CHILDREN from nine primary schools across Cornwall will be taking part in an ambitious new production from Duchy Opera this summer.
Musical director Paul Drayton has composed a new 50-minute opera based on the Cornish legend of the Mermaid of Zennor, with words by director Keith Sparrow.
The Mermaid is aimed at children and adults of all ages, and was inspired by their popular School Run outreach programme, which has been visiting schools the length of Cornwall for the last two years.
"Visiting primary schools with singers from Duchy has been a very inspirational experience," said Keith. "We decided to go one step further and create a production which would not only appeal to all ages, but actually involve large groups of children performing alongside the regular chorus, to give them a real taste of what it's like being involved in this sort of show.
"The story of the Mermaid of Zennor seemed an ideal choice of subject matter, with its themes of love, singing and the ever-present sea. This is Paul Drayton's second new opera in four years, following on from The Hanging Oak in 2009, and he's created some quite breathtaking music which is accessible to children and adults alike."
A team from Duchy Opera will visit each school involved throughout spring to work on the singing and movement required for the performances, followed by three
in June and July, each of which will involve three schools from different parts of Cornwall.
The first performance will be in Bude Parkhouse Centre on June 29, involving children from Tintagel, Pensilva and Bude schools. On July 4 they visit Newlyn, The Centre, with Nancledra, Hayle, Penpol and Newlyn schools, then July 12 they perform in Truro Cathedral with Mevagissey, Trewirgie (Redruth) and Mylor Bridge schools.
Starring as Morveren the Mermaid will be Truro-based soprano Lucy Eaton, with the young fisherman Mathew Trewhella played by tenor Ranald McCusker, a choral scholar at Truro Cathedral. Mathew's mother will be sung by alto Susan Lancaster, and Morveren's father, Llyr, the ruler of the sea, will be played by John Beazely.
Tickets for The Mermaid of Zennor are on sale from Cornish Riviera Box Office at www.crbo.co.uk, or telephone 01726 879500. Adults £6 at Bude and Newlyn, £8 at Truro Cathedral, U16s £1 at all performances. More details at www.duchyopera.co.uk