Engender ©2021 Phoebe Nightingale
Engender ©2021 Phoebe Nightingale


Engender is The Royal Opera’s initiative to change gender imbalance in opera and music theatre and drive towards gender equity in all areas of the opera field.

What we do

Engender aims to highlight and grow the wealth of women and non-binary talent both onstage and behind the scenes.

Engender is a place for women and non-binary people to connect and support each other, to amplify the work of women and non-binary people in opera and to have a collective voice. Engender provides space and opportunity for personal and professional development, peer support and the creation of new work.

Across the year Engender hosts conversations focussed on gender in opera and exploring the challenges to achieving equality.

We want to increase the gender diversity in the creative teams behind the work on our stages and increase the amount of opportunities for women and non-binary people both as artists and backstage, in production, administration and planning, and across all areas of business.

With support from the British Council, Engender is currently developing partnerships in South Africa and Egypt.

Engender Network

The Engender Network connects women and non-binary people in all roles of opera. Meetings take place every 6-8 weeks and there are over 400 members from the UK, Europe and worldwide.

The Network meetings are a space for peer support and exchange, developing creative relationships and cultivating new ideas. The meetings take various forms including skills labs and development webinars, member-led skill swaps, and member-led conversations with invited speakers.

Engender Network priorities

The Network decided the priorities for this Season are:

  1. Growing the network to include more voices, across roles, level of experiences and a broader geographical reach
  2. Developing a range of mentorship programmes
  3. Inclusivity and allyship
  4. Network member led ‘hosted conversations’ to better understand perspectives and challenges in key areas that need change.

This Season's topics will include:

  • Programming and Repertoire
  • End to all male creative teams
  • Progressing gender pay equity

Professional development opportunities

There are a range of professional development opportunities including:

  • training
  • mentorship
  • new work development

Further opportunities will be announced throughout the Season and will be detailed on this page. You can also join the network to receive emails about opportunities.

Engender x WE.GROW Mentorship programme

We have partnered with shesaidso to pilot a mentoring program for members of the Engender Network. The programme will:

  • facilitate access to women and gender minorities in the opera community
  • match skills and knowledge
  • provide a space to learn, develop and maximise potential

Our Network members are a brilliantly diverse group and we have built this mentorship with everyone in mind, from artists and performers to technical and production staff, producers and administrators, with the aim to empower both mentors and mentees.

We stand with shesaidso in the strong belief “in the power of mentorship and paying it forward. Our community thrives with each of our members’ successes. If you grow, we grow. That’s why we developed she.grows - to encourage our members to share information and resources with one another.”

About the mentorship programme

The pilot Mentorship Programme will run from October to December 2021.

We will match 6 mentees with 6 mentors from within the Engender Network.

Successful participants will:

  • Attend exclusive workshops
  • Get training and resources
  • Benefit from support from mentorship managers at ROH and shesaidso
  • Attend regular 1-to-1 meetings (online or in person) for a period of 3 months

Key dates:

  • Deadline for application: Monday 13 September 10am
  • Successful applicants informed: w/c 20 September 2021
  • Training: late September 2021
  • Mentoring start date: October 2021
  • Mentoring end date: December 2021
  • Evaluation: January 2022
Apply for Engender x WE.GROW mentorship

Submit your online application by Monday 13 September at 10am.

Applications are open to Engender Network members only. Sign up for Engender Network or email engendernetwork@roh.org.uk.

Research and Development Commissions for new work

We offer research and development commissions to creative teams of women and non-binary people. The commissions offer paid time and space for each creative team to work together alongside resource for mentorship and studio time with singers and musicians.

We offer research and development commissions to creative teams of women and non-binary people. The commissions offer paid time and space for each creative team to work together alongside resource for mentorship and studio time with singers and musicians.

The 21/22 Open Call will be in partnership with the British Council and Shubbak Festival. It will connect artists based in the UK, South Africa and SWANA regions.

This year, with the ongoing pandemic and international nature of this collaboration, the commission will be realised online and delivered in a digital format.

in consultation with our partners, this year we will nominate applicants. We currently plan to return to the open call format for the 22/23 Season.

Jette Parker Young Artists Programme writing opportunities

There are two writing opportunities in the 21/22 season for women and gender minorities:

  • Micro operas
  • Crush Room recitals
Royal Opera and Hosking House Trust: Librettist Residency

Established by Sarah Hosking, Hosking House Trust is a charity who support writers to have space to pursue their work without interruption. To date they have supported over 100 writers.

This partnership will offer mid-career and later career women and non-binary librettists or established theatre writers paid space and time to write libretto for opera or music theatre. These places will be supported with a mentor.

Two or three residences will be available across 2022 and 2023. More details and how to apply will be available in Spring 2022.

Women Conductors

Women Conductors is a training opportunity for emerging women conductors in opera and ballet led by the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. Find out more about the Women Conductors opportunity.

Previous Engender commissions

Previous artists who have received Engender research and development commissions to develop new work are:

  • Samantha Fernando and JL Williams
  • Melanie Wilson and Jessica Latowicki
  • Eve Harrison and Fiona Williams
  • Nadifa Mohammed and Nina Whiteman
  • Daisy Evans and Laura Bowler
  • Maria Fusco

Engender and Jette Parker Young Artists Programme Songs commissions:

  • Laura Attridge and Lille Harris
  • Anna Semple and Susannah Pearse

Annual festival

The annual Engender festival celebrates the work of women and non-binary people in opera and provides a platform for relevant discussions with audiences. The festival is centred around a women-led production in the Linbury Theatre. Alongside this production, there are open rehearsals of the Research and Development commissions, giving audiences the opportunity to see new work in the early stages. There are also Insights and conversations with leading opera makers and practitioners from the UK and abroad.

Engender Festival 2021
  • 13 Events
  • 28 performing artists
  • 7 speakers
  • 3 event captioners
  • 565 audience members
  • 9300 (and counting…) views of our Engender Insights

The next Engender Festival will be in July 2022.