What do you get when you cross a trip to Candyland with a trip back in time to the Victorian era?
Two world premieres of operas written and performed by Derry primary schools.
Local opera singer Margaret Keys was on hand at the prestigious Belfast opera house yesterday afternoon as boys and girls from Nazareth House P.S. and Holy Family’s P.S. made their opera debuts as part of Opera Quest.
Nazareth House pupils, dressed in costumes from the Victorian era performed Back to the Past where a boy sits on a magical chair that has powers to take him back to the past. But he doesn’t like all he sees in Victorian times.
And Holy Family staged The Not too Sweet adventure to Candyland where children find a magic singing key taking them on an adventure to Candyland. But beware the giant gummy bear!
Derry soprano Margaret Keys explained that the children from Derry put on the show at the Opera House with two schools from Belfast.
“This is all funded by the Princes Foundation for children in the arts which brings children in to look at things they may not necessarily been able to get involved with before like opera and art galleries.”
Margaret is now the Irish ambassador for the charity.
“I’m here today to give some last minute advice on voice projection and stage presence,” said Margaret. “But all credit goes to the teachers and the facilitators.”
And she welcomed such a project which opens up the minds of young people to arts such as opera.
“I think too long opera has been looked on as an elitist art form but it involves drama, singing and storytelling. What you see here today is something that everyone can understand.
“Our aim is to bring opera to the people. It is open to everyone.”
Each school involved is given a theme and was taken to see two operas so they could see the various sides of opera including recitative and arias
“I’ve seen some real stars today,” said Margaret. “I would love to see more people go into opera in the future.
“It’s not too high brow, it’s fun and it’s down to earth.”
The children have worked with opera practitioner, Lucia Vernon-Long, in workshops at the Grand Opera House and in their classrooms, and have taken inspiration to attend opera by writing, composing & performing their own opera productions.