Summer Opera



Every year the Yorke Trust runs a summer opera course to provide exceptional young musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance. Whenever possible, promising musicians of school age are involved.

Recognised as one of Britain’s leading courses of its kind, the Trust offers a three week experience that is at once intimate and intense, highly personalised, and deeply collaborative.

Tuition, food and accommodation is provided virtually free of charge. Exceptionally, modest bursaries can be awarded to students who have difficulty in financing their travel.

Courses are held at The Creake Centre where the beautiful setting in rural Norfolk adds to the study environment. Whilst the Centre can accommodate thirteen students, an opera course often involves sixty or more people, so as many as forty-five beds have to be found with local hostesses, whose generosity is legendary.

All food is provided on-site and is prepared to high standards by the Trust’s resident chef Robert McNaughtan and his team; most food is grown locally and meal times provide a central hub for social activity. Students help out in the kitchen by rota.

Production work focuses mainly on performance skills. However, uniquely, other aspects of theatre including stage management, wardrobe and make-up are covered. Singing students may be making their operatic debut or tackling a big role for the first time. Conductors and instrumentalists may be exploring a medium with which they are unfamiliar. All vocal students participate in masterclasses during the courses: instrumental classes are planned for the future.

Performances are usually given in nearby St Mary’s Parish Church, one of the county’s finest buildings of its kind. Occasionally operas are given at nearby Houghton Hall.

In the absence of a proscenium arch, productions are staged ‘in the round’, providing an additional challenge both to those who have had theatrical training, but more especially to those who have had none.

Almost miraculously, just three weeks after arrival in the village, roles have been learned, props made, costumes sewn or glued together and an opera is presented to a standard of which any fully professional company could be proud – and all on the lowest of budgets.


2013 Summer Opera ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ celebrating Benjamin Britain’s Centenary’

Puck & Oberon