Northern Heartlands Community Opera May 2020 at Locomotion Shildon

    Over the weekends of 19th and 20th January and 2nd and 3rd February, the Creative Team from Opera North with Northern Heartlands ran 8 workshops across different venues in our area starting in Barnard Castle on a sunny Saturday and ending in St John’s Chapel on a snowy Sunday.

    We were joined in the 8 workshops by enthusiastic and curious community members from all backgrounds and ages; no one knew what to expect from the workshops but at the end of each one, everybody was buzzing with excitment and creative energy.  We uncovered some fine singers, poetic souls, heart-warming and gut wrenching stories and some beautiful objects all of which highlighted how special our part of County Durham is.

    It will take over a year to make this opera.  The final performances will be in the main exhibition building (among the trains!) at Locomotion, in Shildon, County Durham in May 2020.

    The opera will tell the story of County Durham, of its coal and lead-mining, its industrial heritage, its farming and fabulous scenery, of early Christians and ancient pilgrims and of railways.  Above all it will be a story about the people who live here.  It will be your story.

    There will be lots of ways to take part – not just on stage but behind the scenes too.  Sign up to keep in touch and be part of the opera on our “What’s Happening” page and look out on social media on @NHeartlands for updates.

    Meet the Creative Team:

    Will Todd, Composer

    English composer Will Todd (originally from Durham) is well known for his beautiful and exciting music. His anthem, The Call of Wisdom, was performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a TV audience of 45 million people. His breakthrough work, Mass in Blue, has been performed hundreds of times all over the world. His arrangement of Amazing Grace was performed at President Obama’s Inauguration Day prayer service in 2013 and as part of the BBC’s Nelson Mandela Thanksgiving Service.

    Tony Walsh, Librettist (writer)

    Overcoming childhood poverty and illness, then working everyday jobs in the communities of his beloved home city of Manchester, Tony Walsh (aka Longfella) has risen in recent years to become one of the UK’s most widely recognised and most in-demand professional poets. His work came to worldwide attention in May 2017 when broadcast globally from the vigil for victims of the arena bomb outrage in Manchester. His performance trended worldwide on social media and his poem, This Is The Place, entered the folklore and fabric of the city he’s still proud to call home – painted onto walls, recited in schools, re-mixed by DJs, even tattooed onto skin.

    Caroline Clegg, Director

    As a director Caroline has 25 years’ experience alongside a career as a performer in West End musicals, regional theatre and national TV (including appearances in Coronation Street) which began in 1984. In 1994 she founded the award winning Feelgood Theatre Productions which specialises in site-specific theatre.  Feelgood Theatre is a regionally based company that tours into the West End and internationally. She is no stranger to the world of opera, and combines her theatre directing with regular work for Welsh National Opera, Opera North and the Hallé Orchestra as well as work as a freelance tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music.


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