Brinkley Grove Primary School Rawlings Crescent, Colchester, Essex, CO4 9GF
A Foundation School
Headteacher Mr D Smith
Dear Opera Brava,
I wanted to get in touch to extend our profound thanks for your work with our Year 6 children last week.
The last two years have really affected the children who attend Brinkley Grove; despite our best efforts, with school closures came social isolation and a diminishing in confidence of many of our pupils. They spent more time than ever in front of screens and many of them missed out on so much.
However, the light of the end of the tunnel are experiences like the one afforded by Opera Brava. The ‘Opera Brava Week’ had been long awaited for this group of pupils, being booked many months ago. As the time came closer, the excitement and anticipation built.
It was an absolute joy to see the children really come to life under your expert guidance and support. The confidence gained by the children is truly remarkable and you were able to show the children a side of themselves that they did not even know they had.
In particular, there was one child who has significant learning needs and will be attending a specialist school in year 7 as he requires full-time support. In the past, he has had a very negative reaction to music but he was transformed during the course of the week to the point where he performed alongside his peers on stage. This is something we all thought would never happen.
Not only this, it was wonderful to see such broad participation and engagement of all our pupils. Many of our children and families have never experience opera before and for their children to go home so enthused and continually singing the songs has been very powerful.
We cannot thank you enough for your time, dedication, encouragement and inspiration. You havemade a lasting difference to our children.
Wishing you all the very best,
February this year Opera Brava performed "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" in Holy Trinity Primary School, Cuckfield, Sussex.
Here is their letter of thanks:
Dear Bronek, Mandy and everyone at Opera Brava,
I just wanted to put down into words what the past week has done for the children at Holy Trinity CE (A) School.
We are in awe of the impact that a week participating in Opera Brava has had on our Year 5 children. From the growth of self-belief and confidence to developing a love of theatre and opera, every single one of our 58 children has been positively impacted.
To name a few… for children who struggle with their learning, being chosen as a main character because they were ‘the best of the best’ has done wonders for their self-belief. In addition, to have their peers cheering them on and telling them how fantastic they are; and teachers from across the school telling them that they are “made for the stage” or “they were brought to tears from how beautiful their performance was” has and will be a vital step in developing them into the confident and happy children we strive to build at Holy Trinity.
Secondly, for children who struggle to sit still and listen in lessons, being able to dance around, sing and act and not be expected to sit at a desk, has been like a breath of fresh air.
Thirdly, for children who have never sung a note in their lives or ever appeared on stage, this has been an eye-opening experience for them. We have had children who have always wanted to be a football player now thinking a career in the theatre is more fitting!
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, for children whose worst nightmare was once to get up and perform in front of a room full of people, Opera Brava has given them the confidence to overcome their fears. There was not one child on the stage who didn’t have a huge smile on their face throughout the performance. There was a real buzz in the classroom after the final performance. The only thing they were disappointed about was that it was all over but they all agreed that they had an amazing time and were so proud of themselves.
We would like to wholeheartedly say thank you on behalf of our children, parents and school, and we hope that we have the pleasure of working with you again.
With very best wishes, The Year 5 team at Holy Trinity School.
And here is what the students of Holy Trinity School had to say:
"If anyone wants to invite Opera Brava to come into their school, then don’t hesitate. They interacted with us really well and pushed us to our limits which resulted in an amazing performance. The costumes they bring in are great but you also get to make your own headgear. The props are amazingly decorated to fit the scene and the story is excellently weaved in with the songs that you and the professionals sing. They are friendly and play fun warm up-games. We learnt how to interact and sing with each other in a large team activity. I would definitely recommend this experience to other schools."
Written by Thomas
"I think I have learnt a lot from this experience, especially resilience. When you get something wrong, you just have to keep trying again and again until you get it right. We were taught the saying “An amateur keeps trying until they get it right, but a professional keeps trying until they never get it wrong,” and so we kept trying and in the end, we got it."
"I would definitely recommend this to other schools because my whole year had heaps of fun and it really helps with confidence building, and teamwork."
"Overall, I would give this experience 5 stars! I just want to say an enormous thank you to all of the team for coming to my school."
Written by Millie
"During our Opera Brava week, we learnt about lots of different ways to improve our singing in different warm up activities. I really enjoyed learning about how real opera productions are made and I especially enjoyed creating all of our props."
Written by Paige
"Opera Brava was an amazing experience for me. I loved that we could design and make props. I loved that professional people came to teach us to do Opera Brava! I also loved that everyone could be part of the play, so no-one was left out."
Written by Liliana
"I think the purpose of this was to experience something none of us have done before; I learnt about a different style of music - Opera. It really made me more confident to speak in front of an audience and now I feel like I can do it all over again without getting nervous at all. This was the most fun week I’ve ever had in school and I didn't want it to end!"
Written by Aaron
"Opera Brava was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. My favourite part had to be making and designing the props. I'm also so glad that there were professionals teaching us. As well, everyone (main part or not) had the best time."
Written by Indy
"I really liked Opera Brava. We did The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Everyone was super nice and friendly and if you didn’t know something, they would help you. I liked learning and singing all of the songs and then putting it on stage and performing it to the whole school. It was really fun. It felt like we were in a real West End show!"
Written by Josie
"I think other schools would absolutely love Opera Brava because it is a real confidence booster and gets you to like singing. Also what kid doesn't like a whole school week of no lessons!?"
Written by Oliver
"When Opera Brava came in, I was so excited. I learnt a lot about opera singing and loved the games. My favourite one they did was “I saw a little birdy sitting in a tree”. I also loved leaning about the Italian vowels. They sound very similar to English vowels."
Written by Sophia
"Last week Opera Brava came to our school. I absolutely loved it! I really enjoyed learning all the songs, I’d never done anything like that before, I was surprised how good it was. It was also brilliant for our parents to see us enjoying school so much, they all clapped a lot during the performance. I would definitely recommend it to other schools because it was the best week of school I’ve ever had."
Written by Arlo
“We learnt lots of things... most of all how to have fun and be confident on stage”
“It gave me the confidence to try other things I might think I can’t do”
“I really enjoyed the singing because I found that when I sang I got thrown into the world of Narnia and it felt like I understood all the emotion and power just from singing a few bars”
“I learnt that there is so much more to singing than just tuning your voice”
“Opera Brava helped us to look deeper into things instead of just looking at the surface, it taught us to dig deeper”
“Most importantly we shared the experience as a whole class, I think the purpose was to bring us together through music”
“My overall opinion was that this was flawless, and the boundaries were endless, it really was an amazing opportunity. I would really recommend it to other schools and communities as it is a great experience for any aged children.”
“I found that it helped me to build up my confidence with singing/ acting.”
“I loved Opera Brava and I will remember all those memories forever and ever.”
Through the schools' program the children work with a range of professional individuals to develop their knowledge and enjoyment of music and at the end of the week they perform in a fully staged opera.
Opera Brava started working in schools in 1998 creating their own workshops and bringing in composers to work alongside them. Their first piece was the "Space Dragon of Galatar" by John Painter. Then came the premiere of two modern and challenging mini operas, "The Prodigal Son" and "The Selfish Giant" by Matthew King, now an internationally renowned composer.
A large scale work was then commissioned called "The Promise" this was written by Jill Townsend based on Luke‘s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The Promise premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London in 1997. It involved 200 or more children, 10 opera singers an actor and a 22 piece orchestra. This Opera was repeated twice more giving hundreds of children from many varying backgrounds the opportunity to perform.
Opera Brava then decided to work with the wonderful "Chronicles of Narnia" by C. S. Lewis. First came "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" composed by Ann Beresford. Then later Opera Brava commissioned an enthusiastic young composer, Jenny Gould, to write a second opera based on CS Lewis’s book, "Prince Caspian".
These operas have been very successful over many years and the children have loved working with opera singers, designers a composer and a director. They also spend time during the workshops designing and creating masks and props their hard work culminates in putting on a fully staged opera for their parents peers and teachers at the end of the week.
"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. Every child in this country should have this opportunity! What I love most is that opera is cool in our school! How cool is that!" Headteacher Heron Way primary school.
"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 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 lifetime 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 papier mache, but the best bit was the show it was really fun. Last but not least I love 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’ve got to learn new stuff about music."
"I was having a great time on the stage singing and acting. I wish it never ended."
To learn more about how we could work in your local school, please contact Bronek Pomorski on 01444 443060 or email@example.com.