Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Sarah Estill


Soprano, Director, Vocal and Dramatic Animateur

Sarah Estill was awarded a BA/MA from Keble College, Oxford, before graduating with Distinction with MA in Performance from the University of Huddersfield. She continued her studies on various scholarships at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Dublin DIT Conservatoire of Music, Flanders Opera Studio, the Royal Northern College of Music and on the Opera Course of Mannes College of Music, New York. She won the Prize for the most promising student at the Bayerische Staatsoper Sommerkurs in 1999, and was a finalist in both the 2003 Mastersingers Competition for Female Wagner Singers and the 2004 Bayreuth Bursary Competition. She is an alumna of both the Wagner Society and Britten-Pears Young Artist Programmes and was a medal recipient in the 2007 inaugural NDO Jose Cura Opera Project.

Sarah has sung regularly with major companies such as English National Opera and is currently a member of Opera North. Her professional engagements as a soloist have taken her all over the world singing roles such as Leonora Il Trovatore, Violetta La Traviata, Donna Anna Don Giovanni, Amelia A Masked Ball and the title roles in Ariadne auf Naxos, Aida, Tosca and Suor Angelica. She made her debut in Wagner repertoire as Gutrune in Götterdämmerung, followed by Helmwige in Die Walküre, Flower Maiden I Parsifal, Woglinde, Wellgunde, Freia, Sieglinde and Brünnhilde The Ring Cycle, Eva Die Meistersinger and Elisabeth Tannhäuser. This year she will sing Senta in The Flying Dutchman in a concert performance with Leeds College of Music Community Symphony Orchestra. She has understudied Mother/Witch Hansel and Gretel, Wellgunde, Olga The Merry Widow, Liza The Portrait, Nettie Carousel all for Opera North, Venus in Mozart’s Ascanio in Alba for Buxton Festival Opera, Nedda I Pagliacci for English Pocket Opera and Rosalinde Die Fledermaus for English Touring Opera. Already an established Britten singer, she has sung Lady Billows Albert Herring at the 2005 Britten Festival in Aldeburgh, Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw in Malta, the War Requiem in St Albans Abbey, and Female Chorus The Rape of Lucretia in Belgium and also in an historic production of The Rape of Lucretia at the Barn Theatre, Dartington Hall, the venue for which it was originally written. In 2005 she also covered Ellen Orford for Surrey Opera and was part of the Peter Grimes conducted by Simon Rattle at the Salzburg Festival. Most recently she understudied Dame Josephine Barstow as Lady Billows for Opera North.

Her extensive concert repertoire includes Berg Three Fragments from Wozzeck, Gerswhin Porgy and Bess (Concert Version), Mahler Symphony No. 4, Elijah, Rossini Stabat Mater, Strauss Four Last Songs, Wagner Liebestod and Immolation Scene and the Verdi, Mozart and Faure Requiem, as well as a wide variety of lieder, art song, popular and lighter repertoire in concert and at corporate events. She has been a featured classical artist on the QE2 and in 2007 sang for HRH Queen Elizabeth II. She has appeared as Britannia in various “Proms in the Park” events and she appeared on the BBC’s “The One Show” where she shattered a glass using her voice.

More recently Sarah has added directing to her credits, producing shows such as Faust and Eugene Onegin for Leeds youth Opera, Beatrice and Benedick, The Marriage of Figaro and The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Bartered Bride for West Riding Opera, Madam Butterfl, The Magic Flute and Dido and Aeneas for Skipton Camerata, Hansel and Gretel for Buxton Festival, Suor Angelica for Opera Femina and A Night in Paris for Opera on a Shoestring.

Sarah Estill has offered private vocal tuition for over 15 years, and is currently marking out a reputation as both a singing teacher and a vocal/dramatic animateur in education work and also audience development. Her teaching and education related experience has involved her working as a workshop leader and animateur with primary children through to adults, in various establishments from private schools to inner city academies, from stage schools to higher education institutions and she remains commited to widening participation in the arts through performance opportunities and educational activities.

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