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IDEASFACTORY: Music & Sound: A Fine Pair of Lungs
Jane Gilchrist
Denise Leigh
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OPERATUNITY premiered on June 13, 2005 and was rebroadcast on April 3, 2006 on PBS (check local listings).

The English National Opera took on an unprecedented challenge: it would conduct a nationwide search to find someone with no operatic experience, who could be coached to sing in Verdi's "Rigoletto" on the stage of the London Coliseum side by side with world-class performers. The result is OPERATUNITY, the compelling human story of raw talents whose operatic dreams finally meet reality. First, a casting call across all of England introduces viewers to a colorful array of characters with secret passions for Puccini, Wagner, and Mozart. Regional auditions lead to a London workshop where the final six participants -- including an investment banker, a supermarket cashier, and a blind mother of three -- are selected and receive coaching in vocal and dramatic technique, as well as physical training and the fundamentals of stagecraft. Finally, OPERATUNITY follows two star discoveries from the nerve-wracking final days before the performance to curtain-up and the exhilaration of their operatic debut, combining real-life drama with the high theatrical drama and emotional intensity of grand opera.

Get additional details about the unparalleled ENO contest and what was involved in the selection process from panel member Mary King -- a performer in her own right and the artistic director of The Knack, the ENO's training course for opera singers -- in the essay by writer Marc Geelhoed. Explore a primer on the different voices in opera and a synopsis of the ENO's production of "Rigoletto," with extended video excerpts from the performance, in Opera Basics, the Multimedia Presentation. Read more about the co-winners, Jane Gilchrist and Denise Leigh, in biographies.

Additional funding for this program was provided by the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust.



Top banner photos: OPERATUNITY winner Denise Leigh; judges John Fraser, Mary King, Paul Daniel, and Leah Hausman; winner Jane Gilchrist

Regional finalists participating in group workshops.

As part of their in-person auditions, the 110 regional finalists also participated in group workshops.

Winner Jane Gilchrist gets vocal coaching from ENO judge Mary King.

Winner Jane Gilchrist gets vocal coaching from ENO panel member Mary King.

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This program is not available on VHS or DVD.


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