Youth Company

2020 World Premiere

We are delighted to be co-commissioning, with Opera North, a new opera to be performed by our Youth Opera Company on Friday 31 July 2020. Based on Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant, the work will be written by John Barber (composer) and Jessica Duchen (librettist). Alongside two professional soloists, solo roles will also be given to members of the Youth Company. 

Open auditions will be held on Saturday 18 January 2020. To register your interest, please email


Download information for new applicants
Download the rehearsal schedule

Love art, design or stage management? For backstage opportunities (ages 13-21) within the Youth Company, please see the following information:

Download Art and Design information
Download Stage Management information

About the Youth Company

Artistic Director: Karen Gillingham
Vocal Director: Suzi Zumpe

Garsington Opera's Youth Company provides local young people aged 9-21 with the opportunity to develop their singing, creative skills, confidence and stage experience through the exciting world of opera. 

During annual Easter and summer workshops, young singers learn from world-class stage and music directors, leading up to a performance on the main stage for an invited audience at Wormsley.

In 2017 the Youth Company took part in the hugely successful world premiere of Silver Birch, performing three sold-out nights at Wormsley alongside international opera stars and the Foley Sound Design team from Pinewood Studios. Silver Birch was subsequently nominated for the International Opera Awards. In 2018 the Youth Company performed a new production of Eliza and the Swans, an opera by John Barber (composer) and Hazel Gould (librettist), on the main stage at Wormsley. In 2019 we were delighted to commission a brand new opera, The Happy Princess, written especially for our Youth Company by Paul Fincham (composer) and Jessica Duchen (librettist), based on Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince

Participation for Youth Company members is free of charge. 

Mailing list
If you would like to receive occational email updates about future auditions, projects and opportunities, please contact our Learning & Participation Producer, Judy Knowles

Creative Team

Karen Gillingham ​director
Karen is a freelance opera director, facilitator and creative director of Garsington Opera Learning & Participation. She recently directed A Trip to the Moon at LSO Barbican with Sir Simon Rattle, Silver Birch at Garsington Opera, Beautiful World at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre, and Hospital Passion Play at the V&A Museum. Karen trained as a director and performer at both Manchester Metropolitan University and on The Knack at English National Opera, and was co-artistic director of the Royal Opera House's Youth Opera Company for nine years. She has worked with all the major UK opera companies on productions including The Magic Flute (Garsington Opera at West Green House); Twenty Women Singing (a tour of women's prisons with Welsh National Opera) as well as large-scale community operas: South of the River (ENO) and Beached (Opera North). Other productions include Magna Carta - The Freedom Game (community opera at the Royal Albert Hall); Out of the Ruins (ROH) and the WorldSkills opening ceremony at the O2. 

Suzi Zumpe vocal director
Suzi is a vocal leader, coach and singer who specialises in teaching complicated material to a broad range of people, regardless of their previous musical experience. She regularly trains large groups - professional and non-professional alike, working with challenging repertoire and imparting good singing technique stealthily along the way. Comfortable with all ranges of expertise, she has worked with opera houses, with children, with the corporate sector, with conservatoires, with teenagers, with classroom teachers and with the homeless. Companies with whom she has recently worked include Garsington Opera, English National Opera, Music for Youth, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Opera House, Spitalfields Music Festival, Southbank Centre, Aurora Orchestra, the Stephen Petronio Company, Glyndebourne Opera and the London Symphony Orchestra. She is a founding partner of Better Performance, a corporate leadership development programme.