MA in Opera Making & Writing

Apply now
performers on set of opera makers

Key information:

Art form:
Application Fee: £123 GBP; Tuition Fees: See Fees section below
Apply by 26 March 2024 for September 2024 entry
Level of study:
Mode of study:

About the MA Opera Making & Writing programme

In association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

This Masters programme allows composers and writers to focus on how new opera is created, developed and performed. Part of an exciting partnership between Guildhall School and the Royal Opera House, the programme centres around the creation of a 25-minute chamber opera which is fully staged in Milton Court Studio Theatre. 

The programme admits three composers and three writers each year. During an initial induction module, students pair up into composer-writer teams. Each team develops a short opera scene, before going on to create full chamber operas. Two smaller projects allow you to follow your own creative pathway: in poetry, prose, dramatic or film script (writers), and in vocal or instrumental/ electronic works (composers). 

The programme focuses on the collaborative nature of opera making, and each composerwriter team is supported by collaborative mentoring. Students also take part in one-to-one tutorials, production seminars and creative development workshops. 

The programme is led by Julian Philips (Head of Composition) Stephen Plaice (Writer-in-Residence), Toby Young (Professor of Composition) and director and writer Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh. Teaching is enriched through regular seminars with visiting professionals from the opera world including conductors and directors, singers and instrumentalists, designers and stage managers

The programme collaborates closely with Guildhall’s award-winning Opera Department, led by Dominic Wheeler, with Guildhall opera singers forming the cast for the chamber operas created by composer-writer teams.

Practical experience of opera during the year is hugely augmented by the programme’s association with the Royal Opera House, which provides opportunities to see productions in rehearsal and performance, and to meet and network with key resident and visiting practitioners.

Watch the video

Find out more about the programme and hear from MA Opera Making & Writing staff and students in the video below.

Additional programme features include

  • One-to-one Principal Study tuition for both writers and composers
  • Regular mentoring sessions for the composer-writer creative teams from Drama Department professors
  • Weekly production seminars, with presentations from visiting writers, composers and directors
  • Two blocks of creative development time for composers and writers to workshop their new chamber operas as they develop
  • Observation of contemporary opera in rehearsal and production both on the main stage and in smaller spaces at the Royal Opera House
  • Performance opportunities for smaller-scale project work through the School’s Vocal Studies and Drama Departments
  • A professorial post of Writer-in-Residence, Stephen Plaice, appointed to lead the writing pathway, supporting and supervising writing students on the programme
  • Electives including Electro-Acoustic Music, Aesthetics, Research and Writing for Performance

Student success

In the nine years since its inception, graduates of the course have received commissions from the Royal Opera House, the National Opera Studio, Glyndebourne, Mahogany Opera Group, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Académie de Festival d’Aix-en- Provence, Danish National Opera, Casa das Música (Porto), Pittsburgh and Boston Festival Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Eden Project and many more.

Applications & Auditions

Find out more about how to apply online and the application deadline on our Apply to Guildhall page.

On occasion, we are able to consider applications submitted after the deadline. If you are interested in applying, please contact the Composition Department Manager.


Find out more about the audition requirements for MA Opera Making & Writing.