RESIDENTS across south west Durham will have the chance to make their own opera thanks to a new project.

That's as the Northern Heartlands, the Durham Great Place Scheme funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, begins a major project with Opera North this month involving communities from across the area.

Residents are being encouraged to attend workshops across Teesdale, Weardale, Bishop Auckland, Shildon, Crook and Willington.

The new opera will tell the story of Durham from the point of view of those who live and work in the county and is due to be performed in May 2020 in the exhibition hall of Locomotion, in Shildon.

Opera North has put together a star-studded creative team, including Durham-born composer Will Todd, the poet Tony Walsh and director Caroline Clegg.

The workshops will take place from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 4.30pm every Saturday and Sunday over the two weekends of January 19 and 20 and February 2 and 3. To book visit or email or visit

Anyone wishing to attend and having difficulty with transport is advised to contact Northern Heartlands directly on 01833-200220 or by email.

Venues and dates are as follows:

Saturday, January 19: 10am TCR Hub, Barnard Castle; 2pm Hamsterley Village Hall; Sunday, January 20: 10am St Catherine’s Community Centre, Crook; 2pm Parkside Academy Willington; Saturday, February 2: 10am Bishop Auckland Town Hall; 2pm Greenfield Community College Shildon; Sunday, February 3: 10am Wolsingham School; 2pm St John’s Chapel Town Hall.