Dr Christopher Newell

Lecturer in Digital Media

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education


01482 462167

Christopher Newell's principal interest is the performing voice. He was a professional opera and theatre director for 25 years mentored by Sir Peter Hall at Glyndebourne and the National Theatre.

He has a PhD in Computer Science and his research encompasses art and technology.

Dr Newell has contributed to the fields of computer-generated voices in creative contexts and for speech-related disabilities. He has also worked as a professional stage and multimedia designer.


Research Interests

  • Human computer interaction

  • Speech technology

  • Design

  • Theatre performance and opera

Research groups

  • The Creative Speech Technology (CreST) Network, set up by Dr Newell with Alistair Edwards at the University of York, enables collaboration between scientists and artists in the field of computer speech

  • Collaborated with the Toshiba Speech Technology Group on the development of emotional synthetic voices using actors

  • More info about collaborative projects can be found at Dr Newell's website


Newell C., ‘Interdisciplinary Support for Opera Practice in the UK’, In The Business of Opera, ed. Belina-Johnson A and Scott D. B., Ashgate (2015)

Newell C. and Newell G., ‘Opera Singers as Pop Stars: Opera within the popular music industry.’ In Opera in the Media Age. Ed. Fryer P., McFarland and Co (2014)

Newell C. and Barker P., 'Can a computer-generated voice be sincere? A case study combining music and synthetic speech'. Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, special edition on the CresT Network (2013)

Edwards A. and Newell C., ‘The Creative Speech Technology Network’, Communication Matters, Vol. 26. No. 3. pp. 46 - 48 (2013)

Newell C., Edwards A., Cairns P., 'Liveness' in human-machine interaction', International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 221 – 237 (2011)


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list


  • Interaction Experience and Engagement

  • Production Planning and Professional Skills

  • Designing for the Web

  • Creative Leadership and Entrepreneurship

  • Digital Content Management

  • Understanding Digital Media Tools and Platforms

Research PhDs

  • Computer speech

  • Interdisciplinary research and practice

  • New media production

  • Human-computer interaction

  • Opera and theatre directing

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the HEA

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • Diploma in Stage Management, Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1982)

  • Certificato in Italiano, Universita Italiana per Stranieri di Perugia (1982)

  • MSc (Distinction) Interactive Multimedia Production, University of Huddersfield (2001)

  • PhD Computer Science. Place, authenticity, and time: a framework for liveness in synthetic speech, University of York, 2009

External roles

  • Consultant for the Toshiba Research Europe in Cambridge in 2013

Awards and accolades

  • Awarded a Wingate Scholarship to research creative computer speech at the University of York (2010)

  • Awarded an EPSRC grant to develop the Creative Speech Technology Network (2010)

Professional highlights

Artistic directorships

  • Modern Music Theatre Troupe, producing innovative, exciting music theatre, and pioneering education and community work. Productions included 15 new commissions, community operas, and education projects leading to performances. Played venues and festivals across the UK, abroad, and major London venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Place Theatre. Compositions included premieres by William Craft and John Adams (1985-1998)

  • Pavilion Opera and Theatre Company, touring chamber opera and theatre internationally (1990–1992)

  • The Grand Opera House York, hosting a programme of national and international theatre, music and conferences, 1989-1990


  • MMTT was nominated for an Olivier Award (1994) and won the Prudential Opera Award (1995)

  • Mid Wales Opera, for whom Dr Newell directed The Barber of Seville (Rossini), Die Fledermaus (Strauss), The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach), Rigoletto (Verdi), The Magic Flute (Mozart) and La Cenerentola (Rossini), was one of three companies short-listed for a Prudential Opera Award.