At The National Centre for Early Music in York recently, over 100 young children and their parents were taken on a spell-binding journey through the exciting, intriguing, and often bizarre, world of opera.
Their guide was Claire Pascoe from the Chorus of Opera North who was joined for the occasion by a wind quintet from the Orchestra of Opera North featuring flute, oboe, clarinet/ bass clarinet, bassoon and horn.
The production was written by award-winning storyteller, Ursula Holden Gill who worked with Claire Pascoe to create a bewitching story, weaving together music, singing, characters and plots from a number of different operas including Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.
With enchantment at the heart of the story, it was important for the audience to be able to help in the casting of spells. Handfuls of sparkly sequins, colourful ribbons, shiny stars and even some googly eyes were used by the children to make their own wands ready for some extra special magic-making during the performance.
Opera Tales had previously been staged in four primary schools in the cities where Opera North tours - Nottingham, Newcastle, Salford and Hull - taking opera into the classroom and reaching 755 young pupils from Nursery to Year 2.
Following the success of Opera Tales and the enthusiastic reception by a new generation of opera fans, further storytelling sessions are planned to tie-in with performances of Madama Butterfly in the upcoming Winter Season. Keep an eye on the website for further details.
Photo Credit: Amy Charles