4th August 2014
Welcome back for our final celebration of what has been a very special experience of Benjamin Britten’s superb masterpiece, Noye’s Fludde.
Our performance on Saturday 19th July 2014 was truly extraordinary.
We rehearsed all day on 18th July at the Bath and West showground in the enormous performance space of Edmund Rack. Rehearsals went really well, all the children and staff of Brookside were outstanding in their hard work and determination. The 18th July was the very first time that the entire company were together ... it was so exciting and the sound was incredible with all the voices and our stunning Noye orchestra.
On the day of the performance, we had an excellent Dress rehearsal ... then the skies darkened and the heavens opened. There was thunder and lightening and torrents of water came flooding through Edmund Rack ... a river began to flow right through the performance space and we were desperately brushing the water through just twenty minutes before the doors opened for the audience to enter.
Miraculously, the rain stopped ... the noise on the roof was deafening ... we managed to brush the floodwater through and check that all was safe, then the audience entered …
The space was full of people, we had created a truly modern day Miracle Play scene as the cast performed on raised platforms over a sea of faces. The sound of the Brookside children singing was overwhelming and deeply moving, the Children of Noye and the outrageous Gossips rose to the occasion, no small challenge as they performed to hundreds of people, for some their very first performing experience … Mr and Mrs Noye, Amy J Payne and Jimmy Holliday, were spectacular, the perfect leaders and tellers of the tale ...
God was played by our fabulous Eleanor Westbrook, who had joined the production team as a support, but soon showed her exceptional talent as an actress. Eleanor towered over everyone on a raised platform from a huge JCB truck wearing an 80’s power suite and sunglasses!
Our stunning Raven and Dove, Max and Amy, created a very special visual moment as they danced across the audience on a moving stage ... the effect was magical.
The orchestra was exceptional, with the Recorder section and the Percussionists performing on two flatbed trailers, and a swathe of String players in-between creating a rich and magnificent sound. The world class Musicians of the Philharmonia Orchestra were stunning , whilst James Risdon, the Recorder soloist sang through with his beautiful playing. Andy Barclay and his superb team of Percussionists were a power house, driving the performance forward and creating contrasting atmosphere with their skilful effects.
The pupils of Wells Cathedral School were outstanding in their professionalism and passion to perform, a most heartfelt thank you to Dorothy Nancekievill for all her support with staff and pupils.
The opera closed with the magical bells of the Chiselborough Hand Bell Ringers, as the great doors at the back of the huge Edmund Rack rose to let the 'new day' and post-storm sunlight. Over one thousand audience members sang with the glorious voices of the Brookside children and staff, Children of Noye, Gossips, Mr. and Mrs. Noye, and thousands of audience members soaring above the orchestra and the church organ.
Rosanna created the most beautiful rainbow possible with a cascade of coloured streamers, balloons and confetti to which the audience gasped with delight and spontaneously applauded.
Many many people have expressed how special this performance was to them, from both the audience and the performers ... I think this unique collaboration between Simon Harvey and the Kneehigh team, Charles Hazlewood and the Philharmonia, is testament to the power of live performance and opera to create an unforgettable experience.
Thank you to absolutely everyone who has helped to make this production so extraordinary, and thank you to all who have followed the project and who came to see the performance, your energy and support was vital for the success and impact.
... and thank you Benjamin Britten for your brilliance and vision, you have touched the hearts of many and we salute you!
A selection of photos from the event, taken by Charles Glover.