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English Touring Opera’s education work represents some of the most successful and effective endeavours in this field, yet it receives no public funding. Robert Thicknesse meets Tim Yealland, the unsung hero of ETO’s outreach projects which help, enthuse, entertain and engage with marginalised audiences who might never otherwise have the chance to encounter opera

Education & Outreach

Speaking of his life as a composer, Benjamin Britten said that above all he wanted to be useful. It’s a remark that is often quoted, alongside grandiose slogans about ‘opera changing lives’, by opera managements to justify a world which can seem to exist for the benefit of a rather small social sector.

Beyond the plush productions of big opera houses, however, there’s another world where the idea of ‘usefulness’ can be more than a soundbite, and where genuine idealism engages with marginalised groups. Pimlico Opera’s work in prisons and Streetwise Opera’s projects with the homeless are well publicised; but I can almost guarantee you have never heard of the man who does more work with non-opera audiences – children, people living with dementia, community groups – around the whole country, on a full-time basis, than anyone else. He is Tim Yealland, the head of education at English Touring Opera (ETO), one of the great unsung heroes of the UK classical music scene.

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About Opera Now

British soprano Sophie Bevan discusses her starring role in a new opera at ENO; exploring the hidden art of the répétiteur; traditional craftsmanship meets contemporary design at Oman’s Royal Opera House Muscat; and Cardiff prepares to crown the Singer of the World. Plus, our pick of this year’s top singing competitions around the world; English Touring Opera proves that learning about opera can be educational and fun; American baritone and movie star Nelson Eddy; Simon Callow’s Wagnerian triumph; and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s legendary recordings.