OPERA North are on Tyneside this week, and so are some of the operatic stars of the future.
While the Leeds-based opera company is presenting three new productions at the Theatre Royal, North East charity Samling offers a showcase for brilliant young singers and pianists at The Sage Gateshead.
The latest batch of Samling scholars – singers from around the world who have already demonstrated their promise – are benefiting from a week-long series of masterclasses led by the celebrated German baritone Olaf Bär, and John Fisher, chair of the BBC Singer of the World competition.
These take place in private at the Farlam Hall Hotel, near Brampton, but there are two opportunities to see the latest scholars, both singers and pianists, at the Sage this week.
Tomorrow, at 2pm, there will be a public masterclass in Hall Two in which the scholars will first perform and then have their performance deconstructed publicly by the experts.
While potentially nerve-wracking, the process is always good-humoured and also fascinating for an audience. You will see wonderful musicians made better before your eyes.
Then, on Saturday at 7pm, there will be a concert by the scholars, presented by Olaf Bär, where they will demonstrate what they have learned.
The list of singers who have benefited from the Samling experience lengthens by the year, so it is a rare British operatic production which doesn’t boast one or two past scholars.
The singers on the current Samling residency are sopranos Susanna Hurrell and Joanna Foote, mezzo-sopranos Rachel Kelly and Helen Sherman, tenor Luis Gomes and baritone Ben McAteer.
Joining them are pianists Matthew Fletcher and John Reid.
Recently, Hexham-based Samling launched a new initiative, the Samling Academy, dedicated to young people living or studying in the region.
In partnership with The Sage Gateshead and Newcastle and Durham universities, it organised two intensive weekends of workshops leading up to a Hall Two concert at the Sage.
The youngsters took to the stage with two Samling scholars - soprano Caroline MacPhie and pianist James Baillieu.