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Music Pages

Opera South presents new commission

15 January 2013

Composer William Godfree
Composer William Godfree

For many opera companies in the UK, community opera in 2013 means Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten, as part of the composer’s centenary celebrations.

However, the enterprising Opera South, is bucking this trend by commissioning a brand new work, written expressly with young people in mind and tailored to the resources of its local community as well as involving schools from neighbouring counties, based on an episode from Arthurian legend.

The Surrey-based company has asked William Godfree to write the opera, entitled Child Roland, which will be premiered in Haslemere in May this year. The opera’s forces are designed to harness as much local talent as possible: ten child soloists will join two adult professional singers, and there is a children’s and adults’ chorus, all accompanied by an ensemble of eight instrumentalists.

The music, explains Godfree, will be eclectic and packed with drama: ‘It’s something of a collage, using some traditional melodies blended with orginial material. Although some of the passages are quite challenging, shall we say, to the ear, the children’s lines tend to be very singable.’

The hour-long work unfolds in two acts that concern the exploits of Roland, son of King Arthur, sent on a quest to rescue his sister Ellen who has been snatched away by the evil King of Elfland.

Child Roland will be directed by Nigel Ramage and designed by John Braithwaite. Performances take place at Haslemere Hall, as part of the Haslemere Festival, on 18 and 19 May.


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