Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose provide a free, public performance of some of opera’s best loved tunes, performed outdoors on the Henry Prince Estate.
Three opera singers accompanied by a small band of top-quality musicians will perform well-known pieces from La Traviata, Carmen, La Bohème & Marriage of Figaro, in witty English translations; ensuring that the audience can hear every word and follow every twist in the story.
This project is part of the company’s ongoing mission to make opera less intimidating and build more diverse audiences. It's important that we don't just turn up on the estate in May, perform for an hour and leave; the success of this project relies on building a relationship with the community. On 16 March we held the preliminary 'Taster Event' in the community clubroom on the estate, where we met with a dozen residents, young and old, and introduced them to OperaUpClose through conversation and a performance from Mezzo-Soprano Christina Gill (www.christina-gill.com). The attendees ranged from giggling teenage girls, experiencing opera for the first time, sung just a metre away from them, to an older woman who has loved and appreciated opera for a long time. Responses ranged from shock at the volume of Christina’s unamplified singing, shyness about the level of emotion she communicated, and delight in the beauty of her voice, but everyone was gripped by Christina's performance, as the attentive silence in the clip shows.
For our next pre-performance event (funding dependent), we'll be running a free music and drama workshop in April, which will also take place at the Henry Prince Community Clubroom.
Despite years of work by excellent organisations, opera is still seen as elitist, expensive and exclusive. DCMS figures from 2013/14 show only 3.9% of adults in England attended an opera. Meanwhile national music education funding in 2014-15 has fallen to 70% of its 2010-11 level, from £82.5m to £58m, and local government cuts are further squeezing the extent of free and subsidised music education which schools and local authorities are able to provide. This is already having a profound impact: participation in music activities fell from 55% in 2009 to 37% in 2013/14. The Warwick Commission’s report on cultural value concluded that, “There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent [equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life] from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.”
By addressing factors which can prevent people from lower socio-economic backgrounds from engaging with the performing arts, OperaUpClose hope to provide the residents of the Henry Prince Estate with an entertaining and exciting opera experience that will inspire next generation musicians, writers, directors and producers.
This project has already received partial funding from Wandsworth Council, but we need to raise another £1200 to cover the costs of this project. Check out the pledges for more information about what we need funding for and how your donation can help put this all in action.