OperaFirst gives an exceptional opportunity to a new generation of young people to explore the musical and dramatic themes of an opera through in-school workshops, before attending a full-scale performance at Wormsley. We are passionate about introducing young people to the wonderful and varied genre of opera, and our teams enjoy collaborating and exchanging ideas with pupils. Everyone is treated as professionals in our schools' projects - we create extraordinary work whilst having lots of fun. Our creative teams comprise professional directors, singers and composers who specialise in opera outreach work. Our OperaFirst programme always complements a focus opera from the forthcoming season (2018: Mozart's Die Zauberflöte) and offers opportunities to attend performances or dress rehearsals at Wormsley. All OperaFirst participants are invited to watch a specially-staged schools' performance of Die Zauberflöte, on the main stage at Wormsley on 18 July, featuring our Alvarez Young Artists in the principal roles. They are introduced to the backstage departments of Garsington Opera, giving them an insight into the technical aspects behind each production, including stage management, costumes and makeup. Many participants have now joined our Youth Company.
Our work with primary schools in 2018 continues to focus on facilitating the youngest generations to discover the world of opera. We are delighted to continue our longstanding partnerships with several local schools: Millbrook Combined School, Lane End Primary, Chalgrove Community Primary, Stokenchurch Primary, Frieth CE Combined School, Ibstone CE Infant School and Holy Trinity CE(A) School Marlow. Led by director Karen Gillingham and composer John Barber, the schools will devise and create a piece based on The Magic Flute, leading to a sharing performance on 6 July featuring 180 children and three professional singers on the main stage at Wormsley.
Our work with secondary schools involves intensive residencies over 2-3 days. Pupils study the musical and dramatic themes from the focus opera, are taught some of the repertoire, devise their own material and hear a professional singer perform. We work with groups of up to 50 students of mixed ages, who form a company to create their own mini-opera.
In March we collaborated with Cressex Community School for the sixth consecutive year, in July we will be working with singers and instrumentalists at The Misbourne Shcool and during the spring and summer we will be developing new links with four secondary schools through Buckinghamshire Music Trust.
"Despite their young age, the children loved the experience; they sat quite mesmerised during the performance - their little faces postively lit up! The project has been a fantastic experience, affording them a unique opportunity to work with professional singers and enter the wonderful world of opera."
Helen Burns, Stokenchurch Primary School