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 (2019: Offenbach's Fantasio) and offers opportunities to attend performances or dress rehearsals at Wormsley. All OperaFirst participants are invited to watch a specially-staged schools' performance of Fantasio, on the main stage at Wormsley, 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 continued to focus on facilitating the youngest generations to discover the world of opera. We were 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 devised and created a mini-opera piece based on The Magic Flute, which led to a sharing performance 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 opera's themes from the focus opera, learn 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 2018 we collaborated with Cressex Community School for the sixth consecutive year, in July 2018 we worked with singers and instrumentalists at The Misbourne Shcool and we are developing new links with secondary schools through Buckinghamshire Music Trust.
"Thank you for giving our children such a wonderful, life-changing experience. The Garsington Factor emanates from your incredible team."
Primary Teacher, Ibstone CE School
"I loved that we were able to go and see the opera after making it our own."
Secondary pupil, Cressex School
"What is going on at Garsington is the absolute ideal of how an opera company should be working with its local community. The highest musical standards couple with fun, joy and real long-term commitment."
John Barber, Composer