British Youth Opera

Offering essential experience to the most promising talent

“BYO has given opportunities to so many young people in the world of opera, both on stage and backstage.” — Dame Felicity Lott , soprano BYO President

Vision & mission

British Youth Opera provides professional opportunities for singers, musicians and technical trainees. Our participants are normally in the middle of their formal musical education or have just finished and are about to begin their professional careers.

That’s what the ‘youth’ in our name refers to – not age, but the fact that our participants are all at the beginning of their lives in opera.

More than 5,000 young people have benefitted from British Youth Opera’s training. Around half of these have been singers, and the other half music, creative and production staff: conductors, repetiteurs, directors, designers, lighting designers, costume assistants, and production and stage managers.


British Youth Opera was founded by Denis Coe MP in 1987 to give high-standard performance opportunities to singers straight out of music college. Denis was a member of the board of the National Youth Theatre and had seen that the practical experience participants were receiving was greatly enhancing their opportunity for entering the profession.

In the past 30 years, we have gone from strength to strength. Our annual summer season is an staple in the opera calendar. Our workshops have given thousands of young singers an important career boost at just the right moment. And alongside all that, one-off events with stars such as Sir Thomas Allen, José Cura, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Sir John Tomlinson have educated and entertained in equal measure. You’ll now find BYO alumni on stages and behind them all across the globe.

Images ©BYO British Youth Opera, Alastair Muir