English Touring Opera (ETO) has announced a new commission for young audiences that will play in London theatres before touring to schools across England. Back Into the World is an opera suitable for children aged 4-8; it has been created to explore many of the challenges that youngsters have faced during the past year due to the Covid-19 health crisis and the legally mandated safety measures that have variously been in place.
It addresses issues brought on by such restrictions as lockdowns, school closures and social distancing, including missing friends, increased anxiety, disruptions to learning, dealing with difficult emotions and isolation and loneliness. It will look at the fears that children might experience as they go back into the world.
The opera aims to be an interactive, participatory adventure, with the young audience making music with the performers. Together, they will explore themes of friendship, sharing, teamwork and diversity, as well as discovering the natural world.
The story follows Lexi who lives in the town of Exie. Life in Exie is by all accounts perfect – just look at the happy-o-meter – but Lexi yearns for excitement. But when a horrible noise troubles the town, the happy-o-meter plummets, and Lexi realises she has to do something about it.
Lexi sets off on an expedition to save the town and learn more about herself and others along the way. As she continues further on her journey, she meets the nonsense-talking Wee-Whys, the wise and wonderful Everywhere, and learns how working together through music can save the day and turn that nasty noise into something beautiful.
The opera is another collaboration between creative partnership Hanbury and Groves, who have worked together on a number of new commissions, including several for ETO. The music is by London-based composer and curator Alex Groves, with a libretto from stage director and writer Rebecca Hanbury, who also directs. It has been designed by Rebecca Wood. The role of Lexi is sung by soprano Nia Coleman.
There are four London-based performances. One each at 11am and 2pm at Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre on 30 October and at the same times at North Finchley’s artsdepot on 7 November. Tickets cost from £9 and are available now from ETO’s website.
In addition to the public theatre performances, Back Into the World will tour to primary schools around the country. The opera is accompanied by a variety of free teaching resources which can be found on ETO’s website. These cover such subjects as drama, art and spoken English, literacy and music. You can also head over to ETO’s YouTube page for a free singing lesson from Nia Coleman as she teaches viewers to sing the song ‘Let’s Go’.
English Touring Opera will perform Hanbury and Groves’s new children’s opera Back Into the World at London theatres and in primary schools across the country.