Join the Singer’s Special Friends

Thanks to the heart-warming generosity of our friends and supporters, we have established a Singer’s Friends Fund to support our young singers at critical times in their careers; whether it is for help with audition fees, recordings, website design, travel expenses, Masterclasses or vocal coaching.

If you are able to join us in helping young singers further their careers by donating to this Fund we would be eternally grateful!

Thank you from our Singer’s Friends Fund mini-grant recipients and Bursary Award winners!



Natalie Burch

Thank you so much for this very generous assistance towards a set of videos I am making this autumn - it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of Opera Prelude! I am making these videos as most competitions require you to send up to five separate performances before they will even hear you in the first round. This is a deceptively expensive process when you have to hire a space with a great piano, proper video recording equipment and a technician to do post-recording editorial, especially when all the competitions come at the same time and you have around 15 tracks to perfect! This year I will be submitting videos for Das Lied, the Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform, Royaument and the Wigmore Song Competition which are all hugely competitive so need the very best videos I can create!
Again thank you so much, I am so endlessly grateful to Opera Prelude and its supporters for the vital assistance you provide at this stage in all our careers.
Thank you again,

Becca Marriott

In 2016, I co-wrote an adaptation of Puccini’s La Bohème, which I also starred in (singing Mimi). The production is a completely updated re-telling of Puccini’s tale of tragic love and loss, set in contemporary Dalston. Mimi’s death is completely re-envisioned. She dies of a heroin overdose. In the 19th Century the disease which killed the poor, underfed, cold and needy was TB. We wanted to tell the story of a twenty-first century social disease, which predominantly claims the lives of the disadvantaged, with little else to live for – addiction.

The show had an incredibly successful run at the King’s Head Theatre before transferring to the West End in December 2017. We were amazed to discover that we had been nominated for the Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production – up against two Royal Opera House Productions of vastly grander scale and budget; Semiramide and Exterminating Angel.

Unfortunately, each production company is only offered two tickets (in this instance, for the producer and director of the show) for the awards ceremony. Being a small theatre in the midst of a huge fundraising campaign, the King’s Head is simply not able to afford further tickets to attend the awards, walk the red carpet, and potentially go up on stage to claim the award should we win. As a freelance singer, it is very difficult for me to afford my own ticket. Larger institutions simply buy extra tickets for attendees they wish to honour – this simply isn’t possible for a fringe venue and registered charity. Thank you to Opera Prelude for enabling me to attend.

Sophie Pullen

 Thank you for my Opera Prelude mini grant! I have so enjoyed working with Maria Levandovskaya on the last couple of Russian lectures and am looking forward to putting this grant towards further Russian coaching and a recording of a number of the arias we performed, plus some others pieces.  Recordings are a really important part of getting yourself seen and heard and this grant to make my recording will make a huge difference for me. I hope to record in July. Thank you!

James Way

‘I am enormously grateful to Opera Prelude for awarding me a grant that will make it possible to continue my vocal training whilst I embark on the beginning of my career, such support is so vital at this point of my development’

Ben Williamson (countertenor) has recently benefited from an Opera Prelude mini grant.

“I would like to share with you all how I plan to invest the Opera Prelude mini grant but first of all, I would like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ – your generosity has made this project a real possibility!

Initially, I planned to record a CD of English Song, but I have now decided that the best investment would be to put the money towards producing a promotional video. The video, which I hope to film in January, would feature myself singing three arias with a small period orchestra.

As you can imagine producing a video is expensive.  Costs include hiring musicians for one day (£2000), the actual audio and video recording (£1000) as well as venue hire (£500) and the hire and tuning of a harpsichord or chamber organ (£500). The total cost is around £4000 and I currently have 50% of the total budget I need.  

This is such an exciting opportunity for me and I truly believe it will allow me to move my career to the next level.

If you would like to help me raise the extra finances needed, please contact me at benwilliamsoncountertenor@gmail.com or if you would like to see my latest schedule of events, photographs and news please have a look on my website http://www.benjaminwilliamson.com

Many thanks again for your incredible generosity!”

Joseph Ford Thompson

Amy Lyddon

I cannot thank you enough for your extreme generosity in providing me with a grant to develop my singing career. I am so touched and happy. I could never have foreseen someone being so exceedingly kind and supportive of me. Thank you. I will use the grant primarily to fund audio and video recordings, which have become absolutely vital in this day and age for a singer's audition package, as well as promotion. The opera houses and studios often ask us singers to submit video recordings as their way of pre-screening for auditions or, in some cases, as the audition itself! Thus far, I've been having to send videos that I've taken on my phone, which are nowhere near good enough(!), so it will be absolutely fantastic to have professional quality recordings to send to the opera houses and concert promoters. Furthermore, I hope to use the money to develop my website and include these videos on it. Also, it will be extremely useful for travel - it costs a lot to travel for auditions, and this is, of course, a considerable factor when I'm not being paid to audition! I am so utterly grateful for your support and plan to make the very most of it in furthering my career.



Ed Ballard

Thank you so much for your generosity in supporting me with a mini grant from the Singer’s Friend Fund. It is such a challenge as a young singer to both make ends meet and then to have the money left over to re-invest in ones own development through singing lessons and coachings. I have been working with a wonderful teacher this year, Russell Smythe, and our work together has brought my singing forward in leaps and bounds. Your support will help me to continue this work, which is at the very foundation of everything that I do.

Aidan Coburn

Thank you so much for the incredible generosity shown to me by Opera Prelude and it’s supporters. Being able to make new promotional recordings will be of tremendous benefit to me when promoting myself and my career, and I am truly thankful. Thank you!

Natalie Burch

Thank you so much to Opera Prelude, Fiona and all supporters for their generosity in helping me fund my trip to the Concours Chant Melodie Francaise. My duo partner and I were selected from all the applications to attend the final rounds of the competition which will take place over 5 days from the 1st-6th Nov. It's my first experience of a competition abroad and indeed of playing in France so I'm very excited and so grateful that Opera Prelude's generosity means I can actually go!

Callie Gaston

Dear Opera Prelude, 

Thank you so much for the grant - making video recordings has become such a commonplace request that it is vital to have the equipment to make this possible. The attachable zoom to my phone means I don’t have to sync the audio with the picture later and the quality is excellent. 
Thank you for the money to help me pay the expenses to have another 2 recording sessions this month, and make sure I have up to date media to send off with applications.  As always Opera Prelude’s generous supporters really do make a difference to helping our careers flourish. 

Natalie Burch

I just wanted to say an enormous thank you to Opera Prelude and all their generous donors for the mini grant I recently received. I will be using this to have a couple of lessons with Robin Bowman. Robin used to be head of singing at GSMD but is also a formidable pianist with a remarkable eye for spotting unhealthy tension and really intricate technical issues. 
Using the whole body is something that is often talked about with singers but sometimes we think of pianists as just using their hands - this is so far from the case! A tense jaw can result in a tense wrist and something as small as a slightly raised right thigh can completely altar the sound we produce at the piano. 
I've worked with Robin twice in the past and he has always revolutionised the way I play so I'm so grateful to be able to work with him again - thank you!


Ricardo Panela

Thanks to the Singer's Friends Fund I was able to a session of NYIOP International Auditions in London and sing for 7 different European houses in one go, saving me a lot of money with travelling to these places individually. 

Thank you so much for your help and support with this!!


Alex Haig

Thanks to Opera Prelude and it’s incredibly kind supporters I am able to use this grant towards my course at The Berlin Opera Academy, playing the role of Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos. This course will take me to Berlin for 30 days of intense study, coaching and language tuition. The course is expensive, and thanks to Opera Prelude and others, my time will be spent learning the role and the language rather than raising money. My heartfelt thanks to Fiona and Opera Prelude.


Sophie Pullen

‘Thank you for this Opera Prelude grant which is contributing towards my current studies on English National Opera’s Opera Works course. The course is an invaluable introduction to the many skills required to sing as a soloist at an international level. The masterclasses we have had so far this year have been with highly celebrated professionals in the worlds of theatre, dance, movement, sports psychology and obviously opera. Our individual coaching with the music staff at ENO have been invaluable as has been the opportunities to watch all the dress rehearsals and speak to the soloists. Thank you for supporting my studies at ENO and I look forward to exploring the new skills that this course is equipping me with.’


Mari Wyn Williams

Thank you Opera Prelude supporters. I am so thrilled to be awarded this mini grant. I will put it to great use. My intention is to put the money towards coaching for my upcoming performance of Die Walkure at Grange Park Opera where I will be performing the role of Valkyrie Helmwige. I also have an upcoming audition in Munich, so I really appreciate the help. Your support is so important to young singers and none of us could do it without you.

Phoebe Haines

With this generous donation from OP Singers' Friends Fund, I will be able to pay for my travel to Italy this Spring where I will work with my coach at La Scala, Massimiliano Bullo. Having met this summer in  China and worked on a diverse array of Italian language rep together at the Suzhou  Grand Theatre, I look forward to delving further into the Bel Canto repertoire with him, and auditioning for La Scala and the Academia Rossiniana in Pesaro. Grazie Mille! 

Richard Dowling

The financial assistance provided through Opera Prelude has given me an extremely helpful financial boost. I will use the award to help cover the costs of coaching, recordings, sheet music and audition travel expenses. Opera Prelude in this instance, and more generally, is a rare champion in its support of singers in the often difficult, transitional years, after their formal training is completed at Music College. I am most grateful to the anonymous donor who has made this Bursary Award possible.



Alice Privett

I am thrilled to be the recipient of this Opera Prelude bursary. It will enable me to pay for singing lessons for the next half year, as well as make a good quality video and audio recording at the end of it. This means that I can really focus on working on my technique whilst having something positive to aim towards. I'm extremely grateful to the donor and to Opera Prelude for giving me this opportunity!

Becca Marriott

We are delighted to announce the winner of our 2016 Opera Prelude Singer's Prize is Becca Marriott (soprano). Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor she will have a series of private coaching sessions with Della Jones.
Congratulations to our two finalists, Alberto Sousa (tenor) and Alex Otterburn (baritone).

Sophie Pullen

Many thanks to the generous donors who support Opera Prelude’s fund for young singers!  I’m very excited to have received funding for coachings with legendary soprano Dame Anne Evans, whom I sang for in Opera Prelude’s recent Masterclass arranged with the International Opera Awards. Thank you to the Singer’s Friend’s Fund for giving me this wonderful opportunity - I feel Dame Anne’s input will be very valuable whilst I prepare for auditions over the summer.

Alex Otterburn

I was lucky enough to be asked to sing at the Solti-Peretti repetiteur's course in Venice. Whilst all fees and costs were covered, I had to fund all the travel myself. Without the financial assistance from the Singer's Friends Fund, I would have been unable to attend. There I received personal coaching from maestro Richard Bonynge, Pamela Bullock (Lyric Opera Chicago) and James Vaughan (Head of music, La Scala). It is with great thanks to the Singer's Friends Fund that I could be there.

Ben Williamson

For the Opera Prelude Bursary
I am thrilled, and enormously grateful to be the beneficiary of this year's generous Opera Prelude Bursary. It will enable me to record my debut CD of English Song, which will include two song cycles written for me by Peter Foggitt, as well as three songs by Herbert Howells that have not yet been recorded. Since coming on board with Opera Prelude last year, I have been bowled over by the support I have received, and which they devotedly give to all their young artists.

Ricardo Panela

The Opera Prelude Singers' Friends Fund is an amazing helping hand with our career expenses. Thanks to the generosity of the Fund I was given a grant which helped immensely with reducing the cost of making some new recordings. For that, I couldn't be grateful enough.

Ben Williamson

2016 Singer's Friends Fund 
I am extremely grateful to Opera Prelude for the receipt of a mini-grant to contribute towards the cost of my singing lessons. Vocal technique is the foundation upon which all artistry is built so it's important to invest well in it. Thank you!



Rosie Coad

I'm so grateful for the grant from the Singers' Friends Fund. It will enable me to pay for important coachings and lessons while I prepare for auditions and performances. Thank you very much indeed for all your help!

Maria Levandovskaya

I am happy to be a part of Opera Prelude team and very grateful to Opera Prelude supporters for a grant I was awarded. It is an amazing help to me to be able to start making my website. It is very important for the professional musician to have a website to be able to promote and share the information about concerts and news. I am very often was asked about it after the concerts as people want to know more about me and my future engagements.. I am going to spend the money on development and a design of the website. I think it will make a huge impact on developing my career as a freelance musician. Thank you very much for your support.

Alberto Sousa

The grant given to me by OP allowed me to take part of the 2015 Zinka Milanov Voice Competition. Besides receiving very coherent feedback from the panel that has since shaped my studies and improved my performances, I have also established very useful connections with conductors and agents, which may lead to future work. This would have not been possible without the tireless support and dedication of this incredible charity.

Rosalind Coad

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of an anonymous donor we are proud to announce our first two Opera Prelude Bursary Award winners: Rosalind Coad and Callie Swarbrick.  2 further winners will be announced over the course of 2015 -2016.

I am writing to express my thanks for the grant which you have so kindly given me through Opera Prelude. As I'm sure you already know, building a career as an opera singer is a long and difficult road and young singers often require financial support. Your generosity will enable me to have the singing lessons and coachings necessary to continue my progress as an artist, as well as to go abroad for auditions and further tuition. These coachings and auditions are vital at the stage I am at and would not be possible without funds, so I am very grateful indeed for your help and support.

Callie Swarbrick

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of an anonymous donor we are proud to announce our first two Opera Prelude Bursary Award winners: Rosalind Coad and Callie Swarbrick.  2 further winners will be announced over the course of 2015 -2016.

Receiving this bursary is such a wonderful gift, and enables me to take on opportunities that would be prohibitively expensive otherwise. This includes being able to audition abroad, and make some much needed new recordings. It also helps support the continual need for lessons and coaching. I am so grateful and can’t say it enough: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Anna Harvey

I am so thankful to be awarded a grant from the Singer's Friends Fund at Opera Prelude, which will cover my accommodation and travel to the Dartington International Summer School in August, where I will be singing the roles of Marzia in Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica, led by Adrian Chandler and directed by Richard Williams, and Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, conducted by the esteemed Russian specialist Sian Edwards. The Summer School will be a brilliant opportunity to work with such knowledgeable musicians and to learn valuable opera roles which I hope to perform again in my future career, and the grant will allow me to do this without financial worry. Thank you so much for your support - I really appreciate it! 

Callie Swarbrick

I am absolutely thrilled to be awarded the Opera Prelude Song Prize, and to have a chance to work further with Della Jones. The Masterclass with her last month was extremely informative and I came away longing to get more of her input on my other arias - and now that’s feasible! Thank you very much for making this opportunity possible.

I had my first coaching with Della yesterday and it was fantastic - she’s very generous with her time, I was there nearly two hours!

I’m thrilled to be going to Vienna to study German this summer, the support from the Singer’s Fund means I can afford to spend the whole of August away on the course. I will be living in university halls in the city, and taking classes each morning. The afternoons will then be spent revising the language and of course trying it out! This will put me in a much better position for auditioning in Germany, and will greatly assist with my German repertoire. Thank you!


Ricardo Panela

Please accept my sincerest thanks for helping me buy my tailcoat set. These are essential for singers but fairly expensive and your precious help has allowed me to order a great set which will serve for years to come.  Thank you for being there for young singers and making a difference for us. You help is invaluable. 

Becca Marriott

My Opera Prelude Singers' Friends Fund grant is extremely meaningful to me as a recent college graduate, still finding my feet, trying to afford all the lessons and coachings that moving up in the opera world necessitates.  For every young singer, a huge, but key-step, is trying to enter the opera world in Europe.  This means not only perfecting the pronunciation of the European languages you sing in, but also being able to communicate with colleagues and potential employers abroad; especially in Germany.  A course of ten German lessons will be a big step towards transforming my German from broken and unusable, to conversational.  I am truly grateful to the Trustees and Opera Prelude supporters for giving me this chance, and have booked my first German lesson for next week! 

Adriana Festeu

Thank you so much for making this grant scheme possible. Thanks to your generosity I am able to complete a series of recordings at the Royal Academy of Music. These recordings represent the practical side of my PhD thesis and will be handed in alongside my written dissertation. Hopefully my thesis will be useful to other young singers who struggle with the same issues I did. I have worked so hard over the past 4 years to complete this academic project and I couldn’t have done it without your support; I am ever so grateful! 

Paola Cuffolo

I’m so grateful to the Singers’ Friends’ Fund for helping me to push my freelance career forward. Having good recordings is an essential part of getting more work, and having an excellent pianist is an essential part of a great recording! I would struggle to pay for this important element of my work without the Fund, thank you so much to all who have helped to create it…I know all of us at Opera Prelude are extremely indebted to you! 

Alex Haigh

Receiving a mini-grant from the Singers Friends Fund has been incredibly helpful. It will enable me to have 2 coaching sessions for Italian language work and technical development vocally. I have always tried to ensure I have the best teacher I can possibly afford; this grant enables me to seek out other people and get their opinions and advice, which is so useful. So a great giant thank you to you all for enabling me to continue with my development!

Mark Austin

Thank you very much indeed for the grant towards my Italian course at the British Institute of Florence. This is an invaluable stage of professional development for me because I spend a large amount of time working on opera in Italian. To have a strong grasp of the grammar of the language as well as its vocabulary and pronunciation gives me a real feel of authority when coaching singers and thinking about the drama. So far it's going very well! Only yesterday I found out that the words 'beltà' and 'beltade', meaning 'beauty', are poetic/archaic, and the modern equivalent is 'bellezza'... here is a nuance which I was previously unaware of, but obviously affects the sentiment of the text considerably.

I look forward to seeing you at a lecture in the future, and thank you and Fiona again for your support.

Phoebe Haines

I was so thrilled this week to find out that I have been awarded a grant from the Singer's Friends Fund at Opera Prelude. With their very generous support I will be able to take my study of the German Language very seriously in the coming months, and I know that with their backing I will come on leaps and bounds. I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderfully supportive organisation as Opera Prelude, which really does everything within its power to create a thriving artistic community.

Alex Otterburn

The award made to me by the Singers Friends Fund, covering the expenses of attending two training courses this summer, has taken a huge weight from my shoulders and for which I am extremely grateful. In July I will attend the Southrepps Music Festival young artists program, a week-long course run by English tenor Ben Johnson and pianist Thomas Primrose. In August I will be singing the title role in Eugene Onegin for Dartington International Summer School, performed in Russian with full orchestra and conducted by Sian Edwards. The experience and expertise I hope to gain from working with these musicians on my core repertoire will be invaluable for my future. Thanks to the Singers Friends Fund I can do so without financial worry.

If you would like to champion our work, there are a variety of ways in which you can do so now. Do get in touch – we would love to talk to you about any help you can give. Please telephone Fiona Hamilton on 07908894333 or email: contact@operaprelude.com

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Corporate Partnerships

We want to create long lasting associations with organisations and individuals who share our passion for opera and believe in helping the next generation of young singers develop their careers. Corporate Partners choosing to support Opera Prelude through major sponsorship of a series of lecture recitals or opera related events will have the opportunity of meeting a range of business development goals whilst engaging with discerning audiences. We are able to create bespoke opportunities for corporate involvement to meet your company’s client entertainment needs and philanthropic priorities including hosting lecture recitals and concerts in your offices.
Whatever your requirements, we would be delighted to discuss them further.

Trusts and Foundations

Opera Prelude seeks support from Trusts and Foundations for a range of events and projects planned throughout the year.