Opera North Blog

Naughty children beware!


Opera is a great choice for children with its fantastic costumes, wonderful sets, amazing voices and incredible music.

This Autumn, as part of The Little Greats season, Opera North is performing magical matinee shows of Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) in Leeds, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Salford. This 45-minute opera is ideal for families with children aged 7+ and you can join in with an interactive workshop before the show. 

10 Reasons L'enfant et les sortilèges is perfect for all the family:
1. It’s fun to watch

Ravel's opera is a fast-moving tale of one boy’s magical journey of transformation and discovery and all the weird and wonderful characters he meets along the way. Children who like to let their imaginations run wild with books like Alice in WonderlandWhere the Wild Things Are or A Series of Unfortunate Events will love the fantastical storyline which was written by the famous French writer, Colette. The work started life as a 'fairy ballet', so you can expect some fancy footwork too.

2. It’s only 45 minutes long

If you think opera goes on for hours, think again. L'enfant et les sortilèges is only 45 minutes long, so it's a really easy way to give opera a go. It also means there's no interval to interrupt the action on stage.

3. It starts with a scene you may well recognise...

The opera begins with a young boy refusing to do his homework before taking his anger and frustration out on everything in his room after his mother tells him off. It isn't long however before things take a much more sinister turn when his surroundings, including his Arithmetic, start to come to life. And it’s set to get stranger still when he heads out into the garden…

4. It’s easy to understand

Although the opera is sung in French, the words are translated into English on screens at the side of the stage and the action is so wonderfully dramatic that you'll always know what’s going on. 

5. There's a wacky cast of characters

This is the only opera to feature a teapot and china cup duo, a pair of chatty felines, a talking armchair and a singing squirrel! Many of the singers appear in more than one role - see if you can spot them in their different guises.

6. The costumes are great

Costume Designer Hannah Clark has created some really quirky and original designs to bring the opera to life. Look out for Fire leaping out of the fireplace and the armchair in the room slowly turning into a person before your very eyes. 

7. The music is magical

Ravel’s score is crazy! The Orchestra of Opera North have to play some amazing tunes with the more unusual instruments including a slide whistle and wind machine. There's even a song made up entirely of ‘meows’. Of course, with this being opera, you can also expect wonderful singing (without a microphone!).

To listen to some of the music, visit the L’enfant et les sortilèges webpage >> Gallery >> Audio.

8. You might recognise some of the singers

Once upon a time… many of the singers in L'enfant et les sortilèges also appeared in our Fairy Tale Season. That means you can look forward to seeing Wallis Giunta, who sang Cinderella, taking on the role of The Child – yes, he's a boy, but the part is always sung by a girl! - and the return of Hansel and Gretel with Katie Bray (Hansel) singing Louis XIV Chair, Female Cat and Owl; and Fflur Wyn (Gretel) as Fire, Nightingale and the storybook Princess.

9. Children go for £5

Tickets for the matinee performance are just £5 for children at Leeds Grand Theatre and at all the touring venues: Hull New Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal and The Lowry, Salford Quays, making it an affordable way to try something new.

10. Find out more at a special Family Workshop

Before seeing the opera, there's the chance to discover all about it with an interactive The Child and the Magic Spells Family Workshop. Ideal for anyone who loves music, singing and drama, or who is simply curious to find out more, the workshop will be led by artists from Opera North, who will help both adults and children to get to know the characters better, explore the plot, master a handful of French words, and sing some of Ravel’s enchanting music. Tickets are £5 per person.

L'enfant et les sortilèges family workshops and matinee performances are being held at:

Sat 7 October 11.45am Workshop Howard Assembly Room
  2.15pm Matinee Leeds Grand Theatre
Sat 28 Oct 11.45am Workshop Hull New Theatre
  2.15pm Matinee Hull New Theatre
Sat 4 November 11.30am Workshop Theatre Royal, Nottingham
  2.15pm Matinee Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Sat 11 November 11.45am Workshop Theatre Royal, Newcastle
  2.15pm Matinee Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Sat 18 November 11.45am Workshop The Lowry, Salford Quays
  2.15pm Matinee The Lowry, Salford Quays

L'enfant et les sortilèges is part of Opera North's season of The Little Greats, short operas with huge emotions. 


L'enfant et les sortilèges artwork. Photo: Richard Moran/ Opera North
Colette in Paris. Photo: Bright Star
Wallis Giunta as The Child during rehearsal. Photo; Tom Arber

Costume designs artwork by Hannah Clark
Fflur Wyn and Katie Bray in Hansel and Gretel at Opera North, 2017. Photo: Robert Workman

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