Downend composer's opera for the family

Published on: 28 May 2016

DOWNEND composer Richard Barnard is looking forward to seeing his family opera The Hidden Valley performed in Bristol this month.
The Hidden Valley tells the story of Dewi, who stumbles into a hidden valley and falls in love with Ariene, a river princess. The opera is a magical world of talking beetles, scheming crows and a search for love against the odds.
It was commissioned and developed by Welsh National Opera and first staged in London in 2013 to five-star reviews. Now it is to be performed at St George’s Bristol by OperaSonic.
The show features a cast of nine singers including the acclaimed Juice Vocal Ensemble.
Richard has been working with Operasonic and Bristol Plays Music to introduce the opera to school children in Bristol with live excerpts from the show. Children have been encouraged to compose and perform their own opera scenes.
Working with the show’s designer,  Rebecca Wood, pupils have also had the chance to create large scale art works of landscapes, which will be displayed at St George’s as part of the production.
Richard, who lives in Downend, said the schools workshops over recent weeks had been a great success and he hoped many of the children would come to see the opera.
“Children have really enjoyed hearing the story,  writing ther own scenes and  singing with us. They have been very attentive and have asked lots of questions.” Operasonic ran a successful crowdfunding campaign that received over £3000 in pledges.
Operasonic director, Rhian Hutchings said:“It’s a fantastic new show for those who have never experienced opera before, both young and old.”
Richard, who trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, has worked extensively with WNO and other leading companies and orchestras and has been involved with many community music projects.
He added: “I can’t wait to put the show on here in my home town. We want to give children and families across the city the chance to engage with an opera by a living composer.”
The Hidden Valley project is also being supported by Arts Council England (Grants for the Arts), Paragon Music Trust, Bristol Plays Music, St George’s Bristol and Cass Art.
Performances are on June 29 and 30 at 6pm and July 1 at 7.30pm. Tickets £12/£8.

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