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Playground Opera

Playground Opera is Longborough Festival Opera's project to bring opera into schools.

Playground Opera makes opera more accessible and provides an exciting first experience of opera for hundreds of children. We prioritise schools in areas of rural or economic deprivation, where children have little access to high-quality culture. Playground Opera abridges classic operas, involving the pupils in rewriting the story, meeting the characters, and singing and dancing along to the music, resulting in an absorbing and highly engaging performance.

Over 1,500 pupils have the chance to dig deeper and analyse the story, working in small groups with our team to make the story more relevant and in most cases, more extraordinary. Children are shown how to project their singing voices and to express themselves through movement. 

The opportunity to engage in high-quality artistic experiences can give students a huge boost in confidence. Our approach creates a fun and liberating environment in which children can express themselves.

Take part in 2024

Our 2024 production, The Implausible Potions of Dr Dulcamara, is based on Donizetti’s Elixir of Love that tells the tale of haughty Adina, loved by shy Nemorino, who's intimidated by the boastful Belcore - all of whom are hoodwinked by the unscrupulous Dr Dulcamara. Love, longing, lies and gossip, plus some magic potions and a lot of confusion make this story a brilliant one for children; remarkably not one drop of blood is shed this time! The day culminates in a 45-minute, abridged performance of the opera, performed by members of the Longborough Festival Opera company and musicians.

How it works

The Playground Opera company, including our director, singers and instrumentalists, would like to spend a full day at your school.

We run a 90-minute workshop to 30 of your Year 5/6s, unpacking the issues of the story, getting the children to consider their own choices and rewrite the narrative. These pupils will learn the one of Dr Dulcamara's arias as well as rehearse their parts as the gossiping villagers in the chorus. 

After lunch, the company will perform the abridged opera to all of your students and include participation for the students who learnt their parts in the morning workshops.

Tour Dates: 
Tuesday 4 June - Friday 14 June 

(Please note: performances on 4 and 14 June will be at Cidermill Theatre in Chipping Campden. We would visit you in the morning to run the workshop, and you would come to Cidermill Theatre in the afternoon for the performance. These dates are suited to local schools to Chipping Campden.)

What we need from you
  • 30 students from year 5/6 to be in the workshop/performance. 
  • An audience to watch the matinee performance of the opera. 
  • A room large enough for us to work and perform in (we work around lunch hours).
    • The set requires a depth of around 3 metres. 
  • A selection of dates that suit you, to help us with our planning.

£150 for the whole day.

We fundraise vigorously in order to offer a 95% subsidy for state primary schools. 

To book for your school, contact jess@lfo.org.uk

Previous productions

Playground Opera Showcase March 23 Lr Cr Rachel Jones 13

2023 - The Downfall of Don José

Back by popular demand, our 2023 Playground Opera returned with The Downfall of Don José. We visited schools in rural Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire: in ten schools, 449 students attended workshops and performed in the opera and 1,215 children watched the performance.

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2022 - The Downfall of Don José

The 2022 production was a specially written version of Carmen: The Downfall of Don José, abridged to include the essence of the story, some of the most iconic music, and aligned with school values. We spent a whole day at each school, involving 1,500 students throughout the process.

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2021 - Hansel and Gretel

During 2021, our small-scale production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel visited 14 state schools across the surrounding counties, reaching over 1,400 children aged 5-14. Designed for outdoor playground performances, this vibrant production was a Covid-safe way to bring back opera into schools and re-engage children in the social, cultural and health benefits of singing together.

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A scheme for singers that have recently finished, or are about to finish, their vocal studies; performers at the beginning of their careers; and those returning to the profession.