English Touring Opera (ETO) has announced that Aidan, a new multimedia opera aimed at younger audiences, is available now to watch in three episodes for free on the touring company’s ETO at Home platform.
Providing a fresh, modern take on Handel’s Amadigi (1715), the new production is described as a “colourful, fast-paced musical adventure mixing live-action performance and hand-crafted animation”. ETO is currently touring Amadigi to venues around England.
Handel’s ‘magic opera’ tells the story of the eponymous hero, a prince of Gaul, who is in love with Oriana, an English princess. However, the sorceress Melissa is infatuated with him. She has imprisoned Oriana in a tower and chains up the hapless Amadigi. After various deceptions, visions and trials, the two lovers, Amadigi and Oriana, are finally reunited when Orgando, Oriana’s uncle and a sorcerer, descends from the sky in a chariot and blesses their union.
The new piece is composed by conductor, composer and music director Noah Mosley and features arias from Amadigi alongside original music from Mosley. The story and English-language libretto have been provided by soprano Paula Sides, who also sings the role of the sorceress Melissa. It is directed by ETO associate artist Bradley Travis.
Mosley previously worked with ETO on the company’s adaptation of Shh! We Have a Plan, based on illustrator Chris Haughton’s much-loved picture book of the same name. Telling the story of four friends who fail in their hare-brained schemes to catch a beautiful birdy, the youngest of them knows that a bit of kindness can go a long way. Will his friends follow his gentle lead or will they get themselves into even more trouble? This 15-minute opera is also free to view on ETO’s Vimeo channel.
Aidan is aimed at 8-12-year-olds. It explores Amadigi’s themes of quest, play and adventure. The three instalments last just 11 minutes, 13 minutes and 16 minutes respectively. According to ETO, it is the “perfect way to introduce children to the joys of opera and Handel’s music”.
In addition to Sides, the cast includes baritone Jerome Knox as Aidan, countertenor James Hall as Dorian and soprano Alison Rose as Olivia. The work has been designed by Harry Pizzey, with animation and editing by Gemma Green-Hope and sound production by Jan Capinski.
As well as being available on ETO at Home, Aidan will be shared with secondary schools around the country, alongside a specially written teachers’ pack dedicated to using the opera as a tool in English Literature and Language teaching, particularly in preparation for GCSE English. The pack is available to download for free from ETO’s website. Schools interested in showing the film should email ETO Associate Artist Bradley Travis on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
ETO at Home is the touring company’s free streaming service, launched in response to the Covid-19 lockdowns, which forced the cancellation of ETO’s 2020 spring tour. Several other recordings are available, along with singing lessons, panel discussions and education projects. Users are required to set up a free account to use the platform.
Based on Handel’s Amadigi and featuring original compositions by Noah Mosley, children’s opera Aidan is available to watch for free on English Touring Opera’s ETO at Home digital platform.