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HighTime For Change - Warwick Graduates Bring World Class Opera To Coventry

Posted on 28 April 2015

Two University of Warwick graduates turned professional directors are on a mission: to bring opera to Coventry.

Working in association with the Belgrade Theatre, their first production, Hansel and Gretel, will run 7-9 May 2015. In this brand new English translation of Humperdinck’s masterpiece, HighTime Opera sharply renovate the traditional tale for the twenty-first century. Dazzling magicians, tumbling acrobats and a gaggle of clowns bring the magic of opera to life for an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

Felicity Green and Benjamin Hamilton first met in 2009 and have been working together ever since. Both developed a passion for opera working with the university’s opera society, Opera Warwick, and the pair directed three sell-out productions at the Warwick Arts Centre.

Since then, both have worked with companies across the country, but felt something was missing: Coventry did not have a professional opera company to call its own. By securing the support of Arts Council England to absolve this absence, ‘HighTime’ was born.

Stage Director, Felicity Green says: ‘We want to shatter the myth that opera is elitist, and that you need a vast concert hall and millions of pounds to create amazing productions. HighTime translates work into English and produces fun, modern music-theatre of the highest standard that everyone can enjoy.

‘We want to give people a really enjoyable, magical evening out, and we think that by updating this classic fairy tale, we will do just that’.

And this is no ordinary Hansel and Gretel. Sung in a new English translation produced with Kit Hesketh Harvey (Kit and the Widow, BBC Comedy Proms), Hansel and Gretel live on the outskirts of society, hungry and poor, when their mother sends them to forage for food on the mean city streets. News soon arrives that the circus has come to town, led by a very sinister Ringmaster, renowned for luring children away from their homes with the intoxicating smell of frying hot dogs…

Musical Director Benjamin Hamilton says: ‘we have founded HighTime with the aim of bringing excellent opera to Coventry. Having lived here for most of my life, I feel really passionately about this. We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with the Belgrade Theatre and hope to become a company the city can be truly proud of.’

Keen to instill a love of the arts in the younger generation, the company are also giving 60 children from schools across Coventry their first taste of opera, with the chance to perform in the chorus of the production. The young people will appear alongside internationally-acclaimed professional singers, whose credits include the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Hansel and Gretel runs 7-9 May 2015 at the Belgrade Theatre B2. Tickets are available from ww.w.belgrade.co.uk or by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055.

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