Jump to past projects:
A World that Shines like the Sun: songwriting project with ESOL learners (English as a Secondary Language)
Towards Another World: an inter-generational performance and design project culminating at the V&A museum
Siren Song: an all-female project inspired by Handel’s Partenope and exploring powerful womanhood
Being a Don: an all-male project looking at Don Giovanni and representations of masculinity
Millions of Years: a large-scale community project bringing participants together to create a site-specific new piece performed at the British Museum
Other Voices: a six-month programme of work with the local community in Brixton in response to Peter Sellars’ ENO residency
A World that Shines like the Sun was an ENO Baylis community project involving adult ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) learners from across London. The project took inspiration from ENO’s production of Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha, about Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi’s work in South Africa and his belief in non-violent protest as a force for social change. Three separate groups of ESOL learners – Bromley by Bow Centre, New City College and Westminster Kingsway College – worked with composer Jessie Maryon Davies and writer Anthony Cartwright over the course of four singing and songwriting workshops to create their own original songs on the themes of equality and social change. During the process, they were joined by soprano Charlotte Beament who performed the role of Gandhi’s secretary in ENO’s production of Satyagraha and performed alongside the groups for their final sharing of songs on the London Coliseum stage.
Towards Another World was commissioned by ENO Baylis as a new work involving a large community chorus. Created in response to Verdi’s opera Aida, composer Hannah Conway and writer Peter Cant interwove extracts from the opera with new text and songs written in collaboration with 100 individuals from across London – members of the ENO youth programme, ESOL adult English language learners from Tower Hamlets College and Bromley by Bow Community Centre, individuals from Streetwise Opera and the ENO community choir.
Participants explored the opera and the dilemma of the central character – a woman exiled from her homeland, who hides her true identity and is torn between her sense of loyalty to her family and country, and her feelings for a man she is not supposed to love. They reflected on individual stories of home and where the heart belongs, and considered the external pressures that affect our choices and behaviour.
This project culminated in a site specific public performance in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Grand Entrance and Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, celebrating the V&A exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics.
80 young people from National Art & Design Saturday Clubs at University of the Arts, London created costume elements for the performance inspired by Kevin Pollard’s costume designs for the ENO production.
Handel’s opera Partenope presents two strong female characters: an all powerful Queen who is the object of everyone’s desire, and a jilted lover who disguises herself to get what she wants.
In the world of the opera, gender roles are not what they seem: women play men, men play women, and women play women pretending to be men.
This project explored female power, using the central characters in the opera as a springboard to consider femininity in the modern world and the obstacles that women overcome to succeed. It brought together women from across London, including members of the ENO Community Choir and Streetwise Opera; performers from Mirth Control at the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World (WOW) Festival; English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners from Tower Hamlets College; and parents of pupils from Mulberry School for Girls. The all-female community chorus worked with an all-female professional creative team and professional artists to develop original material and stage extracts from the opera.
The project took place between April and May 2017, and culminated in a public performance on Saturday 20 May at the Mulberry and Bigland Green Centre in Shadwell.
Being a Don
Being A Don project was an exploration of male behaviour and male relationships. The project took the male characters in ENO’s production of Don Giovanni as archetypes around which to explore contemporary perspectives on masculinity.
Over a series of creative workshops and rehearsals, a group of adult men from across London collaborated with a team of professional artists to explore the characters in the opera, their music and their behaviour. They also contributed their own ideas to create original text and songs.
The project ended with a public performance on 26 November 2016 in the Southbank Centre as part of the BAM (Being a Man) festival, with project participants performing their original songs and extracts from the opera alongside professional artists.
An ENO Baylis project in partnership with the Southbank Centre.
Millions of Years
ENO’s production of Akhnaten provided a springboard for a large scale community project involving 120 adults and young people from across London. Participants worked together with professional artists from ENO to create Millions of Years, a site-specific music theatre piece which took place in the Great Court of The British Museum.
Over 8 weeks in Spring 2016, participants created a series of moving tableaux, learning extracts from the opera and generating original material in response to the opera and The British Museum collection.
The group of non-professional performers was made up of a mixed-age adult community chorus, including members of ENO Community Choir and Streetwise Opera’s Explore group, young performers from Brixton Youth Theatre and Raw Material, and a team of non-professional jugglers recruited through our partnership with Gandini Juggling.
A group of young designer/makers from the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art & Design Saturday Club at London Metropolitan University created headdresses for the performance.
Principal countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who sung the title role in ENO’s production of Akhnaten, members of the Gandini skills ensemble and a professional instrumental ensemble joined the performers for the final rehearsal and performance.
In partnership with Improbable, Streetwise Opera, Gandini Juggling, Brixton Youth Theatre, Raw Material, The Sorrell Foundation, London Metropolitan University, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL and The British Museum.
Explore the themes, music and drama of Akhnaten in our Akhnaten learning resource (pdf).
The project was kindly supported by Shaftesbury PLC and Sue Sheridan OBE.
The ENO Other Voices project was a six-month programme of work with the local community in Brixton, developed in response to director Peter Sellars’s residency at ENO and the themes and ideas of the two productions he directed.
The programme kicked off with a large scale singing project, developed in response to Peter Sellars’s new production of the John Adams opera The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
Members of the ENO Community Choir, the B.I.G. Choir, Streetwise Opera London Explore group and Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School Year 5 & 6 Choir worked on repertoire inspired by two productions throughout autumn 2014, and came together to share and exchange their songs.
Joined by young professional singers from Opera Works, the project culminated in a pop-up public performance in Windrush Square, as dusk fell on a late November afternoon.
Here’s what happened when 270 people of all ages from across London, came together in the heart of Brixton in a celebration of the human voice: