English Touring Opera (ETO) has revealed details of a brand new historical opera for children and families. Tutankhamun’s Shoes will take audiences on an epic adventure to ancient Egypt and the roaring twenties, marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
The new interactive opera has been written by ETO’s new general director Robin Norton-Hale, with music by composer Rosabella Gregory. It is aimed at 7-11 year olds. During the show audiences will explore the ancient world, archaeology, mummification and more.
Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti has been transformed into an ever-living cat. She is the opera’s narrator. She will take audiences on a time-travelling journey as they follow ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun from boy to king, through to the discovery of his famous golden tomb.
The opera tells the story of the boy Tutankhamun’s lonely and gruelling childhood, supported by Meryt, a papyrus maker and unlikely friend and guardian to the youngster. It shows how he would be betrayed by his uncle Ay, successor to the throne of Egypt.
Nefertiti then transports audiences to 1920s England, where the cat has chosen as ‘her human’ Lady Carnarvon, the countess married to 5th Earl of Carnarvon who sponsored the search and excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Here they will also meet Howard Carter, the archeologist and Egyptologist who discovered the tomb.
British soprano Claire Wild plays the part of Nefertiti. She is joined by Hong Kong-born countertenor Keith Pun as Tutankhamum. Scottish mezzo-soprano Judy Louie Brown sings the roles of Meryt and Lady Carnarvon, with British bass-baritone Adam Maxey as Ay and Howard Carter.
The production is directed by Lysanne van Overbeek, with Erika Gundesen as musical director and piano accompanist. Designs are by Bettina John.
Bradley Travis, ETO’s head of learning and participation, described Tutankhamun’s Shoes as: “A super-interactive show that’ll be touring to schools, museums and theatres. It’s a whirlwind adventure where you’ll get to meet Tutankhamun and go back to ancient Egypt.”
Public performances of the opera take place at Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, from 19-23 October and at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 28 October. The latter will also include a variety of pre-show activities in the museum’s Egypt galleries, comprising making activities, object handling and a chance to meet the performers.
The opera is sung in English and lasts around 45 minutes, making it ideal for younger audiences. Tickets for the shows are on sale now. Further performances, including in-school shows, are yet to be announced.
New children’s opera Tutankhamun’s Shoes, by English Touring Opera’s new general director Robin Norton-Hale and composer Rosabella Gregory, will be on tour this autumn.