News: The Musician: A Horror Opera for Children

Conor Mitchell’s darkly comic children’s opera retells a familiar story: ‘who was the Pied Piper? and ‘Why did the rats all dance to his tune?’ This world premiere from the award-winning Belfast Ensemble brings opera home to Northern Ireland. Musically extraordinary, this cautionary tale explores themes of nature, nurture and just desserts!

The Musician is stylishly staged using the latest in technological innovation, a medieval story told in a 21st century way. The international cast exist at the foreground in a bubble of colour and light, accompanied by a socially-distanced 16-piece orchestra, glowing and visible. Filmed live for Belfast Children’s Festival in the Lyric Theatre Belfast, this production stands as proof that great theatre can happen even in a pandemic and marks a new direction for opera in Northern Ireland. The Musician gives a message of hope for young audiences.

The Belfast Ensemble’s take on Grimm’s fairy tale The Pied Piper of Hamelin gives the story a horror prequel harking back to the legend’s roots. A musician in the making is mistreated by the people around him. With the power to control mice and rats with his melodies, will he choose to help the town or take bloody revenge? A tale of poetic justice at a time when artists are in crisis, this is a Covid-reactive production that asks children big questions about art and society.

Multi award-winning opera/music-theatre composer, librettist and stage director, Conor Mitchell, who is Artistic Director of the Belfast Ensemble said: “The Musician is the only Northern Irish opera created in lockdown. It’s really the company’s candle in the dark for children everywhere showing that anything is possible with imagination.”

The Belfast Ensemble is one of the UK’s most vibrant music-theatre companies. 2019 saw their ground-breaking chamber opera Abomination: a DUP Opera win Best Opera at the Irish Times Theatre Awards and be listed in the Top Ten Classical Works of 2019 alongside works from the Royal Opera House and others.

The Musician: A Horror Opera for Children is streaming online from Friday 12 – Sunday 14 March 2021.

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