London-based English Touring Opera (ETO) has announced details of two new digital film releases, as well as revealing that rehearsals for its two new children’s operas are now underway.
First is a film by Sasha Balmazi-Owen documenting the making of Aidan, a new multimedia opera for 8-12 year olds by conductor, composer and music director Noah Mosley, based on Handel’s Amadigi (1715). The new libretto and story are by soprano Paula Sides, who also sings the role of Melissa.
The Making of Aidan is a short documentary that provides an insight into the creative process leading up to the release of the opera. It looks at the different stages of production, including writing the libretto, composition, rehearsals via Zoom, audio recording, green screen recording, animation and editing.
Viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to create a new opera film during a pandemic, while meeting key figures in the process along the way. The Making of Aidan is available to watch for free now on ETO’s YouTube channel.
Aidan is a colourful, fast-paced musical adventure which explores Amadigi’s themes of quest, play and adventure. It is available to watch for free on ETO’s digital platform, ETO at Home.
Set to be released at the end of this month is a new film by designer Rebecca van Beeck which juxtaposes a performance of Giovanni Battista Ferrandini’s cantata Il pianto di Maria (The Virgin’s Lament, 1739) with archive footage of mothers and sons. The performance was filmed at London’s Stone Nest in 2021; it features mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby, accompanied by the Old Street Band and conducted by Jonathan Peter Kenny.
Ferrandini’s cantata is a highlight of baroque music, long misattributed to Handel as HWV 234: Il pianto di Maria or Giunta l’ora fatal. It explores the Passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of the Virgin Mary.
ETO Artistic Director James Conway commented: “Il pianto di Maria is unlike anything ETO has made before, and a culmination of the work ETO has been doing throughout the pandemic to bring a different approach to digital output. It is certainly ‘opera that moves’ and will speak to anyone who has known mothers or sons, to lovers of this impassioned baroque music (long attributed to Handel) and anyone interested in the possibilities of presenting music in film.”
It will be available to watch for free on ETO at Home.
Finally, rehearsals are now underway for two new children’s operas from English Touring Opera. Part of the company’s spring 2022 season, the operas will tour to schools across England.
Paper and Tin is a new production for 7 to 11 year olds. This reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson’s 1838 fairytale The Steadfast Tin Soldier features a libretto by theatre-maker Laura Attridge, who also directs, and music from composer Lewis Murphy, with designs by Anna Orton.
Written in consultation with teachers, it explores the National Curriculum topics of English and Personal, Social Health and Economic education (PSHE), with a particular focus on grammar, storytelling, gender stereotypes and LGBTQ+ relationships. The tin soldier and paper ballerina adventure around the toy box and playroom, meeting all sorts of toys who offer insights into different kinds of love, relationships and self-identity.
How to Find Your Name is English Touring Opera’s new opera for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) audiences. Composed by Joanna Marie Skillett with a libretto by ETO Associate Artist Bradley Travis, it has been created in collaboration with sixth form students at Greenvale School in Lewisham, London.
The piece is a highly interactive and sensory adventure through land, sea, rainforest and space that addresses the question: what does it mean to have a name? And what happens when we lose it?
You can find out more about ETO’s productions for children here.
Rehearsals have begun on English Touring Opera’s two new productions for children, Paper and Tin and How to Find Your Name.