Tuesday 25 June 2019

Garsington's Youth Opera Company to premiere Paul Fincham's debut opera The Happy Princess at Wormsley in August

Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals Sam Furness with the community chorus in 2017 (Photo John Snelling)
Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals, Sam Furness
with the community chorus in 2017 (Photo John Snelling)
In 2017, Garsington Opera staged Roxanna Panufnik and Jessica Duchen's Silver Birch, an opera whose performers combined professionals with a significant number of members of the local communities, from children to adults. This event was part of Garsington Opera's significant Learning and Participation programme which now extends to a Youth Opera Company which covers both Primary Schools and Secondary Schools, plus the Adult Community Company. This is in addition to the Opera First programme, where a team goes into a school to do workshops on and introduce an opera, and the participants are invited to a performance at Wormsley given by Garsington Opera's Alvarez Young Artists.

This year, a new opera has been commissioned for the Youth Company (80 young people aged 8 to 21), The Happy Princess by composer Paul Fincham. Based on Oscar Wilde's story The Happy Prince, the opera updates the action to the present and transforms the prince into a princess. It will be premiered on 2 August 2019 on Garsington Opera's main stage at Wormsley when the Youth Opera Company will be joined by soprano soprano Lara Marie Müller who won the Garsington Opera 2017 Simon Sandbach Award, and a professional chamber ensemble. It will be conducted by Jonathon Swinard, Head of Music at Garsington Opera, with Karen Gillingham (director), Suzi Zumpe (vocal director) and Ruth Paton (designer). The libretto for the opera is by Jessica Duchen, librettist of Silver Birch.

Fincham studied music at Cambridge where he was musical director of the Cambridge Footlights (where a fellow students included Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Nicholas Hyntner). But he did first career completely unrelated to music. After a 30 year career he took the plunge and became a full time composer. He wrote the music for the film Reason to Leave, starring Claire King, going on to win the best original score award at the London International Filmmakers’ Festival in 2017. The Happy Princess is his first opera.

Further details from the Garsington website.

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