Reaching Out In Opera: An Exploration of the technical, artistic and professional implications for professional singers working in outreach

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Opera in the UK continues to be shaped by changing cultural, musicological, and funding climates. This has necessitated a drive to reach new audiences beyond the traditional theatre and formal concert hall setting. Researchers have explored the impact of such opera ‘outreach’ performance in the context of audiences, but the implication for opera performers remains largely un-researched.

This paper explores the impact of opera outreach performance specifically from the perspective of the professional opera singer. In particular, it examines the distinctive relationship between the singer and the audience and considers the how the particular demands of non-mainstage work—and its relationship to more traditional modes of opera performance—can shape the performer’s experience and evaluation of outreach performance.

This paper draws upon the author’s own experience as a professional opera singer who regularly performs with companies across the UK. It contextualises the author’s anecdotal accounts of work in this area within the current scholarly discussion on the subject. The author is currently in the early stages of doctoral research, investigating the technical, artistic and professional implications for professional singers undertaking conventional performances and outreach work in the UK. The completed doctoral study will synthesise newly-gathered qualitative and quantitative data—which will include semi-structured one-to-one interviews with professional opera singers, observations, and survey data—and situate this within the body of existing literature.

Confirmed partner companies for this project currently include Scottish Opera, Edinburgh International festival and the Dunedin Consort. The author hopes to expand this to include further national companies in the UK. This paper will refer to the author’s research project and will conclude by considering how a better understanding of performer experiences might inform the future training of singers and shape the quality of output for greater cultural and social impact.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSPHERES OF SINGING 2020
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 30 May 2020
EventSpheres of Singing 2020 -
Duration: 28 May 202030 May 2020


ConferenceSpheres of Singing 2020