Vocal and Opera Studies

The Vocal and Opera Studies Unit reflects the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s strong commitment to singing, an environment in which our students have excelled (Dame Joan Sutherland is the most famous example). Together with the Opera School of the Sydney Conservatorium, the Vocal and Opera Studies Unit develops skills in a wide range of repertoire and performance types from the recital to the opera stage. Our students come from all states of Australia and overseas, attracted by a teaching staff with wide experience as concert and operatic artists and outstanding pedagogues, all of whom have had distinguished careers. Many of our teachers are still active as performers with repertoire interests ranging from the early Renaissance to contemporary classical music.

Coaching and language instruction from the Sydney Conservatorium’s Piano Accompaniment Unit and language staff complement individual vocal lessons. Along with establishing and refining students’ vocal, musical and artistic skills, the Vocal and Opera Studies Unit develops the personal attributes needed for a career in performance, teaching or other fields. Vocal students at the Sydney Conservatorium have various opportunities for performance in workshops, chamber music concerts and masterclasses. They are encouraged to take part in concerts of major choral works and in the Opera School of the Sydney Conservatorium’s opera productions. Our students have also been successful in many competitions around Australia.

The Sydney Conservatorium Opera School showcases vocal and dramatic talent in regular public opera productions, using the Sydney Conservatorium’s versatile performing spaces. These well-attended productions provide an opportunity for outstanding talent to take its first bow in practical preparation for the opera profession. Working with established and emerging stage directors, conductors, coaches and repetiteurs, students train in aspects of stagecraft, such as characterisation, language and ensemble skills. They also receive the invaluable opportunity to study and perform a role, and the style of the selected operatic repertoire is diverse. Weekly performance workshops, masterclasses and opera performance classes provide additional performance opportunities.

Graduates from the Opera School have been employed as full-time artists by the national company, Opera Australia; in state opera companies; and in young artist programs of opera companies, such as those in Zurich, Cologne, Vienna and Rome.

Study Options

Vocal and Opera Studies Faculty

Audition Requirements

Accompaniment for Live Auditions
A professional accompaniment can be provided at the live audition.  Please note if you intend to use an accompanist provided by the Conservatorium, no practice time is available with the accompanist.  Ensure you bring your Music to the audition.  No recorded accompaniment is permitted.  Alternatively, you may arrange your own accompaniment. Postgraduate applicants who use the Conservatorium accompaniment during the live audition period will need to pay a fee of $50 AUD or arrange their own.

Audition DVD Recording
Where possible, you should attend a live audition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. If you are an interstate or international applicant and cannot attend in person, you may submit a video recorded audition through the application process. The recordings must be no older than six weeks at the time of dispatch. Audio-only recordings will not be accepted.

Undergraduate

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Please note: only Classical Voice is available at undergraduate level.

Music Skills Test
Since prior music skills development is essential for successful study at the Sydney Conservatorium, the Music Skills Test must be completed. The test is held at the Conservatorium during the audition/interview period and is designed to assess whether you have a sufficient level of music literacy in harmony and aural perception to cope with the demands of the course. As a guide, the minimum level of skills possessed should be at the level of the New South Wales Music 2 syllabus (formerly 2 Unit Music) or AMEB Level 6 Musicianship or equivalent. Results of the Music Skills Test supplement the information provided by other aspects of the audition process. If you are successful, the results also help to determine streaming in aural and harmony subjects.

Bachelor of Music (Performance), Diploma of Music, Bachelor of Music (Music Education, Bachelor of Music Studies, and combined degrees

In addition to the Music Skills Test, you should be prepared to perform one work from each of the following categories: a 17th or 18th century Italian song; a Lied (e.g. Schubert or Schumann); a British or American art song of the 20th or 21st century; and a song of your own choice.

All works should be performed from memory. Typically the panel will hear two pieces only and you may be required to demonstrate the capacity to read music.

Postgraduate

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Classical Voice

Graduate Diploma in Music (Performance) and Master of Music Studies (Performance)
You should prepare for an audition, comprising a 30-minute recital of advanced and varied works performed to a high level of excellence and exhibiting a variety of languages. The audition would generally include a representation of the general art song repertoire. In an interview following the performance, you will need to outline a proposed plan of study.

Opera Voice

Graduate Diploma in Music (Opera Performance) and Master of Music Studies (Opera Performance)
You should be prepared to present a varied program of at least three arias at an advanced level of difficulty and to a high standard of excellence. In an interview following your performance, a general discussion of your current experience and future goals will be explored.