Summer course

For singers passionate about operatic music, OperaCoast gives privileged hands-on experience of taking part in a unique intensive opera course. You are invited to The Birley Centre, Eastbourne, UK, each year to explore one opera in one weekend. The project aims to bring together singers of different backgrounds and abilities from all over the world to learn about the psychology of opera, the skill of singing and acting, the connections between words and music and much, much more.

In 2016 between 22-24 July we will be working on the scenes of Puccini’s La Rondine (in English). The course fee is £175, students - £125, payable by application.

Non-singing partners and friends may like to come along for the weekend as observers and enjoy the many charms of Eastbourne, an elegant seaside resort within easy reach by train from London and the South Coast, and then come along and watch the performance of our team. OperaCoast gives anyone a perfect excuse for an operatic holiday.

Jewels from Venus

Monday, 25 January, 7.30pm
Kings Place, London
020 7520 1490

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Rachmaninov: reflections
By Sing Russian 2015

Saturday, 12 December, 7.30pm
Unitarian Church, Brighton
07821 761 728

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Friday, 18 December, 7.30pm
Pushkin House, London
020 7269 9770

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© 2011–2015 OperaCoast

OperaCoast: charity No 1160111
Joseph Peters Photography

by Mikhail Kvirch
Jewels from Venus

Fundraising recital by Venera Gimadieva and Roger Vignoles, presented by BBC Radio 3 Martin Handley

Venera Gimadieva, a young star of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, gives a dazzling charity recital featuring a collection of art songs by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Delibes, Faure and Barber. As one of the most talented lyric coloratura sopranos in Europe, this Russian opera singer is sought-after worldwide. Her illustrious career spans the globe - she has performed at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, Paris National Opera, Teatro Real and La Fenice, as well as opera houses in Russia, Germany, and China.

Roger Vignoles is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most distinguished musicians of today. He regularly partners the finest singers in major venues around the world and is regarded as a leading authority on the song repertoire. In the course of his distinguished career he has collaborated with such leading singers as Elisabeth Söderström, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Barbara Bonney, Kathleen Battle, Christine Brewer, Brigitte Fassbaender, Bernarda Fink, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Dame Felicity Lott, Mark Padmore, John Mark Ainsley, Roderick Williams, Joan Rodgers, Sarah Walker, Measha Brueggergosman and Kate Royal.

As a part of this performance, BBC Radio 3 presenter Martin Handley will be talking to Venera about her life and career. Martin studied at Cambridge before dedicating his career to conducting for Australian Opera, ENO, Danish Royal Opera, Grange Park, as well as working in Germany, France and the USA. He also did concert work with the BBC Concert Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. He can be heard regularly as a presenter both of live concerts and studio programmes on BBC Radio 3.

The members of the audience are invited to meet Venera at the bar after the concert.

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All proceedings from this recital will go towards funding educational programmes for classical music and opera run by OperaCoast. If you would like to join Venera and Roger in supporting classical music education in the UK, please donate as much or as little as you can.

Rachmaninov: reflections by Sing Russian

Sing Russian is our annual project designed to introduce non-Russian speaking professional singers to the diversity and beauty of Russian vocal repertoire.

Every year a few upcoming soloists are selected by OperaCoast to take part in this project. For many of them this is their first opportunity to work on Russian music. In preparation for the final performance, all singers receive specialised music and language coaching spread over two months, to help them to meet the stylistic and linguistic challenges of singing in Russian. The course is finalised with two pre-Christmas performances in association with Russian cultural centre in Sussex Kalinka and Pushkin House, the Russian cultural centre in London.

In 2015 Sing Russian presents Rachmaninov: reflections. The programme includes some of the most precious jewels of Russian song repertoire, such as Oh, do not sing to me again, Spring Waters, The Lilacs, I wait for thee and more, as well as excerpts from Rachmaninov’s letters and diaries.

Nicole Panizza, piano
Anastasia Witts, music and language coach
Adam Music, tenor
Hannah Poulsom, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Humphreys, baritone
Rhys Alun Thomas, bass
Hannah Sandison, soprano
Lianne Marie Birkett, soprano

In connection with this project, our specialised Sing Russian blog also provides help to every singer who would like to learn Russian vocal repertoire. There you will find free downloadable learning resources – transliterations of Russian text, word-to-word translations of arias and art songs, audio reading by a native speaker, information of the historic, literary and cultural background for Russian vocal pieces. You can order learning materials for a specific piece or book a coaching session –

Saturday, 12 December, 7.30pm
Unitarian Church, Brighton

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Friday, 18 December, 7.30pm
Pushkin House, London

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Gregory Rose
music director

Gregory Rose has a wide international experience of orchestral, operatic and choral conducting. He is Music Director of the Jupiter Orchestra, Jupiter Singers and Singcircle, and has conducted the London Philharmonic, St Petersburg Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestras, and orchestras and ensembles throughout Eastern and Western Europe. Gregory studied with Hans Jelinek, and later with Egon Wellesz, both former pupils of Arnold Schoenberg. He has appeared in festivals throughout Europe, including two BBC Proms. Gregory has recorded for many international television and radio stations, and has made highly acclaimed recordings for Chandos, Hyperion, Wergo, Continuum, Naxos, Da Capo and October Music. His recent compositions include a large-scale music-theatre piece, Danse macabre, which received enthusiastic reviews following its premiere in Tallinn, Estonia. His performance of Verdi’s Requiem in Sri Lanka in 2009 was attended by an audience of over 2,000. He is a professor of conducting and staff conductor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

Gregory Rose has conducted Toshio Hosokawa’s Vision of Lear (UK premiere), Cabaret, Berthold Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci (British stage premiere), Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, Nino Rota’s Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, a national tour of Bizet’s Carmen, Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha (British stage premiere), Stravinsky Rake’s Progress, Prokofiev’s Maddalena, Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, Jonathan Harvey’s Come, Stockhausen’s American Indian Songs, Paul Barker’s Wall, and A Ronne by Berio. He was Chorus Master for 1993 and 94 Wexford Festival Opera productions of Tchaikovsky’s Cherevichki, Ferdinand Hérold’s Zampa, Demon by Anton Rubinstein, La Bohème by Leoncavallo, and Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot, Harrison Birtwistle’s Masque of Orpheus, Act 2 (BBC), Kurt Weil’s Der Kuhhandel, and assistant conductor for Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphee, Satie’s Socrate and Weill’s Mahagonny.For Opera Coast: Verdi’s La Traviata, Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress, Tchaikovsky The Queen of Spades.

Christopher Cowell

Christopher Cowell’s work has taken him to Chicago Opera Theater for Semele, and Il Viaggio a Reims, to Danish National Opera for Il barbiere di Siviglia and to Århus Sommeropera for their productions of Elskovsdrikken and Cosi fan tutte. In Copenhagen he directed the inaugural production of the Copenhagen Opera Festival, Opera i Underverden, and Donizetti’s Rita, Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle, Offenbach’s Den Forvandlede Kat, La Grand’Tante and Il Campanello for Den Rullende Opera, of which he is Artistic Director.

2008 saw his main-house début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, directing a revival of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1995 he joined the team of directors at Glyndebourne. With their touring company he has directed La Traviata, Le Comte Ory and Rodelinda. During the Festival seasons he has assisted on The Second Mrs. Kong and The Queen of Spades. In subsequent years he worked on Lulu and Owen Wingrave. At English National Opera he has assisted on King Priam and at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on John Copley’s La Bohème. The Royal Opera House also commissioned a new translation and adaptation of La Cenerentola, which he directed in the Linbury Theatre in 2001.

Domestically, he has directed productions of Agrippina, Poro and Atalanta for the London Handel Festival, Rameau’s Acante et Céphise and Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snowmaiden for UCO, Cendrillon for the Royal Academy of Music. In the earlier part of his career he forged the beginning of a long-term association with Surrey Opera, for whom he has directed Hansel and Gretel, Faust, Die Fledermaus, Turandot and The Flying Dutchman and most recently the world première of Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s rediscovered opera, Thelma.

Nigel Foster

Nigel Foster is one of Britain’s leading accompanists. He has played for singers including Roderick Williams, Sarah Walker, Yvonne Kenny, Ailish Tynan, Louise Winter, Stephen Varcoe, Jeremy Huw Williams, James Gilchrist, Elizabeth Watts, Elizabeth Llewellyn, Ruby Hughes, Marcus Farnsworth, Anna Devin and Gillian Keith, and for instrumentalist including violinist Madeleine Mitchell. In his formative years he played for Graham Johnson’s Songmakers’ Almanac and with conductors including John Eliot Gardiner and Georg Solti, working with singers including Renee Fleming, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu.

Nigel is the founder, director and pianist of the London Song Festival, an annual event promoting the song repertoire. In addition to featuring internationally known artists, the Festival acts as a major showcase for young up-and-coming singers.

Nigel studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he won every prize and award available for piano accompaniment. His teachers have included Roger Vignoles, Graham Johnson and Iain Burnside.

Nigel has recorded several CDs of songs and anthologies. He is featured on the soundtrack of films including Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and L’Homme est une Femme comme les Autres starring Antoine de Caune. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and has appeared on television in several European countries. Nigel performs extensively abroad, having played in most European countries, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, the USA, Canada and South America.


Eastbourne, the UK’s sunniest place, is one of the best-looking of all English seaside resorts, with elegant stucco-fronted architecture and a beautifully preserved pier along its seafront beneath the towering cliff of Beachy Head. Within the town, the attractions include the sleek new Towner Contemporary Museum. Eastbourne is wonderfully placed for exploring the coast and downlands of the South Downs National Park.

Built by Eastbourne College and opened in autumn 2011, the Birley Centre is the latest addition to Eastbourne’s cultural quarter. This exciting performing arts centre makes the perfect venue for a weekend of learning opera! Its superb auditorium has excellent acoustics and seats up to 200.

The Birley Centre, 4 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EF.

A few minutes’ walk from the railway station (there is also a taxi rank outside station) and the town centre, the Birley Centre is next to the Towner Contemporary Art Gallery, Congress Theatre and Devonshire Park theatre.

By train: Trains from Victoria, London Bridge, or Gatwick Airport direct to Eastbourne. You can also use the First Capital Connect station from London St Pancras (change at East Croydon, Gatwick or Haywards Heath).

See on the map.

Get Involved

OperaCoast is an open project, which means that we are open to connections, suggestions, ideas, and, most importantly, to new people.

You can get involved in a few ways:


We are always in need a helpful pair of hands. If you have skills, which you think we might be able to use, whether it’s photography, marketing, creative writing or accountancy, we would be delighted to hear from you. And if you are a student or a recent graduate, we will be happy to provide you with some work experience and references. We also welcome people who would like to help us at our events or with our publicity.


If you agree that music is for everyone, if you appreciate our work and would like to be a part of our projects in the future please consider donating to OperaCoast. No help is too small!

You can donate:

  • via PayPal
  • via bank transfer:
    SORT 20-27-91
    account 83487970
    IBAN: GB13 BARC 20279183487970
    SWIFT: BARC GB22 (xxx)
  • or by cheque payable to OperaCoast and posted to 28 Mole Close, Stone Cross, Pevensey, BN24 5QB.

    OperaCoast also welcomes corporate sponsors. We offer an annual sponsorship scheme with several VIP benefits to our exclusive supporters.

    For any inquiries or to arrange a meeting, please contact Anastasia Witts at or call +44 (0) 7821 761 728.

Panizza bursary

OperaCoast is keen to support not only singers but upcoming instrumentalists as well. Funded by our trustee, a pianist and an academic Nicole Panizza, this bursary offers an opportunity to an apprentice repetiteur to participate in our summer opera course.

Working alongside our professional accompanist and under their mentoring, an apprentice is a vital part of our course, helping singers to prepare for the performance in the end of the course and learning to work specifically on opera accompaniment. The bursary covers participation in the course and accommodation in Eastbourne for the duration of the course.

If you would like to apply for Panizza bursary, please fill in the application form (Word, PDF) and email it to together with your CV. You will be asked to attend auditions on the 28th of May.


Only singers applying with a view to win a solo part are required to attend an audition. No auditioning is required for the chorus-only applications. The solo auditions for La Rondine will take place in London on Saturday, 28 May from 11:00, at the Austrian Cultural Forum. A time slot will be allocated to every singer.

Austrian Cultural Forum, London
28 Rutland Gate, London SW7 1PQ. See on the map.

Please bring two contrasting pieces of music, as least one of them should be an operatic aria.

Tel. for enquiries: +44 (0) 7821 761 728.

If you would like to make sure you don’t miss any information about our future projects, please sign up for our newsletter.


22-24 July 2016
Puccini La Rondine (in English)
Course fee £175, students - £125

Every OperaCoast applicant is guaranteed a place in the chorus but if you would like to be considered for a solo part you are required to attend an audition.

In our work we aim to accommodate all good voices and to give an opportunity to as many singers as possible. However, we are always limited by the material and the structure of the course. If you are not pleased with the results of the auditions you will be able to withdraw from the course. In this case your payment will be refunded minus £40 of a non-refundable administrative fee.

Please note that no refund will be possible starting from one month before the course commences.

To apply please download and fill in the application form (Word, PDF) and email it to Solo applicant should also attach their CV. If you are applying as a student, please attach a copy of your student card. Your application will only be complete if you have submitted your payment using one of the following methods:

  • via to
  • via bank transfer:
    SORT 20-27-91
    account 83487970
    IBAN: GB13 BARC 20279183487970
    SWIFT: BARC GB22 (xxx)
  • by cheque payable to OperaCoast and posted to 28 Mole Close, Stone Cross, Pevensey, BN24 5QB.


OperaCoast does not provide singers with accommodation. If you are taking part in our course you are expected to find accommodation independently. However, we are happy to recommend some of the friendliest and most welcoming places in Eastbourne within walking distance from our venue — the Birley Centre. When booking do mention that you are singing with OperaCoast.

The Guesthouse East — the 4-star, silver-rated guesthouse awarded 1st place in the The Independent’s Top 50 B&Bs. Self-catering accommodation with the option of bed and breakfast that is contemporary yet laid back, stylish yet comfortable.
7 minutes’ walk from the Birley Centre.
Carl and Sarah, +44 (0) 1323 722774.

The Sherwood — a classical late Victorian Town house, now operating as a family-run seaside guest accommodation. Situated on the seafront it offer excellent value and personal attention to all visitors.
5 minutes’ walk from the Birley Centre.
Jon and Karen, +44 (0) 1323 724002.

The Arden — a well presented 4-star quality guesthouse that aims to offer great value for money with first class personal service. Run by a family of choral singers and music lovers.
5 minutes’ walk from the Birley Centre.
Tracey and Ray, +44 (0) 1323 639639.

Gyves House guesthouse — an AA 4 star gold award Victorian guesthouse providing quality bed and breakfast. 30 metres from seafront, near the Pier. Delicious, healthy breakfasts and clean, comfortable, stylish en suite rooms. Free wifi. Highly rated. Ask for special OperaCoast offer when booking.
10 minutes’ walk along the seafront from the Birley Centre.
Andrew and Angela, +44 (0) 1323 721709.


28 Mole Close, Stone Cross
Pevensey, BN24 5QB
Tel. +44 (0)7821 761 728

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