Meet the Team

David Balcombe

Executive Director

A graduate of the University of Manchester's Drama Department, David has enjoyed a career in training young people in the arts, having been at the helm of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, Chickenshed Theatre Company and now British Youth Opera, which he joined in 2014. He also spent an exciting six years in live television working on all programming for ITN.

David is passionate about all aspects of the performing arts and a keen follower of current affairs and sport.


Stuart Barker

Director of Training and Productions 

Stuart Barker originally joined BYO as a trainee assistant director in 1994, and was appointed Director of Training and Productions in 2014. In addition to directing shows and running workshops for BYO, Stuart regularly works with singers at the major UK music colleges. He has a particular interest in combining opera with puppetry.


Lionel Friend

Music Director 

After conducting two productions for British Youth Opera, Lionel was appointed Music Director in 2015. His work as an international opera conductor has taken him to many parts of the globe, including Germany, France, Denmark, Poland, Australia and the USA. For 13 years Staff Conductor with English National Opera, he has also conducted concerts and opera productions at all of London’s music colleges as well as Birmingham Conservatoire and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.




Nicola Candlish

General Manager 

Nicola joined BYO in April 2018. Following a decade as a freelance opera Company and Stage Manager, Nicola moved to the Royal Academy of Music where she was Company Manager for Royal Academy Opera from 2014-18.

Nicola has a PhD in Electroacoustic Music from Durham University and spends much of her spare time volunteering with Girlguiding.


Bethany Moore

Head of Development 

Bethany joined BYO in January 2019. Previously working as Development Manager for Glyndebourne Opera House. Bethany has experience of working in Opera, Dance & Visual Arts organisations in Development and Education & Outreach roles. 

In her spare time Bethany enjoys writing and is the co-author of The Mulberry Bees; tales of music, fun and curious creatures for young children. 

Madeleine Woodley

Development and Administrative Assistant

Madeleine studied Music at Royal Holloway University of London, graduating with a 2:1 in July 2017.  Following a traineeship at Brighton Early Music festival, Madeleine joined British Youth Opera as Administrative Assistant in November 2017.

In her spare time Madeleine enjoys playing the Oboe in local orchestras and learning French!