Friday 21 June 2019

Snappy Operas Festival: contemporary opera in bite-sized chunks

Over the last two years Mahogany Opera has created ten new ten-minute Snappy Operas, intended for young people aged 7 to 11, and composed by some of the UK's most exciting composers and writers. Now the company is launching its Snappy Opera Festival, from 28 June 2019 schools across the country will be coming together to perform Snappy operas involving children from Nortthampstonshire, West Cumbria, Suffolk, Nottingham, North Tyneside and Leicestershire.

Snappy Operas are intended to demystify all the essential elements of opera - singing, acting and making - in fun, bit-sized chunks. Each piece is fully staged and costumed, and can be performed by a class sized group of children divided into two sub-groups and accompanied by professional musicians. The 10 Snappy Operas have been created by some impressive names, Jamie Man and Stephen Plaice, Kerry Andrew, Nathan Williamson and Zanib Mian, Stephen Deazley and Matthew Harvey, Emily Hall and Toby Litt, Philip Venables and Ted Huffmann, Ed Hughes and Peter Cant (who were nominated for a British Composer Award in 2017), Luke Carver Goss and Ian McMillan, Gwyneth Herbert, Errollyn Wallen.

Luke Carver Goss with young people from Place Farm Primary Academy.
Luke Carver Goss with young people from Place Farm Primary Academy.
For the Snappy Opera Festival, Mahogany Opera is placing dedicated creative teams within each school, a director, music director, repetiteur and stage manager, who will deliver four two-hour sessions spread over a half term. The Snappy Opera Festival is culminating in performances where three to five schools will come together, each school performing one snappy opera.

The festival kicks off on 28 June at Nevill Holt Opera House in partnership with the David Ross Education Trust, then there are performances at Southwold Arts Festival in partnership with Southwold Music Trust (29 June), at Nottingham Playhouse in partnership with Nottingham Playhouse (1 July), in Whitley Bay in partnership with North Tyneside Music Education Hub (3 July), at Robert Smythe School, Market Harborough in partnership with Leicestershire Music Education Hub (4 July), and Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven in partnership with Rosehill Theatre (2 August).

With the intention of leaving a lasting legacy in schools, Mahoganny Opera has run a series of training days as part of the festival.

Frederic Wake-Walker, artistic director of Mahogany Opera, comments 'As I travel across the UK visiting primary schools I am bowled over by the enthusiasm and excitement that opera generates among children, teachers and parents but I’m also shocked and frustrated by the lack of resources, time and confidence to deliver it. What we’ve learned since launching the project in 2017 is that Snappy Operas delivers in a most holistic, compact and engaging way.'

Further information from the Mahogany Opera website.

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