Sarah Playfair

Opera Casting Director

I have worked in the field of performing arts management for over 50 years, starting in theatre and contemporary dance before moving into opera via two years as an opera stage manager. After learning my trade during eight years in the Opera Planning Department of English National Opera (1974-1982) I was appointed to Scottish Opera as Controller of Planning (1982-1986), moving on to Welsh National Opera in the same position (1986-1989). From 1989 to 1998 I was at Glyndebourne as Director of Artistic Administration for the Glyndebourne Festival and Administrator of Glyndebourne Touring Opera.

In 1998 I left Glyndebourne to become a freelance arts consultant, initially covering a wide brief but gradually focussing in on what I enjoy most, opera casting – specialising in young British and UK-trained singers.

My regular long-term clients include Garsington Opera, Birmingham Opera Company and Tête à Tête, but I have also built relationships over a number of projects with many other organisations, some of which are listed below.

Clients include:

Garsington Opera

Birmingham Opera Company

Tête à Tête

Music Theatre Wales


English National Opera

The Opera Group/Mahogany Opera Group

Independent Opera

The Young Vic

Almeida Theatre

Almeida Opera

Donmar Warehouse


The Sage, Gateshead

Manchester International Festival

Aldeburgh Festival

Tiger Aspect Productions/Channel 4

Idéale Audience

BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Concert Orchestra

BBC Proms

BBC Television/BBC Three

Rork Music

Bethlehem 2000 Project

Savoy Opera

Brolly Productions

London Symphony Orchestra

London Philharmonic Orchestra

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


Minack Theatre

Music Theatre Wales

In addition I have taken seminars and classes at UK conservatoires and sat on the jury of singing competitions including the Welsh Singers’ Competition, AsLiCo (Italy) and the First China International Singing Competition. Most recently I was on the pre-selection panel for the International Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition 2022.

Clarification for singers: Please note that although I am happy to receive CVs, video/audio links and other material for perusal in my own time and for future reference (which may or may not lead to an audition or meeting), I am afraid that I am not able to give individual feedback on such material, nor on viewing of performances and auditions. Nor do I listen to individual auditions. My job is to work for companies and projects, not as a personal advisor to singers. When I know a singer in greater depth through work, then an approach for informal advice may be more appropriate

May 2022