Youth Programme past projects

New work created by young people aged 13-18 in response to ENO productions.

Jump to Youth Programme past projects:

What has Society Done to Us:A Youth Project in October 2019 exploring the idea of the power of society on a younger generation.
They whisper “don’t gaze at the stars”: A youth project in February 2019 exploring themes of power and identity in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
London Rise: October Youth Project 2018 exploring the theme of community in The Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess
The Uncensored Me: Summer Youth Project 2018 exploring art and censorship, and the ENO/Gate production of Effigies of Wickedness
Stand as One: February Youth Project 2018 responding to Gandhi’s life and thoughts as depicted in the ENO production of Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha
Threads of the Past: Summer Youth Project 2017 looking and the themes of love and community as in the new ENO production of Verdi’s Aida
The marigold that goes to bed with the sun: February Youth Project 2017 tackling the themes of forgiveness and corruption shown in Ryan Wigglesworth’s new opera premiered at ENO, The Winter’s Tale
Speak Some Truth: Summer Youth Project 2017 exploring ideas of family responsibility that come to the fore in Janacek’s opera Jenufa
Other Voices: February Youth Project 2016 creating a new work inspired by ENO’s production of Purcell’s The Indian Queen

What has Society Done to Us?

In October half term 2019, young people from across London worked with professional director Laura Keefe and composer Jessie Maryon Davies to explore the music of Offenbach, the themes and ideas in the opera Orpheus in the Underworld.

They created their original text, music and staging ideas. Professional baritone singer Njabulo Madlala took part in the project sessions and final performances alongside the young people. The original piece of music theatre was performed to an invited audience of friends, family and ENO guests at Ark Academy (Wembley). The young people then reprised a short extract of their piece, accompanied by the strings of the English National Opera orchestra in front of the full audience attending the matinee performance of Orpheus in the Underworld at the London Coliseum.

Watch the short film about this project and hear the young participants sharing their experience working on this project and performing on the Coliseum stage.

They whisper “don’t gaze at the stars” but they don’t tell us why

Young people across London were challenged to think critically and creatively around themes of power, identity and loyalty taking inspiration from ENO / Complicité’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

The performance group worked with composer Hannah Conway and director Elayce Ismail to devise their own words, music and staging ideas. The design group worked with designer Cécile Trémolières to create scenic design elements using video and Foley.

The original piece of music theatre was performed to an invited audience of friends, family and ENO guests at Mulberry UTC. The young people then reprised a short extract of their piece for the + 2,000 people attending the evening performance of The Magic Flute at the London Coliseum.

London Rise

In October half term 2018, 36 young people aged 13-18 came together from across London to take part in the ENO Engage youth programme. Over four intensive days, the group created their own original piece London Rise inspired by the music and themes of The Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Working with director Caroline Williams, composer Pete Letanka and a team of professional artists, the young people devised their own text, music and staging. ENO chorister Robert Winslade Anderson and singer/cellist Ayanna Witter Johnson joined the project to rehearse and perform alongside them, culminating with a sharing on the set of Porgy and Bess on the London Coliseum stage.

Later that day, the young people reprised a short extract of their piece for the audience attending the sold out evening performance of Porgy and Bess, for which they received a rapturous reception, before taking their seats in the auditorium to enjoy the opera with their families and friends.

For many of these young people, this was the first time they had engaged with opera and worked alongside professional artists.

Watch our short film to find out about their experience of taking part in the project and performing on the London Coliseum stage.

The Uncensored Me

Bringing together young people from across London, our 2018 summer youth project provided an opportunity to collaborate with a team of professional artists over the course of a week to create a new piece of music theatre. Inspired by ENO/Gate Theatre co-production Effigies of Wickedness the piece featured cabaret songs from the 1930s that were banned by the Nazi party and paid tribute to those whose voices have been silenced, exploring where censorship exists today and what it means to have the right to freedom of expression.

Drawing on the cabaret style and working alongside professional opera singers and cabaret artists the performance group wrote lyrics, devised staging ideas and composed music that was interwoven with songs from Effigies of Wickedness, whilst a group of young designers created all the scenic and costume elements for the performance.

Have a watch of these video diaries to find out what the participants thought of their experiences on this project.

Stand as One

The participants of the February 2018 youth project created new scenes inspired by Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha, a meditation on Gandhi’s early life in South Africa and the impact of his belief in non- violent protest as a force for social change.

Stand as One explores themes in the opera that resonate for the young people taking part – what injustices in our modern world do we feel compelled to challenge, aware of the consequences that our actions might have and the sacrifices we might each have to make? how can we work together to effect change without resorting to violence? how can we create a fairer society that works for all?  Working with a team of professional artists, the young people created original text and music that interweaved with Sanskrit words and music from the opera. Design elements created by the group were inspired by the ENO production and Gandhi’s use of newspaper as a vehicle through which to spread ideas.

Threads of the Past

This project brought over 60 young people aged 13-18 from across London together with a group of professional artists over six intensive days to create a new piece of music theatre in response to the story and themes in Verdi’s opera Aida. The young people explored themes in the opera and the new ENO production that resonate for them – what prevents us from being able to love who we want to; duty to oneself, to each other and to wider society; when does personal choice risk betraying others; and what it means to be bound.

Material created during the project was developed and interwoven by composer Hannah Conway into a new piece, Towards Another World. Young people involved in the summer project were invited back to ENO to take part in the new work, performing as part of a large community chorus in a site specific public performance in the Victoria and Albert Museum in November 2017.

The Marigold that Goes to Bed with the Sun

This piece was a response to Ryan Wigglesworth’s new opera The Winter’s Tale and was created by young people working together with professional artists over a series of introductory workshops in schools and youth organisations, and three intensive days in February 2017 half term.

Pivotal moments in Act 1 inspired the group to place Leontes on trial and explore themes in the opera that resonated for them, creating text and songs that considered whether we should always believe the news and how we can make our voices heard when we want to speak out against those who govern us.

The young people taking part had the opportunity to attend a performance of The Winter’s Tale and meet with composer Ryan Wigglesworth following the performance, performing extracts of their new piece on the set of the production for members of the principal cast.

Speak Some Truth

In Summer 2016, a group of young people interested in music, performance and design came together from 23 schools across London and beyond to create a new piece of work inspired by ENO’s production of JenůfaThrough a series of introductory in-school workshops, they explored Janáček’s music, the story and moral dilemmas at the heart of the opera that had resonance for each group.

A special on stage event at the London Coliseum provided the chance to walk on the set, meet conductor Mark Wigglesworth, principal singers and members of the stage crew before watching the performance. The youth peoplethen assembled in ENO’s rehearsal studios for an intensive 5 days in July to work with a team of professional artists to learn extracts from the opera, create their own original lyrics, compose songs, devise staging ideas and create set, props and costume elements.


Young people from Kingsbury High School, one of our Opera Squad partner schools, supported the ENO Engage team as assistant producers/stage managers. Read about their week.

Other Voices

In February 2015 we brought together a group of young people from across Lambeth to create a new piece inspired by the ENO production of Purcell’s The Indian Queen, directed by Peter Sellars. Working with one another for the first time and with a team of professional artists, the young people created their own response to the opera, exploring themes in the piece that resonated with the group.

The resulting piece included staged extracts of music and text from the opera, interwoven with original music, lyrics, spoken word and dance, reflecting the multi disciplinary nature of the main stage production. A group of young artists from 198 Gallery helped to create the set and costumes. The project culminated with the young people and their families and friends attending a performance of The Indian Queen at the London Coliseum and meeting members of the company on stage.

with thanks to everyone involved and to our generous supporters:

Arts Council England, The Alchemy Foundation, Nicholas Addyman, Martyn Brabbins, Dr Harry & Mrs Jacquie Brunjes, Charities Advisory Trust, Sir Vernon & Lady Hazel Ellis, John & Elizabeth Forrest, Susan Gane, Ian Wylie & Sian Griffiths OBE, Harriet & Michael Maunsell, The Nugee Foundation, Anthony & Katherine Pinching, The Perivoli Trust, Jake & Hélène Marie Shafran, Sue Sheridan OBE, Michael Shipley & Philip Rudge, Pamela & Robert Stiles, Ivor Samuels, Gerry Wakelin, the Woodward Charitable Trust, Barnett & Sylvia Shine No.2 Trust & the Night Teams for assisting with the collection of newspapers donated by Edwardian Hotels London