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Vocal & Opera

Vocal and operatic study at the Royal College of Music is designed to cater for your individual talents and aspirations. We have an excellent reputation for producing international classical artists and you will receive training specifically designed for outstanding young singers preparing for a successful performing career.

An introduction to the Vocal & Opera Faculty

Head of Vocal & Opera, Nicholas Sears, joins soprano Gemma Summerfield and baritone Huw Montague Rendall to talk about the opportunities RCM students enjoy.

As a student-centric institution we aim to keep the individual’s needs at the core of both our one-to-one and class provision. You will work on developing a secure and flexible vocal technique and our comprehensive range of class provision will enhance all aspects of your craft. Our students graduate being able to present themselves with confidence, authority and autonomy in a professional context.

One-to-one lessons

One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. The Vocal and Opera Faculty boasts an impressive team of internationally acclaimed vocal professors, repertoire and operatic coaches. Our world-class professors offer students, not only first-rate teaching, but also mentorship and networking opportunities. We also have fantastic connections with the wider industry.

Meet our vocal professors

Meet our opera professors

There are creative opportunities to explore modern and period works in regular collaborations with the Composition and Historical Performance Faculties. We initiate cross-faculty song, chamber music and thematic-based projects working with distinguished artists both within and outside of the RCM.

The Vocal & Opera Faculty offers répétiteur as a principal study option for students on the Artist Diploma in Performance course.

The RCM Opera Studio is one of the world’s leading advanced training courses in the world. Based in our purpose-built and fully functioning Britten Theatre, its nurturing environment offers training at the highest level for performers from around the globe and we host three fully-staged operatic productions a year. All our opera productions are attended by international press and agents.

Mozart, Marriage of Figaro

Enjoy a full performance by the RCM Opera Studio of one of Mozart's best loved operas, directed by esteemed alumnus Sir Thomas Allen

Performance opportunities

Students in the RCM’s Vocal & Opera faculty perform in operatic performances, recitals, oratorio performances and much more. They benefit from regular collaborations with our Composition and Historical Performance Faculties. There are also opportunities for external collaborations with production company Tête à Tête and projects with English National Opera.

RCM singers have performed on the world’s greatest operatic and concert hall stages including the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Theater an der Wien, Metropolitan Opera, New York, Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Carnegie Hall, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera and the Royal Albert Hall.

In addition to performances within the RCM, further opportunities exist for external work through our extensive contacts in the music business and the engagements offered by the RCM Creative Careers Centre.

Vocal students benefit from regular masterclasses given by international artists and coaching from the repetiteurs of London's world-renowned opera houses.

Recent visiting artists

Our students enjoy regular masterclasses with high profile visitors including:

  • Sir Thomas Allen
  • Sophie Bevan
  • Dame Sarah Connolly
  • Gerald Finley
  • Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
  • Simon Keenlyside
  • Ann Murray
  • Brindley Sherratt
  • Roger Vignoles
  • Edith Wiens
  • Roderick Williams
  • Gregory Kunde

Recent directors for operatic productions have included:

  • Sir Thomas Allen
  • Olivia Fuchs
  • Liam Steele
  • Bill Bankes-Jones
  • Stephen Unwin
  • Daniel Slater

Student successes

RCM vocal students regularly win prizes at international singing competitions including:

  • Kathleen Ferrier Awards
  • Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition
  • International Competition of Belcanto Vincenzo Bellini
  • BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
  • Grange Festival International Singing Competition
  • Cesti Competition
  • Göttingen Competition

Many progress onto internationally renowned Young Artist Programmes including:

  • Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Programme
  • Houston Grand Opera Studio
  • National Opera Studio
  • Bayerische Staatsoper Studio
  • Frankfurt Ensemble
  • l'Atelier lyrique de l’opéra de Paris
  • ENO Harewood Young Artists
  • Zurich Opera Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House

RCM singers have gone on to perform with renowned companies across the globe, many performing principal roles on the world's greatest operatic stages. Such destinations include:

  • Barbican
  • Bayerische Staatsoper
  • Deutsche Opera
  • English National Opera
  • Garsington Opera
  • Glyndebourne Festival Opera
  • Grange Park Opera
  • Houston Grand Opera
  • La Scala, Milan
  • Liceu, Barcelona
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Metropolitan Opera, New York
  • Oper Frankfurt
  • Opéra Bastille
  • Opera North
  • Royal Albert Hall Scottish Opera
  • Royal Festival Hall
  • Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
  • Theater an der Wien
  • Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
  • Théâtre du Châtelet
  • Vienna State Opera
  • Welsh National Opera
  • Wigmore Hall

Celebrated alumni

  • Sir Thomas Allen
  • Sophie Bevan
  • Alfie Boe
  • Sarah-Jane Brandon
  • Sally Burgess
  • Paul Charles Clarke
  • Sarah Connolly
  • Roderick Earle
  • Gerald English
  • Dame Anne Evans
  • Helen Field
  • Gerald Finley
  • Michael George
  • Martyn Hill
  • Jason Howard
  • Ruby Hughes
  • Jacques Imbrailo
  • Ben Johnson
  • Della Jones
  • Dame Gwyneth Jones
  • Rosemary Joshua
  • Janis Kelly
  • Andrew Kennedy
  • Jonathan Lemalu
  • Jenny Lind
  • Valerie Masterson
  • Pumeza Matshikiza
  • Vuyani Mlinde
  • Robert Murray
  • Ian Partridge
  • Sir Peter Pears
  • Dame Joan Sutherland
  • Camilla Tilling
  • Sarah Walker
  • Elizabeth Watts
  • Catherine Wyn-Rogers
  • Lawrence Zazzo
  • Louise Alder
  • Sally Burgess

Career development

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

Find out more


We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.

The RCM has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals. It boasts a retractable stage, a Fazioli grand piano, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.   

In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall. 

As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, and a recently opened Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner pianos, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.

RCM Studios is a commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.

The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives. Our musicians also have access to thousands of scores online through our partnership with nkoda, and Henle digital sheet music.

The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 instruments, portraits, images and engravings dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. These items offer fascinating insight into the past, present and future of music and provide a coherent and comprehensive resource for the documentation, research and representation of the history of musical performance and instrument-making in London, particularly between the 18th and 20th centuries. Collection items regularly feature in academic and popular publications, television and radio programmes and as loans to major international exhibitions in Europe and beyond.

As part of a £3.6 million National Lottery Heritage Funded project, the Museum collection has been greatly enhanced and revitalised in a suite of purpose-built spaces that include accessible permanent display and temporary exhibition galleries, a ‘hands-on’ discovery area, a climate-controlled performance space and a dedicated research facility.

Contact the Vocal & Opera Faculty

If you have any general queries about vocal at the RCM please contact our Vocal & Opera Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.

Vocal & Opera Faculty Administration

General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons


Admissions and general audition enquiries