The Orphans of Koombu

Fri 12 - Sat 20 July 2019

Allan Stephenson (b.1949)

A Buxton International Festival production, with schools from the High Peak and Derbyshire.

Oppression, uprising, euphoria and a new world order. In such uncertain times, never has it been more important to listen to the next generation and encourage them to raise their voices to be heard.

Based on The Secret Song written by award-winning author Michael Williams, this African chamber opera features singers from the Festival Company and 200 young people from seven different secondary schools in Derbyshire and the High Peak. First performed by Cape Town Opera to communities throughout South Africa, The Orphans of Koombu combines opera, musical theatre and African harmonies in a work about oppression and freedom.

Three travellers, Sticks, Sophia and Silas set out on journey to the mysterious town of Koombu. They meet a group of young people digging holes, who run from them in terror. Sticks discovers that the townsfolk are hiding a dark secret which threatens to destroy the town. The land responds to this betrayal of its youth by drying the rivers and springs. Can the three travellers inspire the orphans and bring harmony and healing to an artificially fractured society?

Thanks to the Koombu Syndicate and:

LG Harris Trust
Derbyshire Music Hub
Devonshire Educational Trust
Andre Bernheim Charitable Trust
D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
Derbyshire County Council
Action Grants
Tesco Bags of Help

School Performances:

Fri 12 Jul – Antony Gell School

Sat 13 Jul – New Mills School and St Philip Howard Catholic Voluntary Academy

Mon 15 Jul – Hope Valley College and St Thomas More Catholic School

Tue 16 Jul – St Thomas More Catholic School and Hope Valley College

Wed 17 Jul – Buxton Community School

Fri 19 Jul – St Philip Howard Catholic Voluntary Academy and New Mills School

Sat 20 Jul – The Tinderbox Performing Arts

Creative cast

Mark Burns, Director

Born in Buxton, Mark Burns works extensively as a director of opera and in 2015 founded The Opera Box, a new company that stages rarely performed operas with small casts and staged song repertoire. He staged the company’s sell-out first production, Open the Box, as part of the Totally Thames Festival in 2016 and returned in 2017 directing a new production of Mozart’s The Impresario and Lambert’s new semi-opera The Oval Portrait.

Tom Newall, Conductor

After studies at Durham University and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, British conductor Tom Newall is currently Music Director of Blackburn Music Society, Salford Choral Society and Leeds Youth Opera, and is the Artistic Director of Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra. Tom founded Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra in early 2014 to give aspiring professional musicians and conductors the opportunity to play a wide range of repertoire in a high quality ensemble, helping to bridge the gap between a player’s studies and professional orchestras.

Michael Williams
Book & lyrics

Kitty Callister
Designer

Lead cast

Sticks, Daniella Sicari

Daniella is an Australian/British soprano who completed her postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. Daniella is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards which include the WA Young People & The Arts International Award, Amanda Roocroft Prize, The Joyce & Michael Kennedy Strauss Prize, John Cameron Award for Lieder, The Elizabeth Harwood Prize and Robin Kay Memorial Prize.

Sophia, Fiona Finsbury

Soprano Fiona Finsbury trained at the RNCM School of Vocal Studies and Opera under the tutelage of Jane Irwin. ​She has a particular interest in contemporary opera, and recently performed the role of Hanna in the world premiere of Adam Gorb’s opera, The Path To Heaven, at the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds.

Silas, Edward Robinson

Edward is a baritone, based in the North West of England, currently studying for his Master of Music postgraduate degree at the Royal Northern College of Music. Edward’s passion for opera has lead him to perform in a number of innovative productions during his career. He has performed with Dorset Opera festival, Clonter Opera and was a Young Artist at Buxton International Festival, 2018.

Beadle, Andrew Masterson

Judge, Einar Steffanson

Policeman, Peter Lidbetter

Innkeeper, Rhiannon Doogan

Townsfolk, Jordan Harding Pointon

Townsfolk, Molly Barker

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