A new opera comes to Gateshead Old Town Hall this month as part of a unique double bill.
The River Keeper, by Bridie Jackson and Nell Leyshon, is the first of three 30-minute operas in the Streetwise Opera’s Little Opera 2014-15 season.
Folk quartet Bridie Jackson and The Arbour have teamed up with UK charity Streetwise Opera to compose and perform the brand new opera. The award-winning charity, which has seen its performers sing at the Royal Opera House, works to see homeless people become more socially included and uses music as a tool to help 500 homeless people a year.
Bridie Jackson is delighted to be working with the charity after being commissioned to compose the music for The River Keeper. However, the creative process has been challenging and a huge learning curve for the talented composer and musician.
She says: “I have admired the work Streetwise Opera do for a long time, so it’s a real honour to be asked to compose a new piece for this incredible group, whose fearless and committed working style is nothing short of inspirational.
“Musically, it has been an exciting opportunity to work outside of my comfort zone and I’m looking forward to being involved in performing the new piece in December.”
The River Keeper is a timeless story of hope, love and the power of the elements. The poignant and darkly humorous tale is created from the stories told by the cast of Streetwise Opera performers.
Bridie was commissioned to write the score for The River Keeper as she has worked with Streetwise Opera before. The charity’s North East groups performed her Final Lullaby for the Holocaust Memorial Day programme earlier this year.
Matt Peacock, founder and chief executive of Streetwise Opera, says: “Ever since our North East groups sang Bridie’s Final Lullaby, I have wanted us to work with her again. Her music is sensational and she is one of the most exciting artists working in the North East. We all feel very excited that she, writer Nell Leyshon and director Annie Rigby are going to create a new short opera that will launch our first Little Opera Season.”
The River Keeper will be performed by 40 North East performers who have all been attending Streetwise Opera’s weekly community music workshops.
The charity runs regular programmes in the North East – at mima in Middlesbrough, at Sage Gateshead and in Changing Lives’ homeless centres in Newcastle.
You can see The River Keeper and Bridie Jackson and The Arbour at Gateshead Old Town Hall on December 10 and at Middlesbrough Town Hall on December 16. Both performances start at 7.30pm. For more information go to www.streetwiseopera.org/river-keeper