Leeds Youth Opera offers young people in Leeds a unique opportunity to work with industry professionals on fully staged productions whilst learning about many forms of serious musical theatre.

We do this in an environment designed to nurture our members.  Those newest may seem to have the most to learn, but we know all up to and including the most experienced in our group want the support to develop as musicians and performers.

Founded in 1971, LYO has been delighting audiences for almost 50 years. The company normally performs two works per year, in February and July.  Past shows range from the classics of Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi, through modern works by Phillip Glass, to the musical theatre classics of Sondheim and Bernstein.

Members are aged between 12 and 25 on joining, but existing members can stay with us until they are 29. Rehearsals are every Saturday 9.30am-12pm and principals are called according to a rehearsal schedule in the afternoon 1pm-3pm. We also rehearse on Friday evenings in the run up to the show.

LYO isn’t just for singers – we cater for young people with an interest in the other elements of staging a show, from playing in the orchestra to stage management, set construction to costume design. If you’d like to get involved in any way – don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Find out more about joining LYO.


Productions are led by contracted professionals.  We have been fortunate to work with a range of experienced directors, conductors, and répétiteur. Over the next few seasons we will be engaging a number of Guest Directors to come and stage our shows.
Each bringing different experiences and perspectives on opera and operetta.


John Lyon is a conductor and passionate music educator based between Leeds and Sheffield.  He is a graduate and postgraduate of music of The University of Leeds, and has continuted to be immersed in the West Yorkshire Music scene.

John brings experience beyond that of fine conductor, he is also a violinist, composer, orchestrator, choral singer, musical researcher.

Upcoming projects include: conductor for an upcoming cross-platform videogame, a guest conductor for the Leeds Symphony Orchestra, a leader for chamber orchestra, an educator for Opera North’s excellent In Harmony programme, and now an educator for the Sheffield Music hub.

John is extremely passionate about opera, having studied with Dr Martin Pickard of Opera North and based his master’s degree around the subject of opera translation. Needless to say, John is absolutely thrilled to join the LYO team for such a stunning opera as Don Giovanni and can’t wait to see the heights that can be reached with LYO’s consistently outstanding company.


Rosie is a young and vibrant opera director based in Birmingham. She will graduate from the University of Birmingham in July with a degree in Drama with English Literature. 

While living in Birmingham, Rosie directed productions such asThe Gondoliers for the University Gilbert and Sullivan society and Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the Barber Institute. Her last production in Birmingham will be The Mikado in May 2020 which she has set in a dystopian 1984-style country called Leanne. 

Rosie is also the Artistic Director of Squillo Opera Company. Highlights include Donizetti’s Rita and ‘He do the police in different voices’ after T.S. Eliot. Following the success of these productions, Rosie assisted Keith Warner on Scoring A Century at British Youth Opera in Summer 2019.  

She started working with Leeds Youth Opera as Assistant Director to Austin Gunn on our production of Don Giovanni which we performed in early 2020. She frequently works with Austin’s company Rocket Opera as a stage manager, assistant director, and singer. Rosie was awarded an ATCL diploma in singing in 2017.


In September, Rosie will be moving to Cardiff to start studying an MA in Opera Directing at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with ENO director Martin Constantine.


Rosie is delighted to be returning to LYO to direct The Enchanted Pig, which will be fun, colourful and a bit crazy!


Are you interested in being part of our production team in the future?  Perhaps assisting our producer or musical director, or maybe looking to take on the full role yourself  Why not get in touch:


Leeds Youth Opera originated from a one-off production by Welsh National Opera.  A group of Leeds-based teenagers were brought together for their touring production of Carmen.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed it and their parents recognised the value in the experience. So, in 1971 Leeds Youth Opera made its formal tentative beginnings.

At first, we kept things appropriately simple tackling only works written especially for children but over the next decade our ambitions grew and by the 1980s we were staging mainstream operas from a full professional repertoire.

Over the decades and over the course of over 100 productions our repertoire has broadened further, while staying firmly tethered to opera.  We have tackled traditional classical repertoire from Mozart, to Verdi, to Bizet.  We have explored thought-provoking modern musicals (all opera-like in form) of Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.  We have taken on the challenges of modern masterpieces from Benjamin Britten and Phillip Glass.

We have also been honoured to deliver lesser-seen works.  In fact we have had the honour to premier a few productions to the UK.  These include:

1997 – Modern Premier of Gianni da Calais by Gaetano Donizetti

1998 – British Premier of Satyagraha by Phillip Glass

2004 – British Premier of The Voyage by Phillip Glass.

2008 – World Stage Premier of The Nightingale And The Rose by Oliver Rudland.

2009 – European Premier of Appomattox by Phillip Glass.


Anyone who spends a good few years with Leeds Youth Opera leaves with an incomparable education in Opera.


LYO is a registered charity (number 1139608)
LYO is a limited company (Companies House Registration Number is 07302032) and is managed by a small but dedicated committee of trustees.

LYO is one of over 20 City of Leeds Youth Music (CLYM) groups under the umbrella of ArtForms (part of Leeds City Council Children’s Services).
LYO is a member of the Leeds Community Arts Network (LCAN).