatic talent, through mentoring and financial support. Since 2005 many young artists have developed their skills under Independent Opera’s guiding hand, gaining vital experience as they make the leap from the student world to the professional stage.

“To grow talent, you must empower it. This is the purpose of Independent Opera.” William Bollinger, Chairman


Independent Opera took its first steps as an opera company in 2005, with a production of Rossini’s La scala di seta at London Oratory School under the Artistic Directorship of Alessandro Talevi. The talent and commitment of everyone involved convinced its founders of the need for more formalised support for opera practitioners. The following year, Independent Opera established a relationship with Sadler’s Wells, and presented three productions over three years in the Lilian Baylis Studio there: Handel’s Orlando; a double bill of one-act operas by Elizabeth Maconchy, The Sofa and The Departure; and a new chamber orchestration of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.

In 2007, Independent Opera launched a programme of scholarships and fellowships. These offer financial support to those involved in the staging and production of opera at the outset of their careers. They are complemented by mentoring and access to practical advice from a network of professionals. IO has supported singers from the UK’s leading music colleges (Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and National Opera Studio), along with an artistic director and a conductor, designers, choreographers, producers and sponsored artists. Singers from around the world have benefitted from an exclusive voice fellowship, the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship.

To celebrate its ten-year anniversary in 2015, Independent Opera announced its 100th Fellowship, the annual Director’s Fellowship, which is valued at £300,000 and provides for an emerging director to stage a chamber opera at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells. 

“We’re delighted to present our second Director’s Fellowship. The selection process is rigorous: we received nominations from 30 renowned directors, which were followed by interviews with two independent panels of directors, and workshop auditions. We believe this process allowed us to engage the most promising talent and Polly Graham was the outstanding candidate for 2016.” Anna Gustafson, Chief Executive 

Recent blog posts

3 November 2016

Simplicius Rehearsals in Photos…

Read more

15 October 2016

2016 Director Fellow, Polly Graham visits Munich ahead of Simplicius rehearsals…

Read more

13 October 2016

Independent Opera announce its 2016-2017 Vocal Scholars and Postgraduate Fellows…

Read more