Thursday 22 October 2020

The Soldier's Return: Opera Sunderland takes its latest community opera on-line

Austin Gunn, Andri Bjorn Robertsson, Magnus from Meerkat filming The Soldier's Return
Austin Gunn, Andri Bjorn Robertsson, Magnus from Meerkat filming The Soldier's Return

Opera Sunderland's 2020 project was The Soldier;s Return, a new opera by the Spanish compser Marcos Fernandez-Barrero (who studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Royal College of Music) inspired by present day war veterans’ real life experiences. The piece was due to be premiered by professional soloists and a community chorus, but no sooner had the 40-strong intergenerational community chorus been recruited than the UK went into Lockdown in March. The result was a re-think, and The Soldiers Return was re-cast as a film which will premiere on Remembrance Sunday.

Opera Sunderland's artistic director Alison Barton explains, "We decided to collaborate with award-winning North East film makers Meerkat Films and sound engineer Ian Stephenson at Simpson Street Studios to produce The Soldier’s Return as a film instead of a live production. Social distancing rules have meant taking an approach more akin to producing a pop video than an opera, but although it’s quite an experimental approach in the classical music world, it is tried and tested in other genres such as pop and rock. It’s a case of the show must go on, and it will!” 

The Soldier’s Return is drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent and ongoing combat situations. It explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home, not only on the soldiers themselves, but also their families and their relationship with the wider community. The opera features music by Marco Fernandez-Barrero with a libretto by Jacob Polley, directed by Annie Rigby, musical director Marco Romano, with a cast including Ian Priestly, Katherin Aitken, Austin Gunn, and Andri Björn Róbertsson, and a community chorus, filmed by a team from Meerkat Films.

The Solider's Return premieres on 8 November 2020, further details from the Opera Sunderland website.

1 comment:

  1. I'm an opera lover from Sunderland, but haven't lived in there since 1981. I have lived in Mexico City, Abu Dhabi and Kazakhstan for the last sixteen years, so I hear less about culture in the North East, but I had never heard of Opera Sunderland. Thanks!
    Phil Davison


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