English Touring Opera (ETO) has announced the forthcoming release of Under the Little Red Moon, a new digital opera written especially for babies and children aged up to 4 years old. It will be available to watch for free on the company’s ETO at Home platform from 2 March.
Under the Little Red Moon is an online film that combines animation and live action. Created in collaboration with specialist paediatricians, the opera explores the development of language with the help of music, movement and creativity.
It tells the story of the moon as it changes colour from red to blue, before changing back to white, creating different light for the living creatures below. Young friends Lulu, Monty and Tom have to try to work out what has caused the rising moon to change colour in this way, and why it is crying blue dots. It turns out that the rabbits have stolen all the shiny things that make the moon white and the three friends have to give them all back to return the moon to its original colour.
The opera features British soprano Abigail Kelly as Lulu, British bass-baritone Bradley Travis as Monty and percussionist Tom Highnam as Tom. The film is animated is by illustrator and media artist Babis Alexiadis. Under the Little Red Moon is composed by Russell Hepplewhite and written and directed by Tim Yealland MBE. It is produced by Bradley Travis, with sound production by Jan Capinski.
ETO has also worked with the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life project, which provides parents, children and young people with activities and support to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home. Together the two organisations have created resources to accompany the opera to help children interact with and understand the story.
A free PDF can be downloaded from ETO’s website. The worksheet contains exercises that complement the film. The activities have been designed for adult viewers to do with children while watching the opera and are aimed at babies and children who are 4 years old and under.
The tasks require the use of some suggested items – a soft ball, an empty bottle with a lid, rice, a wooden spoon, a pot, paper and colours, some towels, a bowl of water, a mirror and shiny objects such as a spoon and tin foil. As such a little preparation is required prior to watching the opera.
The opera is sung in English and the film has a running time of just 25 minutes, making it an ideal introduction to opera and classical music for young children. Viewers need to create a free account with ETO at Home in order to access this and other digital works from English Touring Opera.
ETO at Home is the company’s free streaming service, launched in response to Covid-19 lockdowns which forced theatres to go dark. It features archive video of dress rehearsals of past ETO productions, online singing lessons, film of a selection of arias from Handel’s opera Amadigi (1715), a film of Noah Mosley’s Aidan, a brand new multimedia children’s opera based on Amadigi in three instalments, and ETO’s staging of Ariadne, a short opera by Elena Langer that premiered in 2002, among other recordings.
Combining live action and animation, English Touring Opera’s new opera for children, Under the Little Red Moon, stars soprano Abigail Kelly as Lulu. It will be free to view via ETO at Home from 2 March.