Ten mini-operas for young people
In 2016, Mahogany Opera launched the pilot for an ambitious programme to demystify opera and engage with children aged 7-11 in the development and performance of new ten-minute operatic pieces. Over two years, ten Snappy Operas were created by groups of children across England, with some of the nation’s most exciting creative voices from both within and outside the opera world.
A Snappy Opera is a ten-minute opera for children which introduces all the essential elements of opera – singing, acting and making – in a fun, colourful and bite-size chunk. Each piece is designed to be performed by around 30 children, divided up into two or three sub-groups. Every character in a Snappy Opera is represented by a sub-group; there are no main parts and no chorus which makes for a wonderfully non-hierarchical rehearsal atmosphere where everyone is fully involved the whole time. Each piece is orchestrated with its own small band of up to three instruments but there’s also a piano only version. A Snappy Opera can be produced very simply with minimal props or with a full set of elaborate set and costumes, inspired by design packs created for each opera. They can be performed in any kind of space - classroom, hall or theatre – and either on their own or as part of a set.
Through partnerships with Music Education Hubs, Multi-Academy Trusts and venues, Mahogany Opera have so far engaged 1770 primary school children from across the UK who have given 177 performances of the ten new operas to their peers, teachers, families and the general public. Creative teams of leading practitioners have guided the children through rehearsal and performance to understand the different crafts involved in making an opera. Learning resources, including music learning tracks, design packs and making kits are available for each opera to support the project and professional development activities for teachers provide a lasting legacy that reaches even more children.
‘A key element in our music strategy is for students to work with professional artists, to perform in inspiring venues and to experience a professional rehearsal process – this project delivered that in spades!'
Leicester-Shire Music Education Hub
In 2019 Mahogany Opera aims to expand its Snappy Opera programme by creating the inaugural annual Snappy Opera Festival. Mahogany Opera will continue to work with existing partners, as well as develop new relationships, to bring young performers and new audiences together across England in a range of professional venues through a week-long celebration of opera making each year. The aim is for the Snappy Opera Festival to be a sector leader in the provision of participatory opera and arts projects for children.
If you would like to get your school, music hub or venue involved in Snappy Operas, or simply want to know more, please contact our Children & Young People Producer on firstname.lastname@example.org
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The ten Snappy Operas:
The Itch Witch by Emily Hall & Toby Litt with Jubilee Opera, Aldeburgh
The Magical Music Tree by Luke Carver Goss & Ian McMillan with Place Farm Primary Academy, Haverhill
Counting Sheep by Jamie Man & Stephen Plaice with Freethorpe Community Primary School, Norwich
The Lighthouse Wave by Errollyn Wallen with Jericho Primary School, Whitehaven
The Feast That Went Off With A Bang by Ed Hughes & Peter Cant
The World's Beating Heart by Gwyneth Herbert with Seven Mills Primary School, Tower Ham lets
Fox-Pop by Kerry Andrew with Alderton Junior School, Loughton
The Machine Dream by Nathan Williamson & Zanib Mian with Bringhusrt Primary School, Market Harborough
The Big History of Little England by Philip Venables & Ted Huffman with Surrey Square School, Southwark
PECK! by Stephen Deazley & Matthew Harvey with St Anthony's Catholic Primary School, Slough
Previous Partner Organisations:
2016/17: The Apex, Cornwall Music Education Hub, Jubilee Opera, Norfolk Music Service, North Tyneside Music Education Hub, Suffolk County Music Service, Rosehill Theatre, Durham Music Service.
2017/18: Essex Music Services, David Ross Education Trust, Leicester-shire Music Hub, Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Service (THAMES), Slough Music Service, Rosehill Theatre.
Michael Tippett Musical Foundation, PRS for Music Foundation, Arts Council England's Catalyst: Evolve, The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust, Lucille Graham Trust