This English National Opera youth project brought over 60 young people aged 13-18 from across London together with a group of professional artists. They collaborated over 6 intensive days to create a new piece of music theatre in response to the story and themes in Verdi’s opera Aida.
The performance group worked with composer Hannah Conway, director Freya Wynn-Jones and choreographer Derya Donaldson, exploring the central themes of duty and love, reflecting on loyalty to one’s family, responsibility to wider society, and the importance of being true to oneself . They expressed their thoughts around these themes in their own original texts and songs. Two professional opera singers, a professional oud player and trombone player, worked alongside the young people all week, creating new material which was interwoven with fragments from Verdi’s opera.
The design group worked with designer Ruth Paton and explored the staging concepts for the new ENO production as a springboard for developing their own scenic and costume elements, reflecting on how to present public and private space on stage and exploring what it means to be bound. They also experimented with how to bring their designs to life to support the storytelling on stage.
The project culminated in two performances for family and friends in ENO’s rehearsal studios.
Material created during the project was developed and interwoven by composer Hannah Conway into a new piece, Towards Another World. Young people involved in the summer project were invited back to ENO to take part in the new work, performing as part of a large community chorus in a site specific public performance in the Victoria and Albert Museum in November 2017.