Sunday, December 10, 2023

Students impressed during tour of Royal Opera House in Purfleet

Royal Opera

THE Royal Opera House in Thurrock welcomed students from the Wilmington Grammar School for Girls recently. The students visited the ROH Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and the Costume Centre to get some first-hand experience of stage set and costume construction to help them in their work for the Royal Opera House Design Challenge.

Forty Year 10 Art and Design students made the trip from Kent to the Royal Opera House’s home from home in Purfleet, Thurrock. They toured the Production Workshop to see the Scenic Painters, Carpenters and Metalworkers building, making and painting sets and scenery for ROH productions House of the Dead, Swan Lake, Semiramide and La Tragedie de Carmen.

They also had a chance to meet the makers in the ROH Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre where many of the costumes for the Chorus and cast members of Covent Garden productions are dyed, distressed, constructed and repaired.

The students made the visit as their school is part of a pilot to extend the Royal Opera House’s prestigious Design Challenge to secondary schools. The annual Design Challenge competition gives students the opportunity to test and develop design skills, based around an opera or ballet production. Each participating student works through the six stages of design using a real director’s brief, building a portfolio of their process and a final piece.

Winners of the Design Challenge competition will be invited to the Royal Opera House for a backstage tour, time with the industry professionals in the relevant ROH departments and a matinee performance.

The students from Wilmington Grammar School were delighted with their visit and the inspiration it gave them: Maddie said: ‘The ROH trip opened my eyes to the world of Opera and all of the work and dedication that goes into it. I learnt lots about the costumes they use and how long they take to design and produce. I also like watching the painters working on the set from a small example of it on paper. The scale of it is so much bigger than I initially thought.’

‘I was really inspired by the costumes because they were so unique and the ideas were amazing. They were beautifully designed and stunning to look at. I am going to base one of my ideas on the costume for Herodius as I thought it was a great costume to show her personality,’ added Ruby.

Emma Troubridge, Head of Scenic Art at the Royal Opera House Production Workshop said: ‘We love having students visit the workshops. We share our skills and our passion for the work with them and they share their enthusiasm and their new perspectives with us. They are the future of our creative industries and they bring new energy and ideas. We can’t wait to see what they come up with for the Design Challenge.’

To find out more about the ROH Design Challenge please go to If you would like to take a tour of the ROH Production Facilities in Thurrock, please go to


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