Opera in Schools

Every year, as part of New Zealand Opera’s participation programme we bring opera to children from as many regions as we can. Specially devised for kiwi kids from Primary and Intermediate, we do a range of activities. We organise and run workshops and masterclasses designed to inspire, educate and nurture aspiring artists. We invite school groups to attend our dress rehearsals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, which is a fantastic opportunity to introduce students to the world of professional theatre and opera.

The highlight of these initiatives are the Opera in Schools Tours which are fun and highly engaging productions of 45 minute adaptations of well-known operas. Singers perform in English and are accompanied by a pianist, featuring set and costumes designed to fit in the school hall. Following the performance, students have the opportunity to meet the artists, and learn more about opera. This is accompanied by a resource pack which gives you all the tools to bring opera into your school curriculum.
More details below on our next tour.

2020 Opera in Schools Tour


Read our latest blog post on the recent Opera in Schools tour here.

Our Opera in Schools tour this year is Simon Butteriss’ The Magic Flute and the Broomstick (a conflated version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel). This is yet another fun and exciting adaptation that brings the wonderful world of opera to primary and intermediate school aged students around the country.

This production is a 45 minute performance in English, with a full set and stunning costumes that will engage and delight your students. The set is constructed to easily move in and out of your hall by our experienced team.  After the performance we welcome time for a Q&A session with the cast should you wish. We supply the performers, set, costume and accompanist, you supply the audience!

COVID-19 Due to the disruption of COVID-19 we will be rescheduling the Hamilton and Auckland section of the tour till early 2021. Please contact us if you would like further information. Thank You.


Touring Dates for 2020:

Christchurch / Mid Canterbury 2 – 6 March 2020

Nelson 10 March 2020

Wellington 11 – 13 March 2020

Rotorua 17 – 19 March 2020

Hamilton 20 March 2020

Auckland 23 March – 3 April 2020

We still have some spaces available for 2020!

To book a tour at your school please fill in our booking form.


Stuart Coats is a veteran of the New Zealand Opera Chorus, having done his first production (for then Wellington City Opera) in 1994. At that time he was completing his BMus at Victoria University. Since then he has performed for many other organisations, including Capital E’s National Theatre for Children, Class Act Opera, Operatunity and Stetson Productions. He has written and performed in an award winning comedy show, entertained thousands of corporate clients and provided voice-overs for many websites and phone systems. He was also the Company Manager for NZ Opera from 2006 to 2009 and his combination of gravitas and bonhomie has never been adequately replaced. Stuart spends his free time recovering from sporting injuries, looking after furry dependants and helping to cultivate and maintain his partner’s significant personal brand.

Soprano Polly Ott holds a Master of Arts in Opera with Distinction from the Universität der Künste Berlin, studying under Prof. Julie Kaufmann, and a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours in Performance Voice from the University of Canterbury, where she studied with Dame Malvina Major. Polly was an Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera. Recent engagements include Mozart’s C Minor Mass at the Berlin Philharmonie, PAMINA in Die Zauberflöte by Mozart at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, DESPINA in Così fan tutte at the Cuvilliés Theatre in Munich, THE BOY FROM NEW YORK in the world premiere of The True Story of King Kong by Jeffery Ching at the Magdeburg Theatre, and ANNE FRANK in the mono-opera The Diary of Anne Frank by Grigori Frid at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Harry Grigg (tenor) completed his Honours Degree (First Class) at the University of Auckland under the tutelage of Te Oti Rakena, and placed third at the 2018 PACANZ Young Performer of the Year Competition. During 2017 Harry attended Si parla, si canta, a six-week summer school in Italy, and took part in Patricia Hurley’s Opera Tours for Singers in Tuscany. He performed the role of Scaramuccio/Ariadne auf Naxos as part of the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School in Brisbane. Harry was selected as a member of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Singer Development Programme in 2017/18 and gratefully acknowledges the support of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. He is currently a member of the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus in Auckland, performing in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Don Giovanni during 2019. Harry was recently awarded a Circle100 travel scholarship to help him explore his future study options overseas. He is a Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera 2019-20.

Accompanied by Musical Director Fiona McCabe

Fiona is a prize-winning pianist and musician who has performed all over the world. She likes to sing, she is a soprano, and play the piano as an accompanist for singers and other musicians.  When she plays the piano for opera, she is called a Repetiteur, which is a fancy French word meaning she repeats lots and lots of notes on the piano while listening to singers. When she’s not listening to singers, she’s also training them in her studio, and listening to clients as she is also a trained Psychotherapist. One of her favourite things she’s done in the past was playing for the Lion King and Mamma Mia in Sydney, and recently was Musically directing ‘Mr McGee and the Biting Flea’ for Capital E’s Children’s theatre in Wellington. In her spare time, she likes to plant things in her garden with help from her cat, Mufasa, and write songs.

Dress Rehearsals

New Zealand Opera invites school groups to attend our Dress Rehearsals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch at a special schools’ rate. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to be introduced to the world of professional opera in New Zealand.  Find the booking forms and further information on our website.

Dress Rehearsals


At New Zealand Opera we host a range of activity designed to inspire, educate, and nurture future artists.  We have a range of workshops and masterclasses to support the primary, secondary and tertiary curriculum, introducing students of all ages to the many fascinating elements of opera.

Contact New Zealand Opera directly to create a bespoke workshop or masterclass at education@nzopera.co.nz


Tailored to Senior School-aged students with a keen interest in the arts, the Ambassador programme offers opportunities for connection with like-minded individuals, career pathways and networking, and unique experiences around each of our productions.

Join us for a taste of professional theatre-making in varied settings and attend rehearsals and events along the way.


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