Shattering opera’s fuddy-duddy image at primary school

Opera can be engaging, uplifting ... and fun
Opera can be engaging, uplifting ... and fun

The image of opera – that’s it’s deadly serious and strictly for grown-ups – was shattered recently for a group of Year 6 pupils at South Malling Primary School in Lewes.

New Sussex Opera staged a workshop, based on its triumphant and hilarious production of Donizetti’s masterpiece The Elixir of Love, that proved to children, teachers and parents that opera can be engaging, uplifting – and fun.

Featuring director David Foster and professional soloists from the original production, the NSO team took the children through the opera’s story line and then got them directly involved in acting and singing selected scenes as if they themselves were members of the cast.

And in an opera in which the characters include a super-cool surfing dude and a dodgy doctor, the laughs were never far away.

But there was a serious purpose underlying the whole event. New Sussex Opera Chair Ruth Loughton said: “At a time when music in schools is under increasing pressure, we felt it was important to prove to young people in our community that opera isn’t remote or elitist, but an art form they can relate to and that could become a real part in their lives.”

Judging by the response from the children themselves - “I enjoyed acting the story out because it made me happy” was a typical comment from the 9-10 year-olds.

NSO is clearly nurturing the next generation of opera lovers – and maybe even performers.