For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
10:34am Friday 22nd February 2013 in Theatre
A GROUP of musicians are preparing for the performance of an opera written for young people in the centenary year of composer Benjamin Britten.
The Durham Singers are leading a project with local children to perform Noye’s Fludde in Durham Cathedral at 7pm on Saturday, March 2.
The short opera is based on a 15th Century mystery play and tells the familiar Bible story of Noah’s Ark.
Britten wrote the opera with the idea that people of all ages and musical abilities should be involved, from young children, who sing the parts of the animals, to the audience, who can join in with three wellknown hymns.
The animal parts will be played by Durham Cathedral’s outreach choir – the Durham Cathedral Young Singers – and by younger pupils from Durham Johnston School.
Edwin Holmes, Durham Johnston’s head of music, said: “Pupils are very excited about the Noye’s Fludde project.
“It is a tremendous privilege for them to participate in a performance of Britten’s oneact opera. They are keen to see how all the various parts fit together and are looking forward to putting everything together at the first massed rehearsal in February.
“The older students are signing up for instrumental parts, and as Mrs Noye’s group of gossips, and the handbells have arrived in school.
“The junior choir have just started rehearsing their animal parts. All seems to be progressing well and they are very keen to see which animal mask they will be wearing as there are 49 animal species mentioned in the libretto.”
The opera is accompanied by an orchestra that includes parts written for young, inexperienced players. Those parts will be taken by musicians from Durham Johnston, giving them an opportunity to play alongside professionals.
They will also be playing some other rather unusual instruments, including a set of mugs hung on a string used to create the effect of the first raindrops.
A group of young singers drawn from the Samling Academy will take the major solo roles, with 20-year-old mezzo-soprano Charlotte Heslop, from Spennymoor, singing the part of Mrs Noye.
They will be joined by professional bass-baritone Richard Strivens as Mr Noye.
Durham Singers musical director Dr Julian Wright said: “Britten wrote this piece specifically to engage young people – both players and singers – with music and drama.
“Like Britten himself, the groups involved are dedicated to spreading the message of great music and drama to communities and age groups that have not benefited from this.
“But one of the most important messages will be that of musical humility.
“Noye’s sons and daughters are up-and-coming singers in their early 20s. They will learn, from Britten’s musical generosity, about how music can be shared with amateurs and children – and that is the message for the Durham Singers as well, as we support this huge collaboration between different musicians of different levels of experience.”
The opera will be preceded with two shorter works by Britten, Rejoice in the Lamb and Fanfare for St Edmundsbury.
The concert has been supported by a grant from the Britten Pears Foundation.
Tickets are £18 for adults and £12 for students, on 0191- 332-4041 and at galadurham.co.uk.