S A R A H E S T I L L
S o p r a n o
Opera Femina is an exciting new project formed in 2001. The organisation was founded by soprano Sarah Estill and mezzo Angela Fuller, as the UK's first all-female opera group. The world of opera is dominated by male conductors and directors with many operas containing more roles for men, with central female characters often drawn as victims. As the majority of professional singers are women, this greatly reduces the opportunities open to them. It was felt that a group focusing on women in opera would provide an interesting angle for re-evaluating our view of the medium, whilst also providing a platform for young professional female singers and musicians. Opera Femina will continue to perform all-female or female dominated works, themed concerts and operatic workshops with a view to promoting women in opera.
Opera Femina was launched in 2001 with a tour of Puccini's opera Suor Angelica in a modern setting. This short, all-female opera, sung in a new English translation, has been adapted for touring and is accompanied by piano and organ, ideal for church venues and making it infinitely more accessible to the general public. The Opera Femina made its debut at the prestigious Buxton Opera Festival with this production in July 2002, and subsequently at Grassington, Saltaire and Guildford Festivals.
More recent projects have included Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel for both full performance and educational workshops, including a joint production with Buxton Festival and a performance at Grassington Festival. In our future plans we would like to include Stravinsky's Mavra, Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, a variety of themed operatic evenings, and a possible contemporary operatic commission.
Response to this exciting new venture has been very positive and it is hoped Opera Femina may continue to provide high quality performances by talented young women to as diverse and widespread an audience as possible.
Interested in Opera Femina?
- "Opera Femina's production of Puccini's Suor Angelica (Sister Angelius) proved one of the gems of the ongoing Buxton Festival yesterday....undoubtedly this was opera in miniature that triumphed" Eric Snape, The Sentinel, 17/07/02
- "Opera Femina must have come as close as any star-studded cast in realising the poignancy of Puccini's little one-act tearjerker, Suor Angelica"
David Denton, Yorkshire Post, 12th July 2002
- "Even in the traditionally talent-saturated world of the professional opera singer an imbalance is beginning to be noticed: there are now more women than men competing for, in the case of most operas, far fewer parts. Opera Femina is an attempt to redress the balance. Founded by two young singers, Sarah Estill and Angela Fuller, the company seeks both to increase the number of opportunities available to young female professional singers, and to break the male dominance which still tends to exist in areas such as direction and conducting - cast, conductor and accompanist are all women....For the audience at Opera Femina's inaugural performance in Keble College Chapel on Saturday night was treated to superb performances from all the cast" Matthew Rogers, Oxford Daily Information, 5th May 2001
If you are interested in what we do and would like to discuss the possibilities of including a performance by Opera Femina at an event you are planning, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Casting is usually by invite but we do occasionally hold auditions. However there are no plans for open auditions in the near future.
Contact Opera Femina
Sarah Estill, Artistic Director:
Or by post to the address in the British Music Yearbook or the address on this website.