Local school children will play a key role when Opera South East bring Mozart’s The Magic Flute to the White Rock Theatre next month.
And accompanied children aged under 16 will be able to watch the performance for free.
Opera South East was formed in Hastings in 1980 and is a company that brings together enthusiastic amateurs and emerging/established professionals to provide a unique opportunity for singers of all ages and backgrounds to experience the thrill of opera performance with a full orchestra.
They present fully staged operas that are affordable and accessible to everyone, performing high quality productions, in English, to encourage new audiences.
Julia Bovee, from Opera South East, stress the importance of the role local children play in the productions and said: “Members are all shapes and sizes, all ages and from varied backgrounds. The one thing they have in common is their love of opera. Introducing opera to new audiences, especially children is one of their main objectives and this spring the children are getting involved in every aspect of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
“Many young students from Theatre Sense, a Hastings based theatre school, and Claremont Preparatory School are joining the cast for this production. All the magic and wonder of this production has been created by the children, in collaboration with the director and design team.
“The children are at its core, they propel the story forward and introduce us to the magical characters within the opera. They have all worked incredibly hard and seem to be loving the experience.
“There were many dropped jaws at the first rehearsal when they heard the ensemble for the first time. The children had not had exposure to such strong voices at close quarters and it seems to have thoroughly inspired them.
“They all turn up eager and keen to every session. When asked what they thought about the experience the words “fun” and “exciting” were constantly repeated.
“As well as the acting children’s chorus, the super squad, there are three young singers who are performing the roles of the three spirits. They have fully embraced the challenge of getting to grips with some very difficult
music and have commented on how it’s helped them to improve their sight singing skills. Young Alfie said it’s helping him be “the best he can be” and he really wants to give it his all.
“It enables emerging singers to gain valuable performance experience under professional musical and artistic direction. It also gives them the opportunity to learn and develop a role. Singers who have worked with the company in the last few years have gone on to perform at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, ENO, Scottish Opera, Grange Park and the National Theatre.
“Working with professionals always seems to bring out the best in the company members too, rehearsals are dynamic and creative and a great learning experience for all, watching characters gradually come to life both vocally and physically is an exciting time.
“The Magic Flute aims to show us the majestic power of art and music, a force that can change people. It is a wonderful tale of good verses evil, light verses dark. Unusually for opera it contains spoken dialogue and with it’s larger than life characters and humour is the perfect operatic introduction for children.”
This production takes on an international flavour, strongly fortified by a local chorus. Making their Opera South East debut are South African Fae Evelyn (The Queen of the Night) American Mark Bonney (Tamino), James Williams (Papageno) and Marina Ivanova (Papagena).
“Local professionals joining the production include Lucy Ashton (Pamina), Toby Sims (Sarastro) and Jeremy Vinogradov (Monostatos). Also included in the cast are Julia Bovee as First Lady, Philippa Thomas as Second Lady and Karen McInally as Third Lady.
Members of the audience are warmly invited to attend a Pre-performance Talk given by Director, Fraser Grant and various members of the cast, on Saturday April 8, in the auditorium at the White Rock Theatre, at 6pm.
A valid ticket for either night will ensure admission, for which there is no additional charge. This talk takes the form of a short presentation, then a Question and Answer session.
Julia said: “This has proved a popular event in recent years and will give you an insight into how and why this particular production is presented in the way it is.
“Magic Flute is the perfect introduction to opera, especially for children, so do join Opera South East on their wonderful adventure as they explore this timeless masterpiece through the eyes of a child. Don’t miss it.”
Tickets from the White Rock Theatre at £20, £16 and £12 plus a £1.00 per ticket booking fee (unless groups of 8 or more, or WRT Friend). Concessions £2 off. Accompanied children under 16 are free.
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