20 Mar 2020

Royal Academy of Music appoints Brenda Hurley as Head of Opera

The Royal Academy of Music today announced Brenda Hurley as its new Head of Opera, effective July 2020.

Brenda Hurley has been the Director of the prestigious International Opera Studio (IOS) in Zürich since 2012. During her tenure, she has elevated the IOS to become one of the leading young artist programmes, and singers, including many Academy alumni, have gone on to perform in some of the world’s finest opera houses.

Before her time with Zurich, Hurley coached singers for four seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, nine years at the Salzburg Festival, 15 seasons at Glyndebourne Festival (where she was awarded the Janni Strasser Award for best repetitieur in 1995) and three seasons at English National Opera. She has worked with a host of leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davis, Yannick Nézet-Seguin and Valery Gergiev.

Hurley’s experience of coaching young singers is extensive. As a coach she has worked with programmes including the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne’s Jerwood Young Artist Programme, the National Opera Studio in London, the Dutch National Opera Studio Amsterdam, the New National Theatre Programme in Tokyo, the Sempeoper Dresden and the Young Artist Programme at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Royal Academy Opera (RAO) functions as a small opera company and a bridge to the profession, preparing exceptionally talented opera singers for careers on the world's most prestigious stages. Its highly focused study environment includes one-to-one tuition, coaching, group classes and opera scenes, as well as fully staged productions that are regularly attended by representatives from opera companies, artist agencies and the national press. Hurley’s first production with Royal Academy Opera will be announced in May.

Our outstanding in-house teachers and coaches are joined by pre-eminent visiting artists such as Sir Simon Keenlyside and Ermonela Jaho, heads of young artist programmes such as David Gowland (Jette Parker Young Artists Programme) and members of staff from Glyndebourne and Garsington. Recent visiting alumni have included Dame Felicity Lott, Brindley Sherratt, Allan Clayton, Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe.

Students benefit from acting and movement classes, language coaching and classes in many other areas of professional development, from audition preparation to CV and biography support, fight classes and a stress management workshop.

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said:

‘I am thrilled that Brenda Hurley is joining the Royal Academy of Music at the new Head of Royal Academy Opera. She is hugely respected as one of the finest opera coaches, leaders and mentors to talented young singers all over the world.

‘In her capacity as a visionary Director of the IOS in Zürich, Brenda has forged an extraordinarily rounded and supportive educational environment in which young artists thrive. It’s been a joy to observe how ex-RAO students have developed under her guidance in the Opernhaus Zürich, and the prospect of her arrival as a colleague at the Academy is extremely exciting.

‘I look forward to seeing RAO continue to go from strength to strength with Brenda at the helm.’