Out of the Shadows

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

It's your move: W11 Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new opera

W11 Opera - It's your move
During lockdown in 2020, W11 Opera created an online opera, Jukebox, that celebrated the company's long history and mixed the children's self-recording footage with graphic illustrations to imaginative effect. To celebrate the company's 50th anniversary this year, the company commissioned a new opera especially for film. It's your move features an original story and script by Susan Moore and songs by Tim Yealland (Lyricist) and Russell Hepplewhite (Composer). 

Russell Hepplewhite has written two previous operas for W11 Opera, The Price and Ever Young as well as several operas for young people commissioned by English Touring Opera including the award-winning Laika the Spacedog [which I saw in 2013 with a cast including Susan Moore, now artistic director of W11 Opera, see my review].

The resulting film, It's your move, builds on lessons learned in 2020. It is created from illustrations by Chris Glynn and an amalgamation of online and in-person activities and rehearsals, self-recorded over three months with participants aged 9-18 from twenty schools.  All was then edited into an hour long film by Amy Banks.

Susan Moore comments "Using the lessons learned from our lockdown opera Jukebox last year, we commissioned a piece specifically to work on film rather than our usual stage production. By exploring their characters in a creative, safe space online and in person, this psychological, family-based drama, has allowed our young cast to work through many of the emotions we have all had to deal with through the lockdown and subsequent months".

W11 Opera was founded in 1971 and its open auditions attract a cast drawn from over 30 London schools (in both the private and state sectors), with full bursaries being offered to over 30% of the cast. For many of its participants, it is a first introduction to music theatre of any kind, and over the 50 years that W11 Opera has been in existence, more than two thousand children have appeared in 38 brand new commissions. 

It's your move is being shown on the W11 Opera website on 11 and 12 December. Tickets, by donation, from EventBrite.

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