Structure + Content
Our MA in Opera is a full-time degree and comprises 4 semesters (90 or 120 ECTS credits). The programme, including the thesis, is divided into seven module groups.
Our MA in Opera focuses not only on opera singing but on the music, the staging and on other related areas, providing intensive and comprehensive preparation for your professional career.
This degree programme:
Our MA in Opera is a full-time degree and comprises 4 semesters (90 or 120 ECTS credits). The programme, including the thesis, is divided into seven module groups.
The MA in Opera focuses on the following subjects:
and the central stage productions and opera stagings that take place each semester.
The programme also includes other elements that are relevant to opera:
Audition training, auditioning for agencies and opera houses, artistic work placements in musical theatre and the opportunity to meet guest speakers in the «Getting into the business» module and our lecturer in residence (an annually changing guest lecturer from the current musical theatre scene) round off the programme by offering you the chance to network with the professional world.
The programme is divided into seven module groups, each focusing on different content and methods:
The Core Subject module group focuses on the central acting, musical and vocal skills required in opera. These three areas combine to form your core subject. The focus is on developing an awareness of your own unique creative potential and on learning the craft of musical theatre and singing.
Here, we focus on developing your awareness of, and training, the physical and vocal tools of expression available to you in the following areas: theatre, stage movement, scene improvisation, diction/voice coaching.
The knowledge taught in the Musicology/Theory module group enables you to reflect on, and communicate about, opera and musical theatre, both in a historical context and in relation to the current opera scene.
This module group forms the heart of the degree programme. Each semester, public opera performances and artistic work placements allow students to experience the realities of the musical theatre world. The complexity builds over the semesters as follows:
Opera sketches: students sing, play and act in excerpts from a range of operas and eras. These are linked by a theme and/or a title and performed with keyboard accompaniment or as a collaboration with musical support from other study areas at HKB.
Opera workshop: here, students bring to life a creative musical theatre project and produce related literature. This project, which is based around a theme, is developed, staged and accompanied by an instrumental ensemble or an orchestra.
Artistic work placements (prestigious roles in musical theatre productions), stage projects involving transdisciplinary musical theatre work (in collaboration with other disciplines at HKB) and a project of your own (musical realisation and staging of a work you have selected yourself/an idea of your own).
Opera production: production of a complex operatic work, with musical interpretation of the full opera role and staging with an orchestra. The opera production includes the artistic part of the master’s thesis that concludes the degree programme.
This module group includes meetings, exchanges and workshops with prominent personalities and looks at trends in the current musical theatre landscape. Central elements include regular audition training and auditioning with opera agencies and opera houses.
The Elective module group allows you to specialise in different academic fields and/or in gaining practical experience. It also creates bridges to other areas of study at HKB.
The thesis consists of an artistic part (backstage work and role in the opera production) and a written thematic specialisation and reflection (thesis paper).
The objective of the MA in Opera is to equip you to work in today’s opera and musical theatre world. The programme focuses on developing your acting, musical and singing abilities. One important area of focus is the development of your own artistic imagination, creativity and initiative as we delve deeper into the worlds of performance and interpretation. We also encourage your ability to engage actively and independently with the broad spectrum of artistic challenges, different directing approaches and diverse musical styles you are likely to encounter in the future. We give our students the tools to develop and realise their own artistic projects, preparing them for the demands of the professional world.
HKB maintains close ties to a number of partner universities, both in Switzerland and abroad, and collaborates with international partners on numerous projects. HKB is also a member of several international networks.
As part of a framework agreement, Opera Studies is networked with all higher education music institutions in Switzerland. We collaborate with various theatres in Switzerland and with operatic agencies. International partnership with different academic institutions will gain in importance in the future.
Your career prospects on completing the MA are wide and varied. They extend from a permanent engagement with an opera house to taking part in free musical theatre projects, in festivals and working in a contemporary context. Our focus on individual and transdisciplinary skills will also allow you to move into other forms of artistic expression and to initiate your own projects.
At the end of the programme, you will graduate with the title Master of Arts (MA) in «Specialised Music Performance Opera» ab.
The MA in Opera is an important artistic qualification, a milestone on your journey to the operatic stage. The degree provides graduates with the stage skills they need to work in musical theatre.
Your career prospects are wide and varied. They extend from a permanent engagement with an opera house to taking part in free musical theatre projects and working in a contemporary context.
Auditioning for operatic agencies and/or opera houses is almost always the first step. To prepare you for this important step, the MA in Opera features regular audition training and auditions with operatic agencies and opera houses.
Our focus on individual and transdisciplinary skills will also allow you to move into other forms of artistic expression and to initiate your own musical theatre projects.
Francesco Addabbo (pianist, harpsichordist)
Mathias Behrends (opera and musical theatre director)
Riccardo Bovino (pianist)
Anna Magdalena Fitzi (actor, voice artist)
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (mezzo-soprano, lecturer in singing at HKB)
Malin Hartelius (soprano, lecturer in singing at HKB)
Christian Hilz (baritone, lecturer in singing at HKB)
Daniel Gloger, countertenor (lecturer in singing Opera, audition training, contemporary musical theater)
As a result of our collaborations and partnerships, students may also choose a lecturer for the opera singing part of the programme from a pool of singing teachers at all higher education music institutions in Switzerland. You will need the approval of the music institution in question.
Franziska Meyer (lecturer Music and Movement/Rhythmics)
Monika Nagy (pianist)
Maren Rieger (theatre and musical theatre dramaturge)
Stefan Saborowski (theatre and film actor)
Franco Trinca (conductor, Deputy Director of Opera, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn)
Guest lecturers in recent years have included professor of singing Marga Schiml, the musical theatre directors Johannes Schaaf, Peter Schweiger and Wolfram Mehring and Olivier Tambosi; conductors Stefan Lano, Mladen Tarbuk and Christoph Campestrini; the dramaturge Wolfgang Willaschek and the dancer, choreographer and director Joachim Schloemer. Moreover the performer, pop-, folk- und jazzsinger Marena Whitcher and german-syrian action artist Manaf Halbouni.
The Master of Arts in Specialised Music Performance – Opera at the HKB generally takes 4 semesters and comprises 90 or 120 ECTS credits, depending on your previous qualifications. It builds on a BA or an MA in Vocal Studies, offering a significantly broader programme that encompasses the skills required for musical theatre: You will develop your acting and musical skills. At the same time, we will work on vocal training. In these three core areas, we will challenge your artistic imagination, creativity and initiative as we delve deeper into the worlds of performance and interpretation. The Opera degree programme enables students to engage actively and independently with the broad spectrum of artistic challenges, different directing approaches and diverse musical styles they are likely to encounter in their future professional lives. We help our students to develop their own artistic personality and give them the tools to cultivate and realise their own artistic ideas.
Candidates for the MA in Opera need to be highly independent and demonstrate the potential to work on developing the whole range of stage-relevant skills simultaneously. We are looking for: a high standard of singing, solid musical skills, confidence, stage presence and expressive potential. This is a demanding programme, and you must be able to cope with both mental and physical pressure.
Applicants for this programme require a BA or an MA in Vocal Studies or a comparable degree.
Professional experience is not required.
To be accepted onto the programme, you will need the following:
Entire works and excerpts (repertoire) will be taught in the relevant opera languages (primarily Italian, German, French and English). The study languages are: English, German, French.
Foreign nationals require valid travel documents recognised by the Swiss government. A visa is often required. Exchange students must also apply for a residency permit and purchase health insurance before their studies begin. Please research your specific entry requirements carefully.
The aptitude assessment for the MA in Opera comprises two parts:
Aptitude test: Tue–Thu, 25.–27.4.2023
Please note the dates and deadlines below, plus the documentation and information required.
Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*
Tuition fees (per semester)
Tuition fees for international students*** (per semester)
Examination fee (per semester)
Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)
Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)
Leave of absence fee (per semester)
* The application fee can be paid by credit card or by deposit slip / paper invoice (+ CHF 10.– processing fee). There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications. The application is processed after payment has been received.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** International students are defined as persons of foreign citizenship who at the time of obtaining their university entrance qualification were domiciled under civil law neither in Switzerland nor the Principality of Liechtenstein.
There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.
Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course. There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.).
Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. To help in such cases, the HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support by covering the tuition fees from CHF 750 up to CHF 950. To apply for support, you need to take the following steps:
The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).
Applications for a waiver of the semester fees will only be considered and included in the selection process once the course offer has been.
Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents. Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.
Addresses for cantonal grant-awarding bodies (in german)
The websites EDK – Stipendien, stipendium.ch and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.
If you have any questions regarding scholarships and loans please contact Claire Brawand.
At Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH, we promote balance between study, work and family.
A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, the relevant documents can be found on the BFH Intranet. The fees are income-based and in line with the cantonal rates described in the Verordnung über die Angebote der sozialen Integration (Decree on Social Integration Offer ASIV) issued by the Canton of Bern. You can apply for a nursery place using the online form on the BFH Intranet. If you’re a new student or member of staff and don’t have access to the Intranet, please contact Corinne Badertscher (Tel. +41 (0)31 848 33 01, email@example.com). There is no legal entitlement to a nursery place.
Swiss students have to complete compulsory service while studying too. Make sure you start planning and coordinating your studies and compulsory service early.
We strongly encourage you to complete basic military training and your first block of civilian service before starting your studies. If you complete these activities during your studies, you may miss classes. As a result, the duration of your programme may increase.
You can get help with coordinating your studies and your compulsory service from our team of advisers.
Start date: Mon, 18.9.2023
Application deadline: Fri, 14.4.2023
Dates for aptitude assessment: Tue–Thu, 25.–27.4.2023
You should have the following documents available in electronic form
(passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB.
For foreigners, in addition:
If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section.
Bern University of the Arts
If you have any questions about the degree programme, please contact Karin Richter at the secretariat.
The home of the MA in Opera is the Swiss Opera Studio in the bilingual town of Biel/Bienne. Teaching and day-to-day communication are in German and French. Because of the international nature of our student intake, we also teach in English. Facilities include outstanding teaching and practice rooms; rehearsal stages and rehearsal studios for drama and stage training; good keyboard instruments, including harpsichords, for accompaniment and a collection of props and costumes. You will also have the option of working with video and sound. Along with the Music and Movement (Rhythmics) programme, Opera Studies is based in the ‘Burg’ in the heart of Biel/Bienne’s old town. We are very close to the Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, with whom we regularly collaborate. Collaborations and projects with other fields of study, particularly within the Music Division, take our students to other university sites in Bern, all of which are professionally equipped. Students have the opportunity to use the Music Division’s cutting-edge sound studios for their own projects. The staff there provide expert assistance, ensuring professional sound productions. HKB’s Music Library is a specialised academic library. It is available to all students and staff at HKB and to members of the public with an interest in music.
Jakob-Rosius-Strasse 16, Biel/Bienne and locations of the HKB in Bern