Music and Theatre For All launches three major new projects supported by The Arts Council

The Arts Council has awarded innovative UK charity Music and Theatre For All (MTFA) a major new grant to develop three ambitious projects in the wake of Covid 19. 

Each project furthers the charity’s core objectives, and each has been developed and shaped in response to the changes the pandemic has forced on both the cultural sector and society in general.

MTFA is built on the ideas of fostering and renewing a sense of belonging and community through shared culture; of bringing together people of all backgrounds including the most disadvantaged with world-class professionals in the creation and experience of opera, music and theatre in as local a setting as possible; and challenging the perception that live music and theatre are not for everyone. Each project hinges on the idea that sharing the process of creating high quality music and theatre has a vital part to play in the revitalisation of our society and our economy, and each provides employment as well as engagement opportunities, championing excellence and accessibility. 

About the Projects:

Urban Operas: Urban Operas will bring participants together across individual UK boroughs and cities for one year, during which time they will create their own show from start to finish. Local communities, schoolchildren, youth groups, choirs, local bands, dance groups, families and dramatic societies will work with industry professionals to: develop a libretto based on local stories; design and create sets, costumes and lighting; compose the score; perform the chorus roles and music; and stage manage and advertise the entire performance. The result will be a spectacular site-specific opera, designed for a particular city, by the people of that city. The project draws on the Royal Opera House’s acclaimed ‘Write an Opera’ scheme (1985-2015), which itself formed the basis of the Thurrock Community Opera Ludd and Isis performed in 2010 (and directed by MTFA artistic director Thomas Guthrie) to launch the ROH Production Park. MTFA are planning to bring Urban Operas to a number of different cities over the next 20 years, starting in the London Borough of Culture Lewisham in 2022.  

The Secret Library: A brand new opera inspired by the true story of underground rebel fighters who created a secret library in Syria in 2014. This opera will be made in collaboration with Syrian refugees through Together Production’s Sing for Freedom Choir and Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, who will take part in the development process. An inspiring story of courage, determination, imagination, and the power of books and stories to educate, entertain and set free in the most inhumane of circumstances. 

Schubert 200: Schubert’s three great song cycles came about in a creative, spontaneous storytelling atmosphere where friends dressed up, recited poetry and brought along different instruments. Schubert 200 will celebrate this historical approach, by creating highly engaging, visually creative performances of each cycle, using puppetry and arrangements for unusual instrumentation to bring them to life and appeal to wider audiences. MTFA will tour performances of the three cycles to coincide with their respective 200th anniversaries (Die schöne Müllerin in 2023,  Winterreise  in 2027 and  Schwanengesang  in 2028), and will record the arrangements with international guitarist Craig Ogden and members of Barokksolistene (dir Bjarte Eike) for Rubicon Classics.  

Speaking about the three projects, MTFA Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Guthrie comments:

Music and storytelling have a unique ability to draw together a multitude of different elements and people in moments that can integrate, identify and inspire communities. These three ambitious projects, the first of  many, will address the areas that most need change, care and investment: opera’s role as an elemental human method of storytelling; the opportunities it presents to tell emotionally powerful new stories, and the need for established classics to be reinvented and made available to all.”