Mahogany Opera Group announces new focus from 2018 plus extension of Snappy Operas programme

Mahogany Opera Group has announced that it will refocus its activity on two areas from January 2018: MY Opera and Various Stages.

  • MY Opera (Mahogany Youth Opera) aims to give young people ownership of opera and encompasses all Mahogany Opera Group’s work for and with children. Characterised by the way in which young people work alongside professionals, it builds on recent successes, Brundibár and Snappy Operas. Mahogany plans to establish a MY Opera network of music education hubs, arts venues, charities and schools both in the UK and internationally to create youth opera projects.
  • Various Stages is Mahagony Opera Group’s Research & Development Festival, opening a dialogue between writers, performers, promoters and audiences during the creative process. This year’s festival expanded its scope and diversity by inviting international artists and holding an open call out.

As a consequence of this new focus, Mahogany Opera Group has decided not to reapply to remain an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation as it will no longer be presenting three new touring operas each season. Instead, the group has announced the extension of Snappy Operas which will now be expanded to more schools across the UK and internationally as well as being part of the New Music Biennial 2017 in Hull and London.

Last season, Snappy Operas brought opera to 700 children aged 7-11 in 24 schools across the UK while, under the musical and artistic direction of Stephen Deazley and Frederic Wake-Walker, composers and writers such as Emily Hall, Errollyn Wallen, Luke Carver Goss, Ian McMillan and Toby Litt worked with teachers to provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Composers and librettists for the next phase are:

  • Philip Venables and Ted Huffman
  • Stephen Deazley and Matt Harvey
  • Nathan Williamson and Zanib Mian
  • Gwyneth Herbert and Kerry Andrew

Frederic Wake-Walker, Artistic Director of Mahogany Opera Group, said:

‘Mahogany Opera Group has always been dedicated to the development of new works, artists and the audiences of the future. But now focussing exclusively on these two core areas of working with and for young people and the process of developing new work and talent, we are able to address the most vital needs of the industry.

‘With Snappy Operas, we will create an enduring theatrical and musical resource for Primary schoolchildren, who may otherwise not have a chance to experience the dramatic possibilities of opera. We hope that the Snappy Operas themselves – which will emerge out of some hugely rich collaborations – come to occupy a significant place in the repertoire of entertaining and engaging theatre for children.’

One pupil said:

‘My singing has got better. Many levels better. I had never sung before. Now I am told I have one of the best voices in the school. And I didn’t know that before.’

Header photo: Snappy Operas 2017 in North Tyneside © Sophie Teasdale

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