Becky Walsh, Head of Education

We’re into week 2 of Swanhunter rehearsals now, and it’s amazing to finally see and hear the team bringing it to life.  This project falls into the part of our education programme which introduces young people to opera for the first time.  Much of our other work takes place out in schools and communities, so for many people, Swanhunter will provide a first taste of opera on stage.  Many of these first-timers are children, and we want them to have a theatre experience which is ‘up-close-and-personal’.  Audiences will see it in small theatres where the singers are only inches away from the front row and where the mechanics of performance are on show.  This way the story-telling can be more intimate and the detail is visually and aurally more immediate.

As there aren’t many operas which can be told by a small cast and orchestra in this way, we decided to commission a new one.  We had the idea of ‘North’ in mind and wanted to find a story which would necessitate a musical retelling and would involve quests and thrilling adventure.  Having seen Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton’s Pinocchio, we knew they’d be the right people for the job!  They’ve unearthed an extraordinary story about the power of song, and their retelling is mind-blowingly brilliant.  And now it’s being playfully drawn off the page and onto the stage and will be a feast of movement and song!  Whilst it’s originally conceived for children and will tap into their imaginations, it’s definitely going to have universal appeal.  So children, bring your adults with you!

So now I can hardly wait for the opening night where we will get to see it for the first time in the Howard Assembly Room for which it has been specially designed.  And then we’re taking it on tour to theatres which seldom receive opera productions. I’m just really looking forward to seeing how audiences, young and old, respond to it.  I think it’s going to be a real hit!