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 8 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.


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.



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.




There are no two things closer to John’s heart than opera and engaging young people in music-making, so he relishes the opportunity to work with LYOs, and bring works like ARC23 to the stage.

John studied musicology at undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Leeds and has since worked with many of West Yorkshire’s local ensembles as a conductor, musical director, violinist, choral singer, arranger and composer. He currently works full time for Sheffield City Council’s music education service, conducts the Leeds Camerata which he founded, and conducts Leeds Symphony Orchestra, alongside his role as Music Director for Leeds Youth Opera. 



Rosie has worked with Leeds Youth Opera for nearly three years, and she is thrilled to be directing the world premiere of ARC23 for the company’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

She studied MA Opera Directing at RWCMD and has worked as an assistant director with Welsh National Opera, British Youth Opera, Northern Opera Group, and Cumbria Opera Group. She has also undertaken observerships at the Royal Opera House, Opera North, and Birmingham Opera Company. Rosie first worked with Leeds Youth Opera in 2019, assisting on their production of Don Giovanni.



Jonathan is a freelance musician based in Leeds. He has been involved with Leeds Youth Opera in various roles since the 2015-2016 season and was the Music Director of the Leeds Gilbert and Sullivan Society from 2016-2019. 

Jonathan has worked as an accompanist with Northern Ballet since 2017, as a freelance education repetiteur with Opera North since 2016, and was the repetiteur for several operas with the West Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra from 2018-2020.


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:


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.