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 performing 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 and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), 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, a Director’s Fellowship, which provided the opportunity for an emerging director to stage a chamber opera at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells. Following a rigorous selection process, fellowships were awarded to Max Hoehn who directed Šimon Voseček’s Biedermann and the Arsonists in 2015 and Polly Graham, who directed Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Simplicius Simplicissimus in 2016. 

From 2017, Independent Opera will present an annual recital at the Wigmore Hall for its Voice Scholarship award recipients, all recent graduates from the UK’s leading music conservatoires in partnership with IO. The next concert will take place on Thursday 3rd October 2019. For more information about our Scholarship Awards please click here.  

“At Independent Opera we believe passionately in supporting artists who are themselves passionate about opera. Through our productions and the Independent Opera Artist Support scheme we have been privileged to help a large and diverse range of artists including Directors, Designers, Singers and Choreographers, and we look forward to supporting many more in the years to come.” Natalie Murray Beale, Creative Director

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2 March 2018

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