Opera North Blog

Creating Opera in a Week


Forty enthusiastic young people descended on the University of Leeds School of Music during their Easter holidays to take part in Opera North’s lively and fast-paced Opera Challenge.

With the help of director Jonathan Ainscough and Pettman Dare Fellow Adam Thompson, the participants were set the task of creating their very own fairy tale-themed opera in a week — enabling them to experience at first hand the pressure which cast and creative teams work under when preparing for an opening.

As the clock counted down, the children took part in a series of workshops exploring all aspects of staging an opera including mastering lighting and set design with the Leeds University Union; making music come to life with vocal delivery artists, Sarah Ogden and Matt Roughley; and spreading the word with Opera North Head of Marketing, Emily Simpson.

Wednesday saw a visit by Opera North Chorus Master, Olly Rundell, together with members of the Chorus of Opera North. This was a wonderful chance for the Opera Challengers to meet and sing alongside the Chorus, as well as learning a few tricks of the trade from the professionals.

The group discovered just how high a soprano can go (high!), the range of a baritone, and the power and strength of an opera singer’s voice at very close quarters – and not a microphone in sight.

They’re amazing! They’re incredible! I want to become as good as them.

— Opera Challenge participant

The final performance took place in front of family and friends in the Riley Smith Hall at Leeds University Union where the young creatives were joined by mezzo-soprano Louise Collett. All the hard work paid off as the group proceeded to impress everyone with what they had achieved in such a short space of time.

I really like this Opera Challenge because you’re in lots of different groups of people and you sing some opera, which I love.

— Opera Challenge participant

Photo credit: Tom Arber

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