It started in a tiny spare room with an old computer, a few box files, masses of enthusiasm and a dream. Like any nurturing project, the results took a few months to come through - and more than a fair share of love, devotion and dedication. But when they did bear fruit, the effort was immediately hailed as a triumph and greeted with applause.
Our very first workshop which included now the International Tenor James Nelson from the 3 Irish Tenors
Opera Brava's fame spread very quickly and Phillipa Davidson from TES The Times Edducational Supplement came to see our work in schools and gave a glowing review. "A few breathing exercises, a whistle stop tour through the history of opera from Handel to Gershwin and then it was the children's turn to see what they could make of the World Cup signature tune Nessun dorma. Shepperton children appeared to have no trouble in absorbing "overture", "recitative", "aria" and numerous foreign words. Gavin Wilson head said I would never have thought you could introduce children to opera. It's almost to daunting to think about. In the end it really doesn't matter if the children mix up Pavarotti and Puccini. It's been marvellous to find people with such skills who can hold the attention of their audience so brilliantly".
Pictures from Matthew King's The Selfish Giant at Wakehurst place in the 1990's
After another of Matthew King's composition The Prodigal Son and Alexis the Circus Boy by Jan Holford and Pat Belford then John Paynter's The space dragon of Galata Opera Brava then decided to expand it's work and move on to a very big project called The Promise based on Luke's gospel and the Acts of the apostles. This included 10 Opera Singers an Actor over 200 children and a 22 piece orchestra and premiered at The Queen Elisabeth Hall on the South Bank in 1997. This was repeated in 2000 and 2003 with different children and was a great success. The composer was Jill Townsend. Photos below
Next came C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia and what better than to start with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Ann Beresford collaborated with our Musical Director and then a wonderful young composer Jenny Gould had a very big input and then composed Prince Caspian.
Images of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe above
A couple of letters from Head teachers and then some amazing quotes from the children who have been involved with our projects over the years.
Boxted St Peter’s CEVC Primary School
Sent: Friday, March 4, 2016 8:30 PM
Subject: School workshop
I am writing to you from a school in North Colchester. Last year my daughter was lucky enough to be part of your Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe production at Brinkley Grove Primary. As one of the audience that afternoon, I was not alone in thinking it was one of the best school productions I have ever seen.
I am a Head Teacher at a school just ten minutes away from Brinkley and wondered if you had a vacancy in your timetable to work with our Key Stage Two children this summer. It would be an honour for our school to host the Opera Brava production of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, if you are available.
Laura Khine Head Teacher Boxted St Peter’s CEVC Primary School WebSite
Dear All 2015
Well what can I say - the children are buzzing and to quote "that was the most amazing thing ever!!!" Thank you once again for bringing such a special experience to our children. I am literally over the moon that I contacted you last year on the off chance that you would be available. Every child in this country should have this opportunity! What I love the most is that Opera is cool in our school! How cool is that!
James Headteacher, Heron Way Primary School, 01403261944 firstname.lastname@example.org
"I loved Opera Brava because we learnt all different warm-ups. Also I love that it gave people a lot of confidence to stand up in front of a crowd. Opera Brava was the best week of my life. I met lots of nice people, so THANK YOU."
"Opera Brava was a life-time opportunity. It was funny, joyful and EPIC, especially dressing-up. We could not do it without you."
"It was a great experience. It was all very tearful when it finished,but I can never forget this wonderful experience."
"My favourite part of Opera Brava was making the mask because I loved the paper mache, but the best bit was the show it was really fun. Last but not least I loved meeting all the people that helped us."
"I have learnt that you can have fun and you don't have to be a big part."
I found the singing was quite hard because my breath kept running out!."
"I really liked Opera Brava because I got to learn new stuff about music."
"I was having a great time out on the stage singing and acting. I wish it never ended".
Help Opera Brava enable the young people of today become the Artists of tomorrow