The beginning of Belongings – a new youth opera

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On Sunday 7 May the cast and creative team of Belongings, our new youth opera, will come together for the first time.

Belongings is a brand new work composed by Lewis Murphy (Glyndebourne’s Young Composer-in-Residence) exploring the experiences of young people forced by war to flee their homes.

To mark this important milestone in the world-premiere’s journey we caught up with director Lucy Bradley and librettist Laura Attridge about their thoughts on the project.

Lucy Bradley was the Assistant Director for Nothing, Glyndebourne’s acclaimed 2016 youth opera. Photo: Sam Stephenson.

‘Working to create a new opera always feels hugely exciting,’ says director Lucy Bradley, ‘but with Belongings there is an additional sense of significance because of its subject matter. Belongings explores the stories of two groups of children across two time periods who are forced to flee their homes because of war. Our performers will be stepping into the shoes of young people just like them – children and teenagers with the same aspirations and dreams, but who, through geography have been born into different circumstances. By making this piece together we are encouraging the 70 young performers to look at the world around them, to engage politically and to make real connections in their local communities.’

Conductor Lee Reynolds and Director Lucy Bradley in rehearsals for their previous project, Tycho’s Dream in 2014. Photo: Sam Stephenson

A company of young people from the local area have been cast alongside three professional soloists. ‘I love working with young people because of the raw energy they bring to rehearsals and performance,’ says Lucy, ‘They have an innate ability to play which makes them incredibly interesting to watch and great fun to work with.’

Lucy previously co-directed Tycho’s Dream, a youth opera composed by Luke Styles (our former Young Composer-in-Residence). You can watch the full performance of Tycho’s Dream online here.

Lewis Murphy also composed A Garden Dream which was performed during the interval of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Festival 2016. Photo: Sam Stephenson.

Librettist Laura Attridge gives an insight into the genesis of the piece: ‘We wanted to create a piece about human connection. The significance of empathy factors into every aspect… I did a lot of research around trauma. This had its biggest impact in the decision to fragment the narrative echoing the fragmentation of the self through trauma.’ Laura also led workshops last summer with Conductor Lee Reynolds for Glyndebourne Youth Opera members. ‘It helped me fully imagine the world of the piece and the characters I was creating; I am so excited to see the young people bring these to life on stage.’

Lucy Perry, Glyndebourne’s Head of Education said:

‘2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Glyndebourne Youth Opera and Belongings continues our commitment to commissioning challenging new work with significant contemporary relevance. It is essential for Glyndebourne to provide the space for young people to engage with the world around them’.

Belongings will embrace the power of opera to tell a human story, one that could happen to any of us.’
- Director Lucy Bradley

See Belongings this autumn

Belongings is on stage on Saturday 11 November 2017. Public booking opens on 1 June. Find out more here.

On Friday 10 November there will be a Belongings performance for schools. Given the high demand for these performances, tickets are allocated by ballot. The deadline for applications is Friday 12 May.