Young Norwich singers join professional performers in Italian opera

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norw

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norwich Theatre Royal. Pictured with staff director Dafydd Hall Williams in rehearsal.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Twelve young voices are sharing the stage with a professional opera company as they star in a production of Puccini's La bohème this week.

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norw

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norwich Theatre Royal. Pictured with staff director Dafydd Hall Williams in rehearsal. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School pupils are playing a chorus of urchins in the English Touring Opera show at Norwich Theatre Royal.

La bohème – an Italian opera about love and loss – opened at the city theatre yesterday and is also being performed today.

All Arden Grove pupils were given the opportunity to audition for the opera, and the 12 young singers that were selected have been working hard ahead of their big moment on the stage.

Norwich-based drama and music practitioner Xenia Horne taught the children the song that they sing in Italian during a street scene in the show.

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norw

Arden Infants School pupils taking part in the English Touring Opera production of La Boheme at Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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Daniel Thrower, headteacher of Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School, in Hellesdon, said: 'This is such an amazing experience.

'To be part of a professional opera is a chance very few children will ever have. It will, I am sure, inspire the children and become a lasting memory for many years to come.'

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Chloe Bradshaw and Spencer Myatt, both seven, are both excited to be part of the show.

Chloe said: 'It's been hard work. I've liked learning the song and the chorus is my favourite part. I think I'd quite like to be a singer and an actor when I grow up.'

Spencer added: 'I have enjoyed learning how to say words in Italian – it's been really fun.'

Emma Watkinson, one of the professional English Touring Opera singers, said: 'With the children in La bohème on tour, it's a wonderful collaborative project and it gives the children the chance to be part of something quite special.

'Opera is an expensive art form and it has so many different elements to it, but the children in La bohème are so important.

'We couldn't do it without them. It's more organic when it is done with children who aren't from a stage school. They are very well-rehearsed and give more of a natural performance.

'The response from the children is always that they have really enjoyed it.'

As well as giving some Arden Grove pupils the chance to perform on the Theatre Royal stage, English Touring Opera is also holding a day-long workshop at Arden Grove today and performing its new children's opera Waxwings.

'Tomorrow the company is taking Waxwings to Hall School, in Old Catton. English Touring Opera is also taking the production Shackleton's Cat to All Saints CEVA Primary School, in Stibbard, near Fakenham, today and Martham Primary and Nursery School, near Great Yarmouth, tomorrow.

English Touring Opera is performing Puccini's La bohème at Norwich Theatre Royal tonight and Donizetti's The Wild Man of the West Indies on Wednesday.

Tickets are £6.50-£35. For more information and to book tickets call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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