S A R A H E S T I L L
S o p r a n o
Leeds born Sarah Estill read History at Keble College, Oxford, before graduating with Distinction with an MA in Performance from the University of Huddersfield. She furthered her studies gaining a MMus from the Opera School of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, spent a year on vocal scholarship at Dublin DIT Conservatoire of Music and took part in the inaugural performance of the Flanders Opera Studio. She studied for a further year at the Royal Northern College of Music as Winner of the Dame Eva Turner Award for Dramatic Sopranos and spent her final year of study in New York where she held a scholarship at Mannes College of Music in Manhattan on their Opera Course. She won the Prize for the most promising student at the Bayerische Staatsoper Sommerkurs in 1999 and was a finalist in both the 2003 Mastersingers Competition for Female Wagner Singers and the 2004 Bayreuth Bursary Competition. She is an alumnus of both the The Mastersingers Young Artist Programme and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, where she was recipient of the 2005 Joan Cross Commemorative Bursary. In 2007 she was a medal recipient at NDO's inaugural Jose Cura Opera Project. In 2011 she undertook specialist Wagner coaching at the National Opera Studio with David Syrus as part of the "Singers of Tomorrow" scheme. Sarah has sung for English National Opera and is currently a member of the full-time Chorus at Opera North in Leeds.
Already an established Britten singer, she has sung Lady Billows Albert Herring at the 2005 Britten Festival in Aldeburgh and at the RSAMD in 1999, Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw for Opera Parnassus, Malta, the War Requiem with Philip Langridge and David Wilson-Johnson in St Albans Abbey, and Female Chorus The Rape of Lucretia both at the Flanders Opera Studio and most recently in an historic production of The Rape of Lucretia at the Barn Theatre, Dartington Hall, the venue for which it was originally written. In 2005 she also covered Ellen Orford for Surrey Opera and was part of the Peter Grimes conducted by Simon Rattle at the Salzburg Festival with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Recently she has toured in the title role of Tosca and as Leonora in Il Trovatore with Opus1 Opera both in the UK and abroad and covered various roles for Opera North including the Witch/Mother in Hansel and Gretel, Olga The Merry Widow, Lisa The Portrait and Wellgunde Das Rhinegold. Her other operatic roles have included Ariadne Ariadne auf Naxos and Violetta La Traviata at the Dartington Festival, Donna Anna Don Giovanni at the RSAMD, Giannetta L'elisir d'amore for Opera Theatre Company (Ireland), Guadalena La périchole at Buxton Festival, Aida for Kentish Opera, Amelia A Masked Ball for Surrey Opera and the title-role in Suor Angelica with Opera Femina on tour and at the Buxton Festival. She made her debut in Wagner repertoire as Gutrune in Götterdämmerung in Edinburgh, followed by Helmwige in Die Walküre for The Mastersingers and Flower Maiden I Parsifal for Palace Opera and Eva Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Edinburgh. Along the Leeds based conductor Michael Williamson, she founded the Northern Wagner Orchestra and subsequently sang Woglinde/Freia Das Rheingold, Sieglinde Die Walküre, Brünnhilde Siegfried/Götterdämmerung as part of their four-year Ring Cycle at Leeds University followed by Isolde Tristan und Isolde in 2010 and she will sing Elisabeth Tannhäuser in September 2011. She has understudied Venus in Mozart Ascanio in Alba at the 2005 Buxton Festival, Tosca for Pavilion Opera, Mimi La Bohème for Opus1 Opera, Nedda I Pagliacci for English Pocket Opera and Rosalinde Die Fledermaus for English Touring Opera.
Her concert repertoire includes Berg Three Fragments from Wozzeck, Mahler Symphony No. 4, Elijah, Rossini Stabat Mater, Strauss Four Last Songs, Wagner Wesendonck Lieder, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde and the Verdi and Mozart Requiem and various Wagner excerpts. She also sang regularly as a soloist with the Londom International Orchestra and London Theatre Voices and is in much demand for concert work and cabaret. An experienced vocal and dramatic animateur, she continues to be involved with a number of projects on behalf of many companies including English National Opera, Opera North, Buxton and Grassington Festivals and English Pocket Opera. She is currently Education Advisor for Skipton Camerata and runs teacher training workshops on singing on behalf of the government "Sing-up" scheme. She has had a long standing relationship with Leeds based award-winning group Leeds Youth Opera, first as a performer and more recently as their Director.
Sarah has also directed various projects including Dido and Aeneas (Skipton Camerata), Suor Angelica (UK tour and Buxton Festival 2002) and Hansel and Gretel (Buxton Festival 2003), Smetana The Bartered Bride, Berlioz Beatrice and Benedick and Nicolai The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Marriage of Figaro for West Riding Opera; Faust and Eugene Onegin for Leeds Youth Opera and A Night in Paris for Opera on a Shoestring and The Fate of Young Lovers at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow. She was founder and Artistic Director of Opera Femina, the UK's first all-female opera company.
In May 2007 Sarah performed for HRH Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of The Media Centre in Huddersfield. She recently appeared on the BBC's The One Show where she smashed several glasses using her voice!