2018/19 Season Announcement

We've just announced OperaUpClose's 2018/19 season, it's really very exciting indeed (if we do say so ourselves).



This September, we bring two ferocious Tudor Queens to the stage in our new English version of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda. Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I go head-to-head in this historical tragedy, culminating in a fictitious meeting between the rival queens which sizzles with vocal fireworks.

Performing in concert-style, Donizetti's riveting opera will tour to Tudor and Elizabethan National Trust properties, for a unique blend of heritage and music, and out-of-hours access to these historical houses. Look out for performances at: Sutton House (Hackney), Osterley Park and House (Isleworth) and Canon's Ashby (Northamptonshire), to name a few... 

Tickets will be on sale at the end of May to OperaUpClose's Supporters, before the general public. Join our lovely Supporters now to get access to Priority Booking. 



One of the best-loved operas of all time, Madam Butterfly’s glorious music and tragic heroine have enchanted audiences for more than a century. This summer, we'll be running a week of Research and Development, with the intention to re-imagine Puccini's masterpiece from a female, East-Asian led creative team, performed by a diverse-led cast of talented singers and musicians. 
The production will open at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on 24 January 2019 followed by an extensive UK tour, including a four-week run at East London's Arcola Theatre from Wed 6 Feb - Sat 2 Mar.

Become a Supporter of OperaUpClose to receive Priority Booking, exclusive post-show drinks & Q&As, invitations to behind-the-scenes rehearsals, and more*. Public booking opens soon, so keep an eye on your inbox. 

*Yes, more! You could steal our Artistic Director away for lunch or meet the cast for drinks after a show... the possibilities are endless, find out more here www.operaupclose.com/friends


We're thrilled to be writing a new opera for 3-5 year olds based on Jill Murphy's much-loved picture book, Peace At Last. This autumn, you'll find our team in the classrooms of Gallion's Primary School in Newham, where we'll be working with the children to develop the opera together through fun music-filled workshops. 

The opera will premiere at Gallion's Primary School in 2019 followed by a UK tour to schools and theatres.

What a season! Not only are we doing all of the above but we're also continuing to tour our 2017 productions of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Mozart's The Magic Flute; and we've got a new fully-staged production for solo soprano in the pipeline, which we'll be touring extensively to some of the smaller theatres for which our more recent shows are too big (Psst! Doesn't it sound perfect for private parties and corporate events? Email indyana@operaupclose.com if you'd like to know more!). 

Why We Pay Our Trainees

By Indyana Schneider

2018 has seen a crackdown on unpaid internships. Following information gathered and published by the Sutton Trust earlier this year, articles have been published by The Guardian, BBC, and Telegraph spreading. the. word. Unpaid internships take advantage of those who do them, benefit the privileged, and rule out diverse talent.

Some stats:

  • The number of internships available in the UK has risen by as much as 50% since 2010
  • Around 50-70,000 internships are now offered each year in the UK
  • Between 10-15,000 of these were estimated by the government to be unpaid
    (This is likely underestimated as interns don’t appear on the payroll systems of companies, which makes it v difficult to know the exact number)
  • The cost of a single person doing an unpaid internship in London has been calculated at £1,019 (£827 in Manchester, for reference)

Something isn’t right here.

The big papers are confronting exploitative or unaware corporations, double underlining the simple fact that employers are legally obliged to pay at least the National Minimum Wage to interns. Despite tens of thousands of people continuing to work for free, at the end of 2017 there were no prosecutions in relation to interns and pay. Waters are murky because the definition of an 'employee' is murky – they know they don’t have to come into the office, right? Campaigners are looking to tighten this ‘volunteer loophole’, calling on the government to make it easier to identify how roles should be categorised.

However, unpaid work is legal if the worker: is under 16, a student working as part of their course, or is working for a charity and getting paid ‘expenses’. A lot of arts companies are registered charities (for good reason!), the majority of which offer unpaid internships.
This is worrying.

Like many other sectors, internships are a vital first step into a career as an Arts Professional. These days, the competition for full-time, paid opportunities is so intense that prospective employers expect even entry level candidates to have significant industry experience. A Catch 22 situation leaves many unable to get a job due to lack of experience and unable to gain experience because they cannot afford to work for free. We’re left with a pretty bleak picture of an arts industry unavailable to those without access to external support, damaging the sector and limiting social mobility.
This is backed up by some more stats (CREATE 2015):

  • A survey of more than 2,500 people working in the arts found that 75% had at least one parent in a “middle class” job
  • More than half had at least one parent with a university education
  • 88% of respondents also said that they had worked for free at some point in their careers


A primary concern of OperaUpClose is to diversify the audience and makers of opera, which will result in the most exciting, resilient and relevant art form for the future. Our paid trainee Producer and Director schemes aim to address the above-described cycle of economic discrimination. The trainees are offered valuable experience in a professional producing opera company, mentoring from experienced arts professionals, the opportunity to take responsibility for projects, to make mistakes in a supportive environment, to learn from those mistakes, and to make key contacts in the performing arts industry. Vitally, our trainees are paid at London Living Wage and 100% of our 20+ former trainees are currently employed. If you're an aspiring arts professional, keep a lookout for our trainee openings!

I’m looking forward to a future when all unpaid internships are scrapped completely, where the definition of an 'employee' is crystal clear, and all are paid and valued for their work and time. I'm proud to say we're already doing this here at OperaUpClose.

You can support our traineeship schemes by becoming a Supporter of OperaUpClose or by emailing indyana@operaupclose.com to find out more. 

Efficient Giving

By Indyana Schneider

I’ll start by saying this post is less artistically focused than usual, but hopefully informative all the same.
No I won’t. It’s never good to start with a disclaimer. Let’s try again.

I’ll start with some fun facts:

  1. Most people (61%) have donated to charity in the last year
  2. 17% of all donations in 2016 were made using a mobile device
  3. The top 20 countries for charitable giving vary economically, geographically, and politically – the list includes countries like Qatar (second highest GDP per capita) and Liberia (second lowest GDP per capita)

Despite recent political shocks, the historic scale of the refugee crisis and the steady flow of disturbing stories which have dominated headlines, so far, public charitable giving seems not to have been impacted. The dependable and enduring generosity of people in the UK in their support of good causes remains unwavering. Thank you.

There are some key points to consider when giving to a charity like OperaUpClose, which many people aren’t aware of. So, after doing a little digging, I’ve put together some information FYI.

The main thing to take away from all this: All gifts to charity are exempt from tax.

Firstly, you might want to consider two main points when it comes to tax-efficient giving:

  1. Is my chosen charity eligible for tax deductions / Gift Aid?
  2. How can I reduce my own tax bill by donating?

Another point I’ll stress: Being savvy about how you donate really can increase the value of your donation substantially! So do read on!


Gift Aid

The UK government introduced the Gift Aid scheme to support registered charities, who are able to reclaim income tax so as to boost the value of donations made. So if you’re a UK tax payer, you can ‘Gift Aid’ your donation, meaning we can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give, without it costing you any extra.

  • Another fun fact: in the 21 years since Gift Aid was introduced, registered charities have garnered an additional £12 billion in tax reclaims on donations in the UK.
  • Another less fun fact: Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) estimates that an additional £750 million of potential tax reclaim benefit goes unclaimed each year.

If you’re unsure whether OperaUpClose is claiming Gift Aid on your donation, please get in touch.


Tax Relief

All gifts to charity are exempt from tax.

If you pay tax at the higher or additional rate, you can claim the difference between the rate you pay and basic rate on your donation. You can do this through your Self Assessment Tax Return or by asking HMRC to alter your tax code.

So let's say you donate £100 to OperaUpClose - we claim Gift Aid to make your donation £125 (thank you). The basic rate of income tax is 20%, so if you pay 40% tax, you can personally claim back £25.00 (£125 x 20%) on your £100 donation.

Easier still, with Payroll Giving, you don’t pay the difference between the higher and basic rate of tax on your donation.


Payroll Giving

Payroll giving, if offered by your employer or pension provider, is an easy way to increase the value of your donation because your donation is deducted from your gross salary BEFORE tax. So, you don’t pay tax on it in the first place.

Your tax relief depends on the rate of tax you pay. To donate £1, you pay:

  • 80p if you’re a lower rate taxpayer
  • 60p if you’re a higher rate taxpayer
  • 55p if you’re an additional rate taxpayer

Your best bet is to ask your employer or pension provider if they run a payroll giving scheme.

While you’re thinking about your employer, a lot of people don’t know that some corporates have policies which dictate that if an employee donates to a non-profit, their corporation will donate money to the same non-profit according to a predetermined ratio (usually 1:1). Definitely worth investigating.


Keeping Records

All of my research stressed the importance of record-keeping, so it’s probably best to mention that here. In order to access the full benefits of tax relief on charitable giving, it is essential to keep detailed, up-to-date records of all your donations to charity.


Legacy Giving

Another way to give, which is growing considerably in popularity, is by leaving a legacy in your Will. An important tax issue to consider when thinking about your Will is inheritance tax - everything above £325,000 will be taxed at 40%. However, if you leave 10% of your estate to charity, you receive 10% off inheritance tax!

You can find out how to leave a legacy to OperaUpClose here.