Dorset Opera

Opera given new life by Queen Elizabeth’s Students

Dorset Opera Festival and Queen Elizabeth’s School teamed up to bring opera alive and recreate an ancient tale with 45 students at the school.

Lead by a team of music professionals from the Dorset Opera Festival, the students created lyrics, new compositions, as well as singing in the original French language and performing songs from the Gounod’s grand opera, Faust. The result was a world premiere of a work based on the themes of Faust – disillusionment, desire, temptation, love and the idea of good eventually triumphing over evil. Their work was staged with spellbinding choreography, complete with 8-piece band, and enabled talent to shine from students who might never have had the opportunity to sing, dance and compose songs before.

The young people were put through their paces by pianist, presenter and composer Dominic Harlan, opera singer and producer, Lynsey Docherty and virtuoso cellist and baritone Matthew Sharp – all leaders in their field. Lynsey Docherty, who is also on the Board of Directors at Dorset Opera Festival said of the project ‘Creating opera with young people allows them to develop creative skills they never knew they had. It is abundantly clear from the resulting piece how the arts stimulate and encourage creativity, communication, cooperation, confidence and self-expression that are vital for young people as they develop into adulthood. Creating their own work validates their ideas, and gives them a glimpse into the behind the scenes work of opera singers, how they create sound and the professional and focussed work behind staging such an art form has been revolutionary for the students.’

The project was a result of Dorset Opera Festival and a donation from philanthropists Margrette and John Jones gifted to Queen Elizabeth’s School to provide inspiring musical leader-

ship that reflects

the international work of the Festi- val and its com- mitment to young people. The students in- volved have also been given ex- clusive access to a Faust dress rehearsal at the Festival in July.

Artistic Director of Dorset Opera Festival, Roderick Kennedy, who attended the students’ performance said of the collaboration: “We were stunned with what these young people were able to achieve in just 4.5 days of intensive work. A most exciting and fulfilling project. I look forward to the possibility of taking our opera outreach programme into other schools around the county and to having the QE team with us at the Dorset Opera Festival in July.”

Steve Glover, Director of Music at Queen Elizabeth’s School said, ‘I’m so very proud of our students, their intense creativity and commitment to the project, and I was genuinely gobsmacked by both the amount and quality of the result- ing performance. They’ve all learned so much from Lynsey, Dominic and Matthew, and everyone here is absolutely delighted with the outcome.’

Dorset Opera Festival’s performances of Faust and Le Comte Ory run from 25-29th July with international casts.