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Playground Opera 2022 - The Downfall of Don José

Playground Opera makes opera accessible, shows young people that it is entertaining and thought-provoking, and provides an exciting first experience of opera. We partnered with schools in areas of rural or economic deprivation, where children have little access to high-quality culture. 

With fewer restrictions this year, we spent a whole day at each school, involving 1,500 students throughout the process. 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 visited ten schools; ranging from a large inner-city Academy in Gloucester, a middle school in Redditch, and a South Warwickshire special education needs school, to our local rural school in Longborough. 

One of the most heartening experiences in my lifetime of involvement with music education as well as reviewing

Midlands Music Reviews
  • 10 state schools participated 
  • 366 children participated in the workshops, and performed in the show alongside professional artists
  • 1,496 children in total participated or watched the performances, plus all the teaching staff and many parents
  • Provided valuable employment to 19 creative practitioners, including 6 Emerging Artists who gained vital experience of touring and working with young people 
  • Facilitated access and learning, providing important cultural enrichment for young people, and raising awareness and understanding of opera
  • Hundreds of children were shown how to project their singing voices and to express themselves through movement and storytelling
  • Increase in confidence, collaboration, and creativity skills
  • Expanded young people’s cultural net beyond what they hear on Spotify or see on YouTube
  • Developed critical thinking skills
  • Changed perceptions of opera ‘It was so amazing; I want to see an opera every term!’ - Student at Moat Academy, Gloucester ‘22
  • Increased the cultural capital of the school community 
  • Throughout the process, even the most challenged children listened, collaborated, and followed instructions

Playground Opera provides an opportunity for the pupils to enrich their world experience. It enables some to shine who may not usually.

Teacher, St. David’s Primary School, Moreton in Marsh
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Director Maria Jagusz
Designer Harry Pizzey
Assistant Director Marienella Phillips
Choreographer Alice Oakley-Jones
Repetiteur Will Sharma


Don José Seumas Begg
Carmen Marienella Phillips
Escamillo Matthew Siveter


Don José Daniel Jagusz Holley
Carmen Alice Nelson
Escamillo George Robards


Accordion Milos Milivojevic
Keyboard Jessica May
Stage Managers Sarah Plowright, Aaron Bixley
Assistant Stage Manager Jude Bixley Plowright

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Playground Opera 2023 3


Part of our ongoing programme to make great opera accessible to a younger audience, fully immersing local state schools into the plots and music with participation and preparation.

Youth Chorus 2


Find out how to participate in our projects for young people and the community.

Youth Chorus Cr Matthew Williams Ellis 32


Find out about our work for schools.