Opera by the sea
Opera for All has had a busy and exciting summer. Indoor screenings of Eugene Onegin in Yarlington and Buckingham in the late spring were followed by the debut of this year's film, Semele, with two simultaneous open-air screenings on 1 July; one at the SO Festival in Skegness and the second at the Oxford Festival of the Arts.
Workshops and SO Festival: Lincolnshire
19 June to 1 July
Part of the SO Festival, the Skegness screening of Semele took place on the seafront in an area designed by local young people who had created family-friendly games and activities based on themes from the opera.
The screening day came at the end of two weeks of workshops in local schools; the Garsington team worked with over 250 students from 9 local schools to explore the themes and music of the opera. Students learned and staged music from Semele as well as composing their own songs in response to the piece. The workshops culminated in a Schools Showcase event at the Skegness Embassy Theatre, where the students had the opportunity to come together and share their work.
Ramsgate Festival: Kent
Later in July we were at the 2017 Opera Takeover. In the build-up to the day a group of local people had worked with a Director and Music Director to create a short pop-up performance based on the story of Semele. Fully mobile (thanks to a shopping trolley!) with costumes, props, sound effects and trumpet accompaniments, they performed with Garsington singers at five different locations. Many audience members found themselves participating. There were a range of opera-related workshops and activities on Ramsgate beach throughout the day illustrated with short extracts showing highlights from Semele linked by a narrator.
The evening's full screening coincided with a glorious sunset and attracted a large audience who brought deckchairs and picnics to enjoy an evening of opera on the beach.
Bridgwater Quayside Festival: Somerset
We were delighted to be part of this inaugural event taking over King Square in the heart of the town for a free open-air screening. In the morning, 40 local people worked with a team of Garsington artists to learn and stage two choruses from Semele at a workshop in Bridgwater Library, later performing their choruses to the audience in front of the big screen.
Garsington Opera artists gave the large audience an introduction to the screening and took questions during the interval. The weather was kind to us and everyone enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of opera amidst the trees of this beautiful Georgian square.
Still to come...
We've got a busy autumn ahead with schools workshops around the country in Grimsby, Bridgwater and Thanet. There will be a screening of Semele in Grimsby on 15 October and the Opera for All artists will be giving a free concert at Bridgwater Arts Centre on Thursday 19 October.