Till the Summer Comes Again (2012)

Project Summary

Over 150 local young people worked with professional artists and musicians to make a new performance that was a creative response to the environment. Inspired by the new wind turbine that powers the theatre, and the opera that takes place in the festival and on tour, Glyndebourne Youth Opera and Youth Company presented Till the Summer Comes Again, an evening of music, performance and artwork about our environment and our young citizens’ place within it through four sections on 9 December 2012.

It was Born of the Stars

Composed by Russell Hepplewhite, the theme of It was Born of the Stars focused on the seasons for the song cycle and selected poems that the cast found inspiring, before being placed in a logical order to tell the story of a year in time passing. The poems were taken from various periods of literature, and included both well-known and less famous works. The title of the cycle was taken from the first poem by Mallarme (A Throw of the Dice).

At the centre of the piece were four poems; each relating to one of the seasons. The poems linked to the theme, and gave yet another perspective on nature and time.

The cycle revolved around just one instrument – the harp. There is something other-worldly about this instrument, and the fact that harps in one form or another have been around since 3500 BC made it the perfect choice to connect with the theme of time passing as seasons change. Each of the poems was cast in a different mode; and each mode was selected for its unique musical colours.


  • Extract from A Throw of the Dice by Mallarme (1842-1898)
  • The Cuckoo (Anon)
  • Summer Stars by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
  • Extract from To Autumn by John Keats (1795-1821)
  • Winter by Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
  • Under the Water by Walter de la Mare
  • Here are the Skies by A. E. Housman (1859-1936

New Arrivals & Going Without

New Arrivals

The piece borrowed the idea of furniture brought to life from Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Julian Philips’s The Yellow Sofa. The furniture is given a voice and character to comment on the action around them. The cast sang music from both operas, with musical themes and motifs identified at the start of the project to use when devising. The cast were responsible for creating the identities of the characters and wrote text and melody to create the final piece.

Going Without

In wanting to explore themes of people making up their environments, Puccini’s La bohème seemed an obvious choice for a devising point. The piece featured repertoire and musical motifs from the opera that the cast used when devising their own music and song-writing.

When the Waters Rise

The story takes place in a town ‘someplace’ that could be in England, in a time not too distant from now. Constant rainfall and swelling rivers mean water levels are rising. At first it feels like a game: it’s fun to be tramping through water and splashing in puddles, but soon enough the reality becomes more serious. The inhabitants of the town face a difficult decision; do they pack up and leave their homes, livelihoods and families to start afresh on higher ground or stay put and wait, seeing their lives slowly fill with water and experiencing the devastation first hand? How will they start a new life elsewhere and what will happen to those who choose to remain?

Inspired by the central dilemma in Dvořák’s Rusalka, the cast examined the difficulties of deciding to leave home to pursue a better life. For Rusalka the decision to leave the life she knows as a water nymph is one taken out of love. Within this story, the inhabitants of ‘someplace’ are forced to choose between the life they know, which is under threat, or a new life, which is safe from the risk of flooding but is also separated from their previous lives. Dvořák’s musical themes as well as the story of Rusalka inspired this creation and help us tell our story. When the Waters Rise included Dvořák’s original music and pieces inspired by the music and the themes of difficult choices, absence and loss.

Four Ages of Man

Inspired by Purcell’s 1692 semi-opera, The Fairy Queen, GYO members explored the ancient mythological concept of the four ages of man using music from the masque of the seasons. From sunrise to sunset, spring to winter and from cradle to grave: a day in the life or a lifetime in a day.

Creative Team

Music Directors Russell Hepplewhite, Matt Greenwood, Lee Reynolds & Lea Cornthwaite
Directors Natalie Roberts, Freya Wynn-Jones, Lucy Bradley & Karen Gillingham
Associate Artist Rachel Taylor
Movement Director Kieran Sheehan
Visual Artist Bern O’Donoghue
Accompanist Ashley Beauchamp