The European Opera Centre was launched at the end of 1997 following extensive consultation with the European Parliament and the European Commission, which provided consistent support for some twenty years.
From the outset, the Centre has maintained two broad aims: to help people of high potential move from education to employment in opera; and to help develop audiences for opera. In 2015, the Centre’s Trustees decided to extend the opportunities offered to include the rest of the world as well as Europe.
People from 37 European countries attended the Centre when its focus was principally European. Singers have been heard and assisted in 50 cities, and major performance projects undertaken in 17 countries. The Centre’s most recent auditions attracted people from 77 countries.
The Centre began life in Manchester, moving to Liverpool in 2004 following its successful contribution to the City’s bid to be European Capital of Culture. The Centre opened the European Capital of Culture year in 2008 with a new production of the 1824 version of Donizetti’s Emilia di Liverpool.
The Centre is based at the Creative Campus of Liverpool Hope University which provides excellent facilities for the performing arts. The Centre has undertaken eight opera projects with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
International recognition of the Centre’s work includes an award at the International Television Festival Golden Prague. The animated film of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen was voted best music or dance programme made for television. The European Opera Centre instigated this project, which was taken up by BBC Television.
The project was overseen by the Centre’s President, Kent Nagano, who recorded the orchestral track with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Versions have been made in English, Spanish, Catalan, Czech and French. The film is estimated to have reached some 3 million people around the world.
The Golden Prague citation reads: With ideal casting of voices and a perfect blend of music and art, the film – staying true to the spirit of Janáček – appeals across a broad age span and is an important addition to the musical canon.