Wednesday 5 April 2023

Borka & Pandora: new operas for young people from London Youth Opera and Ignite

Stuart Hancock and Donald Sturrock's The Cutlass Crew with W11 Opera (now London Youth Opera) in 2017
Stuart Hancock and Donald Sturrock's The Cutlass Crew with W11 Opera (now London Youth Opera) in 2017

It's all go in the world of opera for children. After two online productions, W11 Opera is back with a new commission and a new name, London Youth Opera, whilst their former artistic director, Sue Moore, has formed her own company, Ignite, 

W11 Opera is now called London Youth Opera, which gives a far clearer idea of the company's aims, and they remain the only opera company exclusively staging original commissions written for, and performed exclusively by, children. For 2023, they have commissioned a new opera, Pandora's Box to be premiered in December 2023 at the Susie Sainsbury Theatre in the Royal Academy of Music. Pandora's Box is being written by Stuart Hancock (composer) and Donald Sturrock (librettist), the duo responsible for the popular W11 Opera productions, Raindance (2010) and Cutlass Crew (2017), whilst Stuart Hancock is perhaps best known for his scores to BBC’s Atlantis and the animated movie adaptation of We’re Going On A Bear Hunt [see my 2020 interview with Stuart]. Pandora's Box will be directed by Valentina Ceschi.

It will be a modern take on the Greek myth, exploring and satirising themes around 21st-century family life with fabulous characters - from gods to mortals and the three sins Greed, Envy and Vanity - driving the drama's turmoil. Pandora's Box is being performed by London Youth Opera on 16 & 17 December 2023, further detail from their website.

Sue Moore's new company, Ignite, uses professional performers to create opera, theatrical narrated concerts and music theatre for young people and family audiences. For their 2023 production, they are performing Borra by Russell Hepplewhite (composer) and Tim Yealland (librettist), based on the book Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with no Feathers by John Burningham which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. 

Russell Hepplewhite: Borka - Ignite

 was premiered by English Touring Opera in 2014 [see my review], in fact with Sue Moore as one of the singers. Ignite's production, directed by Sue Moore, previews at The Cockpit on 20 & 21 May 2023, and it premieres on 29 May 2023 at the Hay Festival and further tour dates will be announced, see Ignite's website.

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