Guest Lecturers 2024-25

Anthony Almeida, United Kingdom
Opera Director

Photo: Jacobus Snyman

Anthony Almeida is a multi-award-winning theatre and opera director. He is the only director to have won both the RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award and the European Opera Director Prize. Last year, he was nominated ‘Rising Star’ at the International Opera Awards.

Anthony has been Resident at both Almeida Theatre and Royal Opera House. His work extends to theatre in prisons, pupil referral units, and other community settings. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Nottingham Playhouse.

David Gowland, United Kingdom
Artistic Director Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, Royal Opera House London

David Gowland

David Gowland is Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House. He studied at the Royal College of Music, where he won the Ruby Hope and Major van Someren Godfrey prizes for piano accompaniment, and at the National Opera Studio in London.

David has been associated with the Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House since its inception in 2000, initially as Director of Musical Preparation and from 2006 as Artistic Director. He regularly accompanies all the singers on the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in recitals of both song and operatic repertoire.

Ulrike Köstinger, Austria
CEO, Operabase

Ulrike Köstinger has a strong performing arts industry background. She studied International Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and Arts Management at the University of Zurich. Ulrike worked in the casting office, organizing the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival, then moved to work at L’Oréal Austria as a product manager in their marketing department. She also worked at Teatro alla Scala, as an executive assistant to Alexander Pereira. Up until 2020, Ulrike was the Director of Cooperation & Development for the classical music video-streaming-platform takt1.

Ulrike has been in the management team of Arts Consolidated (Operabase, CueTV) for two years in the position of Chief Content and Partnership Officer before becoming CEO in January 2023. Outside of Arts Consolidated, she voluntarily serves as the chairwoman of “Next Generation – Friends of the Salzburg Festival” and is a passionate marathoner.

Fiona MacSherry, United Kingdom
Vocal Coach and repetiteur

Fiona MacSherry, coach

Fiona MacSherry studied at the University of Southampton, then in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama then at the National Opera Studio. She has worked as a repetiteur with many operatic organizations.  In Britain these include Garsington, Castleward, Buxton and Almeida Festivals, English Touring Opera, Opera North and Opera Rara.

Engagements elsewhere in Europe include Wexford and Montepulciano Festivals, Den Anden Opera and Bremen Opera. As a coach she has taught in Glasgow (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Manchester (Royal Northern College of Music), Copenhagen (Opera Akademiet) and Oslo (National Academy of the Arts). She is a guest Professor at Copenhagen’s Royal Opera Academy and was Head of Music at Opera Akadamiet before joining Scottish Opera in 2018.

National Opera Studio, United Kingdom

National Opera Studio, London

The National Opera Studio exists to train talented young musicians to become the leading artists of their generation. They aim to make a significant contribution to the opera ecology and the wider creative and cultural life of the UK through the provision of top-quality professional training, and by otheirur engagement and position in the sector.

At its core, the National Opera Studio provides intensive and bespoke professional training at the highest level for a small number of singers and repetiteurs each year and prepares them for life on an international operatic stage. They work in partnership with six of the leading opera companies in the UK: English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North, the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera.

Toby Spence, United Kingdom

Toby Spence, tenor

Photo: Mitch Jenkins

Toby Spence studied at New College, Oxford and the Opera School at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society 2011 Singer of the Year award.

Toby has sung with the ROH, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Real Madrid, Theater an der Wien and Hamburgische Staatsoper. In concert, Toby has sung with some of the most renowned orchestras such as the Berlin, Los Angeles and Vienna Philharmonics, Bavarian Radio, the London and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, and the Cleveland Orchestra, and has appeared as a soloist at the Salzburg Easter Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Annette Weber, Switzerland
Director of Opera, Opernhaus Zürich

Annette-Weber, Opernhaus Zürich

Photo: Tanja Krebs

Annette Weber studied theatre and musicology in Mainz, gaining experience as an Assistant Director at the same time, and was engaged at the Badisches Staatstheater, Karlsruhe until 2004. She then held the same position at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin until 2010.

Between 2010 and 2016, she worked regularly with Stefan Herheim in Berlin, Bayreuth and Salzburg, among other places. From 2013 to 2018, she worked as a consultant for the Artistic Administrative Director of the Semperoper Dresden, where she was responsible for artistic affairs and casting. In 2018 she became Casting Director of Staatsoper Hamburg. Weber has been the Opera Director of Opernhaus Zürich since 2021.

Melissa Wegner, USA
Executive Director, Lindemann Young Artist Development Program
and Laffont Competition, Metropolitan Opera, New York

Melissa Wegner is the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Laffont Competition. She is responsible for identifying, awarding, and developing the world’s most promising operatic talent.

Ms. Wegner is a sought-after juror for international voice competitions, having adjudicated in South Africa, Russia, Latvia, Italy, and Georgia. She is on the faculty of The Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute and is a frequent guest speaker at academic institutions, professional companies, and digital media outlets.

She has been awarded by many organizations for her leadership in the industry, including Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year.