Primary Opera Experience

Project Summary

The project was formed of a series of highly successful workshops in primary schools accompanying the Glyndebourne Tour, involving songwriting, performances by singers and activities to introduce opera. This was later developed by James Redwood into new operas for singers and Years 3-6, which were designed to be introduced, rehearsed and performed in school in a single morning. This project took the introduction of opera a stage further, with students actively participating with the opera singers and also being offered an overview of the fundamental elements of set, costume, story and music.

Cinderella (2005)

This 30 minute opera for Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 (7 to 11 years old), and 2 Glyndebourne singers, was based on a new version of the Cinderella story by Alison Fenner. Adapted by Hazel Gould and James Redwood, with set and costume by Ruth Paton, the piece involved 2 main characters, Cinderella and her sister Imogen, plus a ‘Chorus of Pigeons’ (played by Years 3 & 4) and a ‘Chorus of Parents’ (played by Years 5 & 6). Each school was sent a preparation pack before the workshop with the music that the groups needed to learn on a CD. During the morning, James spent 40 minutes with Years 3 & 4, then 50 minutes with years 5 & 6, checking they knew the music and the story, and teaching the music when they did not, through singing and games. Stretches of aria or sung dialogue were broken up with choruses from the pigeons (Cinderella’s only allies) and the Parents.

Still Water (2006)

In 2006 Glyndebourne commissioned a story inspired by Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for primary school KS2 pupils. In the 30 minute opera, Alison Fenner (librettist) set out to invent her own story using ideas from the original and James Redwood (composer), directed by Hazel Gould and designed by Kitty Callister and Gemma Craddock worked to create an engaging and interactive first experience of opera in which the children are both audience and performers alongside professional singers, set, costume, story and music. Schools were prepared with an introduction pack before their visit, and a workshop before the performance. The pack introduced the story, opera and the music, with lesson suggestions, a CD of music to learn and suggestions for follow-up work.

Two Truths (2007)

In 2007 Composer, James Redwood, and Librettist, Alison Fenner, wrote a new mini-opera entitled Two Truths , based on Verdi’s Macbeth . This new production toured round 14 primary schools, reaching a new audience of children from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6. The performance involves active participation from children in an opera, directed by Natascha Metherell and designed by Kitty Callister with singers from the Glyndebourne Chorus and the fundamentals of set, costume, story and music. More information Two Truths can be found here.

The Magic Flute (2008)

In 2008 animateur Dominic Harlan created a reduced version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute as part of Glyndebourne on Tour’s education programme. This new work was designed by Kitty Callister and featured 3 professional singers. The rest of the cast was made up by the 14 primary schools we visited with children from all year groups being set tasks beforehand to help them play their part. More information about this adaptation of The Magic Flute can be found here.