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Artist Diploma in Opera

New for 2025, this bespoke one-year programme, delivered in collaboration with Scottish Opera, gives you the opportunity to appear in a production with a UK national company as the culmination of your studies. You will work with some of the world’s finest coaches in vocal technique and stagecraft, across a high-level programme of intensive learning designed to prepare you for professional success 

Overview

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This programme will not launch until September 2025.

We’re delighted to be working in collaboration with Scottish Opera to offer a new one-year programme that is responsive to the needs of singers focused on entering the professional world. 

Places on this programme will be offered on the basis of casting for a pre-decided production, which students will perform with Scottish Opera in both in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal and at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in 2026, as well as performing in an RCS production in our New Athenaeum Theatre. 

All applicants for the Artist Diploma are expected to hold a masters degree in vocal performance, with those who reach the final selection for entry to the programme auditioning for an expert panel supported by the Scottish Opera casting team.  

Artists on this programme will study within the Alexandra Gibson Opera School, led by Head of Opera, Philip White. The school is also supported by the Head of Vocal Performance and Opera lecturers, Mark Hathaway and Duncan Williams. 

The RCS Opera and Vocal Performance Departments are made up of experienced and distinguished teachers and practitioners, and a wide range of visiting coaches, conductors, directors and guest artists who will provide a constant source of external stimuli to support your learning.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
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International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
/

Institution Code:
R58

Programme Code:
/

Audition Fee:
/

Application Fee:
£28.50


Why Study the Artist Diploma in Opera at RCS?

The coming together of one of the UK’s award-winning national opera companies with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland provides a unique, high-level student experience that is unparalleled in the United Kingdom. The new Artist Diploma course seeks to address the ever-changing landscape of the operatic world in providing the very best training, taking advantage of world-class facilities within a world-class institution for those on the cusp of entering the industry as working artists.

An opera singing is holding a note. They are wearing a fur coat and looking off-camera.

Unique training


We offer emerging artists a unique finishing school opportunity within the UK at one of the top ten Conservatoires in the world (QS World Rankings 2024).

A group of opera singers are performing on stage.

Work with Scottish Opera


This course will give you the chance to work with Scotland’s largest performing arts company in both Glasgow and Edinburgh (typically, at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow and the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh)

The cast of Cendrillon performing on stage.

Gain professional insight


Work alongside the music staff and The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and benefit from professional industry insight.

Sunyoung Seo and Roland Wood in the Dress Rehearsal of Il Tabarro.

Bespoke approach to musicianship


Receive specialist training and teaching, tailored to your voice, based upon your casting in the Scottish Opera final production.

Dame Janet Baker is speaking to a student in front of a piano. A pianist looks on.

Learn from the best


Work alongside the highest coaches in vocal technique and stagecraft in the UK.  Recent Opera and Vocal Studies students have had masterclasses from Dame Janet Baker, Sir Simon Keenlyside, Karen Cargill, Professor Susan McCulloch, Nicky Spence and more…

A person wearing a red and white dress dances on a table. Three other people are holding hands and dancing in the background.

Expand your network


Gain access to both the UK and European industry through networking and connections provided by our collaboration with Scottish Opera.

Two opera singers performing on stage. They are dancing in an embrace.

Performance opportunities


Develop your skills as a performer and professional within the industry through participation in two bespoke opera productions, on the stage of RCS and of Scottish Opera, working with the music team and The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Scotland’s national opera company.

A person with blonde hair is dancing, they have their back to the camera. Musicians are performing in front of them.

Prepare for the profession


Unlock high-level conservatoire training and opportunities to prepare you for your professional career on the world opera scene.

Meet the Staff

  • Head of Opera

    Philip White
  • Lecturer in Acting

    Mark Hathaway
  • Vocal Coach

    Duncan Williams
  • Vocal Tutors

    Stephen Robertson
    Scott Johnson
    Helen Lawson, ARCM (Hons)
    Wilma MacDougall
    Elizabeth McCormack
    Kathleen McKellar Ferguson
    Linda Ormiston
    Iain Paton
    Clare Shearer
    Julian Tovey
    Jane Irwin
  • Coaches

    Seann Alderking

    Joyce Fieldsend

    David Gowland

    Fiona MacSherry

    Steven Maughan

    Patricia MacMahon

    Anthony Legge

    Ingrid Surgenor

    Dylan Perez

    David Doidge

    David Cowan

  • Language Coaches - French

    Héloïse Bernard

    Sonja Nerdrum

  • Language Coaches - Italian

    Geoffrey Tanti

    Matteo Dalle Fratte

  • Language Coaches - German

    Helen Lawson, ARCM (Hons)

    Gerhard Gall

    Katia Riek

Scottish Opera

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scottish Opera, Scotland’s national opera company and the largest performing arts organisation in the country. This programme will allow emerging artists to work with the highest coaches in vocal technique and stagecraft in the UK and participate in two bespoke opera productions, one at RCS and the other with Scottish Opera, both in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Scottish Opera Website

Catriona Hewitson and Lawrence Zazzo in the Scottish Opera production of 'A Midsummer Nights Dream'. Actors stand on a podium. They wear drab clothing and hold bright purple balloons.

Graduate Destinations

Since the inception of the RCS Opera department in 1994, students have come from all over the world to study in Glasgow and, of course, many have since forged international careers and are therefore now to be found singing on the international opera stage. The most common immediate destinations are: 

  • Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Programme 
  • Opera Studios/Young Artist Programmes in Europe (Strasbourg, Berlin, Zurich, Munich) 
  • Equivalent UK-based destinations ie The National Opera Studio/Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden 

Recent graduates have been offered places on the Covent Garden Jette Parker scheme, the National Opera Studio, the Welsh International Academy of Voice, the International Opera Studio Staatsoper Berlin, the Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project, Opera Studio Bregenz Festival, the Verbier Academy, as well as contracts in fully professional houses including the Royal Opera House, Staatsoper Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Welsh National Opera and Den Norske Opera. 

Alumni include:

  • Ross Cumming (Baritone, MMus Class of 2023) – Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2023/24 
  • Lea Shaw (Mezzo-soprano, MMus Class of 2021) – Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2023/24  
  • Multiple graduates have been involved in the Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme, including Arthur Bruce, Mark Nathan and Charlie Drummond. 
  • Lauren Young (Mezzo-soprano, MMus Class of 2021) – Lauren recently performed in English National Opera’s production of A Handmaid’s Tale and will be performing in The Rake’s Progress on tour with ENO. 
  • Svetlina Stoyanova (Mezzo-soprano, MMus Class of 2018) – Winner of the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in 2017 and was named a Forbes Bulgaria “30 under 30” in 2019. 
  • Catriona Morison (Mezzo-soprano, MMus Class of 2013) – Cardiff Singer of the World Main Prize and Joint Song Prize winner in 2017. 
  • Anush Hovhannisyan (soprano, MMus Class of 2013) – recently performed as Violetta in La traviata at the Royal Danish Opera.
A group of opera singers performing on stage. One is holding flowers while the others are throwing petals on to them.

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

Candidates for the Artist Diploma in Opera are normally expected to hold an existing Masters degree in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme, or its overseas equivalent.

English language requirements

The language of study is English. Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Level 6.0 (with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component) is required of applicants to the School of Music.

Non-standard entry 

We welcome applications from individuals whose academic qualifications do not match or fall short of the normal entrance requirements.


Fees & Funding

Tuition fees

This course is due to start in September 2025 – tuition fees will be available here once the course is open for applications.

Funding & Scholarships

You can find out about the funding and scholarships available for studying at RCS by visiting our dedicated page:

Funding & Scholarships

Cost of Living & Programme Costs

In addition to tuition fees, it is estimated that you will need between £11,200 and £15,300 per year to live in Glasgow, plus programme costs. Much will depend on your lifestyle and whether your course runs for three or four terms. 

Programmes within the School of Music have a range of associated costs related to the specific activities required and advised by the programme team. You can find an indication of these costs below: 

School of Music Programme Costs


How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system. If you wish to apply to conservatoires and universities within UCAS, you will need to register for both services.  

You can read our guidance about using UCAS Conservatoires on our dedicated how to apply page. 

We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2025, you must apply next year. 

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58.

The closing date for on-time applications for both UK and International applicants is not yet confirmed.  If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your application will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications.

Application/Audition fees

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £27.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition assessment administration fee. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £65 for this programme.

We recognise that auditioning and interviewing for conservatoires, drama and ballet schools can be costly. The audition assessment administration fee charge allows us to offer a thorough and positive experience to all applicants and we encourage you to get in touch to ask the panel questions and find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to see if it is the best place for you.

Policy

We have a number of policies and statements which you should read when applying to study at the Royal Conservatoire.

Please select the links below to read each policy.

References

It is your responsibility to ask two separate referees to write references and ensure that these are sent to RCS.

The references must be written by two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. You can submit your UCAS Conservatoires application form and send your references at a later date, but they must be received prior to your audition date.

UCAS Conservatoires provides reference forms for you to download and send to your referees for completion.

Selection process

Applicants for this programme will be selected on the basis of casting. The titles of the two Opera productions will be made known to candidates ahead of the application deadline.

Applicants are selected first and foremost on the basis of merit and potential. However, due attention is also paid to the range of Principal Studies accepted in order to ensure the optimum experience for each student and to sustain the critical mass required for curricular activities, such as the symphony orchestra and choral activities. 

Please note that the Conservatoire is obliged to offer one audition date per application. If you are unable to submit your application/audition recording by the deadline date above, you must email us immediately stating the reason. We have a specific period allocation to audition and all on time applications will receive a decision before Christmas. If your audition recording is delayed, there is a risk that places will already have been taken and your application may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation. 

Audition Information

All auditions are planned to take place in-person at our campus in Glasgow in November 2024.  Should you apply on time, you will be e-mailed directly with details of your audition date and time, and your UCAS Conservatoires track will be updated with this information.  The audition panel will consist of both RCS staff as well as members of the casting department of Scottish Opera.

International applicants are welcome to submit a recorded submission via Acceptd. 

Recording Guidelines: 

  • When setting up for your video recording, your body (typically, from about the waist up) and instrument should be the focal point of the frame. The committee wants to be able to see not just your face but how well you navigate your instrument. 
  • The video recording should be provided in ONE continuous shot without separate tracks for different musical pieces. 
  • Please begin the recording by introducing yourself to camera and stating what you will be performing. You can take a little time between pieces so long as your body must remain in the frame. 
  • For any pieces that were written for your instrument and piano accompaniment, you are encouraged to perform with piano accompaniment (whether live or pre-recorded) if practical for you. Be assured, however, that if this is not possible for you, then you will not be disadvantaged in any way. 

For more information on recording a video audition, Guitar Lecturer Matthew McCallister reveals his top tips on recording your music audition online: 

Through audition, applicants will be required to demonstrate: 

  • a high degree of technical competency on the instrument or voice in the service of specific repertoire 
  • an ability to demonstrate a considerable degree of understanding of the repertoire performed
  • an ability to perform specific repertoire convincingly 
  • a considerable degree of self-confidence and creativity with respect to the repertoire performed 
  • a degree of self-sufficiency, initiative and independence in selecting, preparing and performing a particular programme 
  • a developing musical personality 

An interview, if held, will assess the candidate’s suitability for the programme in terms of knowledge, experience and commitment. 

Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition/recorded submission will be updated in due course.

More from the Opera Department

Why RCS?

We are the only place in Europe where you can study all of the performing arts on the one campus. There is a distinctive creative energy at RCS and you’ll be made to feel part of our inclusive and diverse environment from the very beginning of your studies.

Our graduates are resourceful, highly employable and members of a dynamic community of artists who make a significant impact across the globe.

At RCS, students develop not just their art but their power to use it.

Find out more 

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World Top Ten


We were voted one of the world’s Top Ten destinations to study the performing arts (QS Rankings) in 2024, the eighth time we have been placed in the top ten since the ranking was established in 2016.