Primaries hit the high notes

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Two performances by London primary school children of The Early Earth Operas at the London Coliseum in June mark the culmination of a pioneering project by English National Opera. This new trilogy of 30-minute operas, written by composer John Browne and librettist Jane Buckler, was inspired by children's responses to stories from the Book of Genesis. The first, Firestone, combines the creation myth with the big-bang theory.

Dogfight, tells the story of Cain and Abel through a pack of wild dogs, and Animalarky is a re-telling of the flood myth without any human or divine intervention.

Simplified versions, with teachers either singing or speaking the adult roles, will eventually be published as a resource for schools. Spectacular animated projections, based on original children's paintings, will be used to narrate key moments in the stories. Each opera has two adult soloists, but their roles do not overshadow the childrens'.

Commissioned in 2000, The Early Earth Operas are thought to be the first written especially for young people to sing. One purpose of the initiative was to demonstrate that opera is not inaccessible, but simply a way of telling a story with music.

Before writing, the composer and librettist had worked with children in primary schools in London. The operas have already been performed individually for local audiences by the children who inspired them, but the Coliseum performances in June are the first time they have all been staged together.

The premiere will feature pupils Westminster, Hackney and Southwark, with choirs supplied by Hillingdon Music Service and St Marylebone girls C of E school, Westminster.

June 28 is mainly for family, friends and classmates of the performers, but the Schools Performance at 10.30 am on Tuesday, June 29 is open to everyone. Tickets cost pound;2 and the booking office opens on April 5.

Tel: 020 7632 8300.

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