Magic Flute will welcome back talented youth for opera performances in Bedford

Gordon Hodges and Andrew Hopper, of Beds Youth Opera.
Gordon Hodges and Andrew Hopper, of Beds Youth Opera.

Bedfordshire Youth Opera is being relaunched with a production of Mozart’s Magic Flute.

A group of 27 young singers and 19 instrumentalists from Bedfordshire and beyond take to

Beds Youth Opera singer Eve McGrath.

Beds Youth Opera singer Eve McGrath.

the stage at The Place Theatre in Bedford this week.

Following 32 years of highly successful productions, Bedfordshire Youth Opera has been relaunched by the Bedfordshire Music Trust, and will be performing Mozart’s “Magic Flute” as their first production in September. They will be performing the English version by Jeremy Sams by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd.

The cast ranges in age from 14 to 26 and participants come from all walks of life, with some coming from as far away as Lichfield and Reading. Some are still at school, many are studying at music college or university, and some are in the early stages of their careers as professional musicians. For many this is their first time performing on stage. The orchestra is also largely student-based and features some of Bedfordshire’s most promising young musicians.

Eve McGrath, 25, from Bedford, who will be performing the famously challenging role of Queen of the Night, said: “I have been working as a professional choral and concert soprano since graduating with a music degree from Birmingham University in 2010, but I was keen to develop my opera experience.

“Bedfordshire Youth Opera has given me the chance to perform a role that I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to sing.”

Chorus member Todd Bastin, 17, said “This is my first year in the Youth Opera – and indeed my first time performing any opera – and it’s been a great experience. I have been singing in the bass chorus but I have also had the chance to take a few lines of dialogue and develop my stage confidence.”

Director Dan Smith, a former Youth Opera participant, said “Rehearsals have been going exceptionally well. We have an extraordinarily talented cast who are working incredibly hard to bring together what looks to be a fantastic production.”

Musical director David Knight said: “Mozart’s writing has a lightness and wittiness about it that appeals to all ages and works extremely well with a young cast. Mozart originally wrote the role of Pamina in 1791 for the teenage soprano Anna Gottlieb – and we have an 18-year-old playing the same role in this production - Bethany McLeish.

“Our youngest principal is 14-year-old Ruby Thorne (Second Boy).”

The cast and chorus have been hard at work since their first course at Easter, where they started to learn the music, and they started to stage the show in mid-August. During the rehearsal weeks, participants have been coached by world-famous opera singer Rachel Nicholls, herself a former Bedfordshire Youth Opera participant, and have also received coaching from two other Youth Opera alumni, soprano Donna Lennard and tenor Matt Kimble, who are both pursuing successful opera careers.

Nick Wood, Chairman of the Bedfordshire Music Trust, said: “We are delighted to be producing this year’s Youth Opera, and are enormously grateful to the Harpur Trust, Wixamtree Trust and Friends of Bedfordshire Music for their support of this year’s Youth Opera production.”

Performances of The Magic Flute are running this week from Wednesday, September 3 until Saturday, September 6 at 7.30pm at The Place Theatre, Bradgate Road, Bedford.

Tickets are available from The Place Theatre website