Opera houses open their doors for European Opera Days

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Opera houses across the country open their doors for a weekend of events to celebrate European Opera Days

UK opera companies are joining forces with 100 opera houses in 22 countries to present a weekend of activities to celebrate European Opera Days.

Taking place on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th May 2010, European Opera Days is coordinated by Opera Europa, the European organisation for professional opera companies and festivals, and RESEO, the European Network for Opera and Dance Education.

Now in its fourth year, European Opera Days sees opera companies unite through a weekend of events to make a strong statement that opera is relevant to today’s society and accessible to everyone.

Opera houses across Europe and further afield invite a range of people including opera aficionados, newcomers, neighbours, young people and children to join them for activities celebrating the art of opera and the talent of those who make it.

With the aim of raising and maintaining the profile of opera through exposure and insight into the multi-faceted nature of the artform, this annual event is geared towards encouraging the formation of new relationships with audiences and strengthening existing ones.

Echoing European Opera Days’remit with their already-established access programmes, opera houses from Inverness to Aldeburgh will be buzzing with activities across the weekend to showcase their work, including creative workshops, open rehearsals, guided tours of theatres and meetings with artists.

This year, activities will focus on the theme of’crossing bridges’- bridges between opera companies and their neighbourhoods, between opera and other creative artforms and between cultures- showing how opera is inspired and influenced by the world around us.

English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North, the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera will all host a range of events in recognition of European Opera Days.

English National Opera (ENO)
ENO has commissioned a new series of podcasts aimed at younger audiences that tell the story of operas in a concise and engaging way. The first two in the series are Tosca, written by acclaimed children’s author Sally Gardner, and The Pearl Fishers , recreated and told by writer and broadcaster Ian McMillan. ENO launches the podcasts online on the 8th May alongside a competition inviting people of all ages to write their own operatic tale. The winners will have their stories made in to podcasts and read by a known actor. www.eno.org

English Touring Opera
ETO will present The Starry Welkin , a brand new interactive work for 4 to 8 year-olds composed by Kate Pearson. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream , it is the perfect introduction to opera, Shakespeare, and some key orchestral instruments. It will be performed by ETO singers and musicians in schools and theatres around the country. Opens Saturday 8th May at 12pm; Britten Studio, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, £5 (under 27s half price) 01728 867 110 www.englishtouringopera.com

Glyndebourne Opera House
Building on its commitment to accessibility through the exploration of digital content, Glyndebourne will stream its production of Falstaff from the 2009 Festival online in collaboration with plushmusic.
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th May “www.glyndebourne.com”:

Opera North
Opera North is holding a range of events including impromptu performances around Leeds, a day of singing, puppetry and music workshops inspired by a revival of The Adventures of Pinocchio , a screening of Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute , and a chance for young people to attend a rehearsal of Dvorák’s Rusalka . There will also be 100 La bohéme tickets available to Leeds residents who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend. www.operanorth.co.uk

Royal Opera House
As part of its Insight Programme which aims to engage as many people as possible with opera and ballet, the Royal Opera House will hold a day of singing, music and drama workshops for 60 participants aged between 9–12 years-old, who will be starting out as members of ROH’s first Youth Opera Company. This will be the first time that they and their families will come together as a group to experience the work of professional ROH artists. At the same time, crossing the bridge from occasional opera audience member to becoming a regular supporter, a group of recently joined Friends of Covent Garden will have the opportunity to attend a post-performance discussion after the general rehearsal of La traviata with members of the cast and production team, including conductor Yves Abel and revival director Paul Higgins.
Saturday 8 May

Scottish Opera
Scottish Opera will be in Inverness with performances of La bohème. Enhancing this is La bohème Unwrapped, a free hour-long taster session giving insight into the production. Also on offer, Baby Ointroduces 6-18 month-old babies and their parents to a world of sound and song through an interactive sensory and auditory experience in which singers create a magical musical soundscape.
Friday 7th and Saturday 8th May.

Welsh National Opera
There will be performances from members of the Welsh National Opera Singing Club, aged 10-14. Visitors will be treated to guerrilla opera – undercover members of WNO Chorus singing impromptu scenes from Carmen – in the restaurant and bar. There will also be the chance to see props from productions together with screenings of documentary work commissioned by WNO, including Surf Tailz and Opera Express.

Notes to editors:

European Opera Days is a joint initiative from Opera Europa and RESEO, in partnership with La Réunion des Opéras de France, Ópera XXI and the UK’s National Opera Coordinating Committee.

Opera Europa is the European organisation for opera companies and festivals. By increasing communication and interaction between opera houses, and by holding synchronised open days and events across Europe, Opera Europa hopes to promote and sustain awareness of opera as an artform to new and diverse audiences.

RESEO, the European Network for Opera and Dance Education, is the European platform for the development of opera education. It acts as a forum for the exchange of best practice in the field of opera and dance education via conferences, research, projects and events, thus enhancing quality education work to bring opera and dance to all.