Wandsworth's National Opera Studio Launches Diverse Voices Talent Programme

Top soprano Natasha Agarwal becomes project ambassador

Soprano Natasha Agarwal.
Soprano Natasha Agarwal. Picture: natashaagarwal.co.uk

February 14, 2023

The Chapel Yard-based National Opera Studio has launched its Diverse Voices National Talent Programme, with the input of soprano Natasha Agarwal.

The studio has designed the programme to support talented British artists from backgrounds currently underrepresented in opera.

Natasha, who is acting as ambassador for the programme until June this year, said, "I am delighted to be joining the National Opera Studio and I’m very excited to co-curate and pilot this new programme, focusing on the development of diverse voices in the UK."

Led by theatre and opera director David Sulkin OBE and Patricia St Hilaire who has worked extensively for social change in the arts and business, Diverse Voices is a National Lottery funded project, supported by Arts Council England. It is a national programme designed to open doors for young people from diverse backgrounds to the possibilities and opportunities of a career in opera. “These young people will already enjoy singing and may have already decided that they’d like to take their singing to a new or different level,” said the programme’s organisers.

Ms Agarwal is a British Indian soprano born in Liverpool. She trained at the Royal Academy of Music after studying Maths at the University of Warwick, graduating with a First Class Hons BSc in Mathematics. After gaining a distinction in her MA in Vocal Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, Natasha furthered her singing career with a place on the Serena Fenwick Young Artist programme with the British Youth Opera.

The soprano’s 2021/22 season included the roles of Frasquita in Carmen (Opera Holland Park and Opera North), Neera in Migrations (Welsh National Opera), and Zora in Svadba (Waterperry Opera Festival). She also performed her first Mozart C Minor Mass (Soprano 1 soloist) with Coventry’s Spires Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra.

Natasha as Neera in MigrationsNatasha as Neera in Migrations. Picture: © Craig Fuller - Welsh National Opera, Migrations/natashaagarwal.co.uk

Natasha is “passionate about using music as a means to bring people together and help those in need”. She has performed a charity recital in Cambridge for the Association of Breast Surgery International Forum and has also undertaken several charity concerts in India. In London she has taken part in projects including community performances with the English National Opera at the V&A Museum and the Coliseum, music workshops on the children’s ward at the Royal London Hospital and also performed with the City Lit Percussion Orchestra for adults with learning disabilities.

During lockdown, she sang outside her building every Thursday evening to support the NHS and key workers, and to uplift the neighbours.

Natasha’s awards include the Charles Wood International Song Prize, the North London Festival Recital Prize, David Clover Singers’ Platform Recital Prize and she was awarded runner-up in the Lesley Garrett Opera Prize.

In addition Natasha is a trained dancer and is now an ambassador for All England Dance, a charity which supports growth and inclusion through dance for three to 21 year olds, having previously won their Young Dancer of the Year award. She is trained in ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz and classical Indian dance, and was a mid and senior associate of the Royal Ballet School.

The National Opera Studio is based in The Clore in Chapel Yard, just off Buckhold Road. The organisation explains that it “exists to train talented young musicians to become the leading artists of their generation. We aim to make a significant contribution to the opera ecology and the wider creative and cultural life of the UK”.

It was set up it 1977 by the Arts Council England to provide a link between music colleges and the main UK opera companies. It is funded in part by the six main UK opera companies – English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera – as well as the Arts Council England and various individuals, trusts and foundations.

Diverse Voices National Talent Programme is a pilot programme and will be developed over the coming months. If you would like to get in touch and find out more, email: diverse.voices@nationaloperastudio.org.uk.

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