Austerity Opera made to inspire next generation

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Two enterprising Midlands arts companies are staging a full-scale opera, based on Homer’s epics The Iliad & The Odyssey, on a budget that would barely pay for the wardrobe of most opera houses.

Coventry-based Talking Birds Theatre Company and Stratford-based Orchestra of the Swan are staging Troy Story at Birmingham Town Hall with nearly 200 performers – including 164 young people from primary and Special Educational Needs schools in Birmingham and Stratford, a chamber orchestra and a team of four talented soloists who play 13 parts between them.

“We’ve taken Homer’s great stories and set them in the future – the year 3000 to be precise – and are re-telling them in a dynamic and humorous way,” says Composer Derek Nisbet. “For many of the children involved this is their first experience of opera and they will be performing alongside some of the region’s top musicians. Though we’re working on a comparative shoestring, the production has big set pieces that audiences will love, and what’s more they won’t need surtitles to understand the words.”
The production has been funded from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Stratford Town Trust, Arts Council England and numerous other grants and private donations – including sponsorship earned by Orchestra of the Swan’s visionary Artistic Director, David Curtis who has undergone the gruelling challenges of a Marathon and a Triathalon in aid of the project.
“It’s about empowering kids from our schools to perform new work that they have helped to shape. The opera grew out of work the orchestra has done in Welcombe Hills Special Educational Needs School over a number of years and shows just what these young people are capable of, given the opportunity.” – David Curtis, Conductor/Artistic Director.
“In a climate of cutbacks and austerity, smaller organisations can sometimes out-manoeuvre the larger institutions by virtue of their fleet-footed creativity” says Curtis. Previously the Orchestra appeared on televisions’ How To Look Good Naked to highlight cuts to arts budgets.
“It is also important to us that we make this work accessible and affordable to audiences.”
Troy Story – An Intergalactic Opera – is at Town Hall, Birmingham on Tuesday 9 July 2013 at 4.30pm.
Tickets are on sale for £7 / £3.50 for under 16s from Town Hall Symphony Hall Box Office: 0121 345 0603 or

Orchestra of the Swan
Civic Hall,Rother Street,Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6LU
Tel/Fax: 01789 267567

Source: Orchestra of the Swan

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