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News: Free Experience Opera Taster Day at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

Wearside singers wanted!

Free Experience Opera Taster Day
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Sunday 8 March 2020, 10am – 3pm

Opera Sunderland are offering Wearside singers the chance to take part in a Free Experience Opera Taster Day at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on Sunday 8 March.

No previous experience is necessary and the workshop will be led by a professional opera team to immerse participants in a day of singing, drama and music.

The free taster day is part of a project inspired by local veterans. The Soldier’s Return is a brand new opera based on present day veterans’ real life experiences, premiering at The Point in Sunderland in June 2020. Drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent and ongoing combat situations, it explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home.

As with all of Opera Sunderland’s work, The Soldier’s Return is about local people taking part – from sharing their stories, to workshops and performance opportunities. The company plans to involve as many local residents as possible, including offering free singing roadshows in partnership with The Cultural Spring, and schools workshops.

Sunderland-born opera singer and Opera Sunderland Artistic Director Alison Barton said, “We have tonnes of talent here in Sunderland so we hope lots of people will sign up to give opera a go. I really believe anyone can sing, so even if you don’t have any formal training or experience our friendly team of experts can teach you. What I’d say to anyone who thinks opera’s not for them or that they ‘can’t sing’ is, ‘if you can chant at the Stadium of Light on match day or sing along to the radio in the car, then come and have a go!’”

Sandra, a local resident who took part in Opera Sunderland’s last project, described the experience as "A complete privilege. Being part of a totally original piece of work, being coached, mentored, cajoled, encouraged by a massive team of high quality professionals is such a thrill." Pauline from Sunderland added, "It was life enhancing – the best thing I’ve done all year."

The Soldier’s Return follows the success of MIRACLE! An Opera of Two Halves which premiered in Sunderland in 2015 and Opera Sunderland has brought together many of the same artistic team for this new project, including Sunderland-born Artistic Director Alison Barton, international award-winning composer Marcos Fernandez-Barrero, Director Annie Rigby and Musical Director Marco Romano, alongside T.S. Eliot Prize award-winning poet Jacob Polley who has written the libretto.

Formerly known as Music in the Minster, Opera Sunderland is a registered charity that knows opera is for everyone, and makes it available, attractive and accessible by creating exciting opportunities for the people of Sunderland. The commission is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Foyle Foundation, Hays Travel, Sir James Knott Trust and The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.

Photos: Dan Brady

To sign up for the free Experience Opera Taster Day, email

To find out more about The Soldier’s Return or to book tickets visit

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