Jackdaws OperaPLUS brings together a team of opera singers and school children to create performances of classic operas, semi-staged and sung in English. In Spring 2020, OperaPLUS would have been Rossini’s The Stylist of Somerset (aka The Barber of Seville) culminating in tour of performances in locations across Somerset.
The project gave children the opportunity to benefit from the well documented rewards of participation, their comments sum all of this up beautifully-
“Suddenly a rush of excitement exploded inside me and all I could think about was having fun!”
“Thank you for making OperaPLUS a happy highlight of my year.”
“I felt all shy when we stepped onstage but when we started I felt so passionate. At the end the crowd erupted with applause!”
“It was the best opportunity that I ever had.”
“You taught us incredible things like the highest female voice is called soprano and the lower female voice is called mezzo-soprano.”
“Thank you for letting us sing opera for the first time as an ensemble.”
“When I woke up on performance day I tried to save my voice but I couldn’t stop talking about OperaPLUS.”
“The story was amazing and full of surprises, it just proves that no matter how hard it gets you can always succeed.”
“One of things that amazed me the most was the pianist because on one of the pieces she made the piano sound like a cello!”
“The performance was a great hit and my Mum said that she absolutely loved it, she was amazed at how good your opera singing was. it was a great experience and it was a great way to let out all of our emotions and have lots of fun. I loved it so much.”
“Thank you for giving us a great opportunity. I definitely want to watch an opera now!”
We also asked the teachers in some schools some additional questions;
100% answered yes to these questions and 100% also said they would like to do it again.
Do you feel you learnt about a new genre of music? YES
Did you gain some new skills you can take forward in your music making in school? YES
Will you continue to use singing as a means to making music in your class? YES
“I’d like to thank you and the Jackdaws Opera team for providing the children with such a great experience at Monday’s performance. The children really enjoyed it with one of the boys proclaiming that opera is ‘cool’!”
“Being part of this project is one of the best things that I’ve ever been involved in. The administration and set up was easy, the professionalism of the singers throughout the workshops and the resources were excellent. However, the show itself was exceptional. The way that the singers involved and enthused the children was extraordinary and the fact that all the children (and adults) sat through and loved a top-quality opera was wonderful to watch. Thank you so much for involving us – we only hope that we can be involved again next year.
Mrs C Knighton, Headteacher, Baydon St Nicholas Primary School”
“We were amazed and delighted by your production of The Team Mascot yesterday.
It was the most captivating, imaginative and engaging performance in which the school children were so obviously included and valued. Their enjoyment of the performance was obvious by their hearty singing as well as their concentration and pleasure in the operatic ‘telling of the story’.
You produced a very professional opera which was musically impressive and did not patronise your young chorus or your audience!
Fantastic soloists, very funny moments and brilliant organisation made for a moving and thoroughly wonderful hour and a half – thank you all very much.”
Opera – The Singers
A residential course for professional opera singers, who work to develop their workshop leadership skills alongside interpreting and performing a full role with Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg and Audrey Hyland. Saffron has directed for ENO, Garden Opera, Mid Wales Opera and at the Royal College of Music, and Audrey is the Deputy Director of Vocal & Opera at the RCM.
PLUS – The Children
A primary feature of the OperaPLUS project is that singers work with local Somerset schools in workshops and then they all perform together to an audience of family and friends, giving children the chance to be a part of the magical performance. Providing a unique platform for the performers to gain skills and experience and offering children exposure and opportunity to experience opera first-hand.
On 25 February 2016, Jackdaws was presented with the Music Teacher Magazine Award for Excellence for “Best Classical Music Education Initiative” for OperaPLUS. We want to thank everybody who voted and supports our Education work. This is a huge achievement and means a lot to us. Read the full story.
In the past, the project has produced performances of the The Team Mascot (also known as Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment), Handel’s Semele, Cinderella (La Cenerentola – Rossini), Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale, Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Mozart’s Magic Flute and Così fan Tutte.