Opera Appetiser – a foretaste of our most exciting project ever
Last weekend (October 20/21) saw two days full of music and song as we hosted the lovely team from Leeds-based Opera North staging their Whistle Stop Opera across the Northern Heartlands area. These half-hour performances delighted audiences in Barnard Castle, Hamsterley, Shildon and Bishop Auckland, whetting our appetites for what promises to be an exciting year ahead. For in January 2019 we embark on our flagship project: a brand-new work created by the internationally renowned opera company.
We’ll be working with Durham-born composer Will Todd and the poet Tony Walsh with communities from the upper dales and former coalfield areas of SW Durham to find history and heritage from the past and hopes and dreams for the future and tell the story of our Great Place through music. The performance is planned for May 2020 when what we hope will be a huge cast of professionals and community members will stage the new work at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum in Shildon.
If audience reactions over the weekend were anything to go by, this is going to go down a storm. In every venue at the weekend we had people in the audience who had never been to an opera before. I spoke to people in the lovely gallery space at No 42 in Bishop Auckland who’d just come along to see what was going on; parents of children sitting in the front row said they had been completely mesmerised, whilst others said they’d really enjoyed the singing even though they never thought they would like opera.
And the three young singers and their accordion accompanist from Opera North were a joy to work with; bubbling with enthusiasm and energy and with voices that could melt your heart. The weekend’s taster has certainly left me hungry for more!