Jerwood Opera Writing Programme

For composers, writers and directors who want to create contemporary work combining music, theatre and text.

The Jerwood Opera Writing Programme is made up of two parts: Foundation and Fellowships.

The Foundation is designed to give composers, writers and directors a grounding in creating new opera through a series of practical workshops and seminars, over the course of one year.

Fellowships give support over a 2 year period for the development of a new opera by providing a collaborative, supportive environment, as well as financial and practical support and expertise through workshops and mentoring.

The current cohort of Jerwood Opera Writing Fellows will be working with us until the end of 2018. We are currently reviewing the foundation and fellowship programme and so are not accepting new applications and do not expect to do so until further notice.

If you would like to be informed of future updates and opportunities with the Jerwood Opera programme, please join sign up to hear about residency opportunities.


Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowships 2016-2018


Sarah Angliss & Ross Sutherland

Sarah Angliss, Ross Sutherland and Sarah Fahie’s opera is based on the true story of Charles Byrne, ‘The Irish Giant’, who was considered a living wonder at nearly 8′ tall, but lived in terror of what would happen to his body when he died. Read more on Sarah Angliss’ website.


Tom Coult & Alice Birch

Tom Coult and Alice Birch’s opera is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s short satirical story The Devil in the Belfry. An insular town runs like clockwork under their beloved clocktower until one night, an hour disappears. On day two, two hours are missing, on day three, three are gone. Our story takes place over 24 increasingly short days, as time drains from the world, until the opera snaps shut as the final hour disappears.

The Conifers

Joel Rust & David Troupes

The Conifers is the story of the last four people waiting to get off of a dying planet. It’s not Earth but an artificial world, a piece of rock terraformed to grow trees: a planet-sized timber farm. But something has gone wrong, the trees aren’t growing anymore, and the company has decided to cut its losses and evacuate.

And so the last inhabitants of this minimal world converge on a hangar, waiting for the dropship which will carry them away. As the curtain comes up the ship is nine hours late, on a world where nothing is late. Has the company abandoned them? Has something gone wrong? They tell stories to pass the time, until, amid their escalating alarm, the planet itself begins to assert its own strange music.

The Raft

Jesse Jones & Richard Scott

In 1816 the frigate Méduse hit a sandbank off the coast of Senegal. 151 men escaped onto a handmade raft. After 13 days at sea only 15 of them were still alive. Together composer Jesse Jones, director Josh Armstrong and librettist Richard Scott attempt to unearth the truth of what happened on board the raft during those 13 days of cannibalism, murder and starvation – but can opera tell the truth?

Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation Year 2014/15



  • Josh Armstrong (director)
  • Finn Beames (director/writer)
  • Santa Bušs (composer)
  • Pamela Carter (playwright)
  • Leyli Daryoush (writer)
  • Petter Ekman (composer)
  • Samantha Fernando (composer)
  • Nic Green (director, performer, artist)
  • Max Hoehn (writer/director)
  • Edmund Hunt (composer)
  • Jesse Jones (composer)
  • Sarah Lewis (composer)
  • Lliam Paterson (composer)
  • Naomi Pinnock (composer)
  • Richard Scott (writer/poet)
  • Daniel Solon (playwright)
  • Andrew Thomas (composer)
  • Shiori Usui (composer)
  • Jennifer Williams (poet/playwright)

Contributors & Tutors:

  • Patrick Dickie (opera producer)
  • Jonathan Dove (composer)
  • Mary King (vocal consultant)
  • Stewart Laing (director/designer)
  • Stephen Plaice (writer)
  • David Sawer (composer)

Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowships 2012/13

Beyond the Pale

Composer Benjamin Scheuer
Writer Tom Swift
Director Tom Creed

Following the completion of the Fellowship a grant was awarded by Arts Council Ireland for further development and completion of the opera.

Café Kafka

Composer Francisco Coll
Writer Meredith Oakes

Presented and produced through a partnership between Snape Maltings, Royal Opera and Opera North.

World premiere at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, with further performances in Leeds and London in 2014 and Valencia in 2016.

Photo: Robert Workman


Composer Mark Simpson
Writer Melanie Challenger

Presented and produced through a partnership between Snape Maltings, Royal Opera and Opera North.

World premiere in 2016 at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, with further performances in the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings, the Lyric Hammersmith in London and the Liverpool Playhouse.


Knots & Do-Nots

Composer/Writer Sasha Siem
Writer/Director Ted Huffman

Concluded and ready for commission and production.

Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation 2010/11


  • Natalie Abrahami (director)
  • Peter Cant (writer)
  • Tom Creed (director)
  • Nancy Harris (writer)
  • Aaron Holloway-Nahum (composer)
  • Huang Ruo (composer)
  • Ted Huffman (director/writer)
  • Joanna Lee (composer)
  • Toby Litt (writer)
  • Jamie Man (composer)
  • Christopher Mayo (composer)
  • Alan McKendrick (writer)
  • Donal Sarsfield (composer)
  • Benjamin Scheuer (composer)
  • Sasha Siem (composer)
  • Hannah Silva (writer/director)
  • Marcin Stanczyk (composer)
  • Luke Styles (composer)
  • Tom Swift (writer)


  • Harrison Birtwistle (composer)
  • Jonathan Dove (composer)
  • Alexander Goehr (composer)
  • Orlando Gough (composer)
  • Lavinia Greenlaw (writer)
  • Netia Jones (director,designer, video designer)
  • Mary King (vocal consultant)
  • Stephen Langridge (director)
  • Penny MacKay (vocal consultant)

Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowship 2009/10

Twelve Telephone Conversations with Frank O’Hara

Composer Larry Goves
Writer Matthew Welton

Concluded and ready for commission and production.

Seven Angels

Director John Fulljames
Composer Luke Bedford
Writer Glyn Maxwell

World premiere in 2011 at CBSO Centre in Birmingham before touring to Cardiff, Glasgow, Brighton, Oxford, London and Latitude Festival Suffolk.

Star-Shaped Biscuit

Composer & writer David Toop

World premiere in 2012 in Derelict Building 9, Snape Maltings, Suffolk.

The Commission

Composer Elspeth Brooke
Writer Jack Underwood
Video Artist Ellie Rees

Presented and produced through a partnership between Snape Maltings, Royal Opera and Opera North.

World premiere in 2014 in the Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Suffolk with further performances in Leeds and London.

Make No Noise!

Director Matthew Lutton
Composer Miroslav Srnka
Writer Tom Holloway

World premiere in 2011 in Pavillon 21 before touring to Munich and Amsterdam with further performances in Bregenz in 2016.

Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation 2007

Giorgio Batistelli (Artistic Director)


  • Byron Au Yong (composer)
  • Marius Baranauskas (composer)
  • Elspeth Brooke (composer)
  • Marketa Dvorakova (composer)
  • Matthew Hollis (writer)
  • Jenny Jackson (composer)
  • Marcy Kahan (writer)
  • Ninaz Khodajii (writer)
  • Rebecca Lenkiewicz (writer)
  • Jonathan Lloyd (composer)
  • Carola Luther (writer)
  • Matthew Lutton (theatre-maker)
  • Sjaron Minailo (director)
  • Gary Owen (writer)
  • Evangelia Rigaki (composer)
  • Raminta Serksnyte (composer)
  • Bijan Sheibani (director)
  • Miroslav Srnka (composer)
  • David Toop (composer)
  • Jack Underwood (writer)


  • Richard Ayres (composer)
  • Sheila Barnes (vocal consultant)
  • Harrison Birtwistle (composer)
  • Ian Burton (dramaturg)
  • Alison Chitty (designer)
  • Lavinia Greenlaw (writer)
  • Mary King (vocal consultant)
  • Stephen Langeridge (director)
  • Arnoud Noordegraaf (composer)
  • Meredith Oakes (playwright)
  • Stephen Plaice (writer)
  • David Sawer (composer)
  • Alvise Vidolin (electronics)