Isabelle Kettle in rehearsal for Susanna, The Royal Opera ©2020 ROH. Photograph by Lara Cappelli
Isabelle Kettle in rehearsal for Susanna, The Royal Opera ©2020 ROH. Photograph by Lara Cappelli

Engender

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

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.

How you can get involved

Engender is also proud to be participating in the Royal Opera House's International Women's Day 2021 celebrations. Find out more about our celebrations.

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 300 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.

If you would like to find out more information about the Network, or would like to join, please fill in this form or contact us using engendernetwork@roh.org.uk. You can also find us on LinkedIn.

Professional development

Engender encompasses a range of professional development opportunities including:

  • Women Conductors: a training opportunity for emerging women conductors in opera and ballet led by the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme
  • Diverse Directors: the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme works with a large cohort of stage directors to help them transfer their skills from theatre to opera and navigate the specific challenges of the art form

Find out more about opportunities with the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Developing new work

Research and Development Commissions

There is an open call for new work through the Engender programme. Each year, we offer three research and development commissions to creative teams of women and non-binary people to test and develop ideas. 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.

Previous artists who have received these research and development commissions include Samantha Fernando and JL Williams, Melanie Wilson and Jessica Latowicki and Eve Harrison and Fiona Williams.

On International Women's Day 2020 we announced our latest Engender research and development commissions from Nadifa Mohammed and Nina Whitman, Daisy Evans and Laura Bowler and Maria Fusco and Ailis Ni Riain. They have been working on their ideas over the past year and will be presenting them as part of the 2021 Engender Festival in July.

Due to the pandemic we will not be offering an open call in 2021. We look forward to announcing other opportunities soon.

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.

The 2021 Festival will take place from 12–17 July.