Noye Ahoy! Reflections

After the Flood

A selection of photos from the event, taken by Charles Glover.

Comments and testimonials from those who are involved with the project and those who attended the event. 

  • “Music is the most universal language we have, and it brings people together better than anything else. A truly wonderful example of this was our gargantuan Noye’s Fludde production in Somerset in 2014. The combination of a vast sprawling orchestra (age 7-85!!), a singing company of 500 plus, an audience of easily 1000 – also in full voice – a storm of biblical proportions (not to mention Britten’s!), made for an unbeatable and unforgettable experience. It is moments like this which make me remember why I make music, and just how important it is.”

    Charles Hazlewood

  • “The Philharmonia Orchestra supplied a quintet to perform the solo string parts in Project Noye 2014. I worked extensively with Ellie Velazquez, project manager, to ensure that the musical and practical logistics for the Philharmonia participation were worked out, and was impressed by her professionalism in all respects. The rehearsal period was productive, leading to a performance that was truly exceptional. The quality of the musicianship was excellent, the commitment of performers (young and old alike) was total, and the overall interpretation of a complex and multi-layered work was incredibly impressive. The production was ambitious but successful, delivered with integrity, and achieved a very high standard in terms of music, staging, and audience experience. The recent severe flooding in Somerset (and very heavy rain on the performance day!) made the performance even more poignant, as did the involvement by such a broad range of the local community. It was a truly special production of the finest quality, and it will undoubtedly remain long in the memory of participants and audience.”

    Lindsay Wilson, Director of Education, Philharmonia Orchestra

  • “Kneehigh were thrilled to be involved in Project NOYE led by Charles Hazlewood, Ellie Valezquez and the Orchestival team.  The community opera brought together local school children and amateur musicians with world class performers, culminating in a one off performance in a huge cattle barn at the Bath & West Showground. From Kneehigh’s point of view it was an ambitious and successful project. 

    Working with Brookside Community Primary School and members of Wells Cathedral School was rewarding for the Kneehigh team. We worked at the school every week for a term, rehearsing regularly with the whole school, teaching songs and working with them to design and make cardboard animals for the opera.  It was great to witness the children’s progression over the course of the term and how excited they all were on the day of the performance. It was astonishing to witness them singing with a full 60-strong orchestra and performing alongside professional opera singers.
    The performance was a massive success, despite of the difficult wet weather on the day. Orchestival, Kneehigh and a team of volunteers pulled together to ensure the space was flood free in time for the audience to arrive. The project brought together over 1000 members of the local community; mums and dads from the school, the children from Brookside School  and pupils from Wells Cathedral School the Philarmonia orchestra led by Charles Hazelwood, professional opera singers, all standing together in the barn. 
    The Somerset levels had only recently suffered the worst flooding in history and as the rain beat down on the shed and the children sang and musicians played it felt like a timely and poignant moment for the audience, some of whom had been affected by the floods.
    The end of the opera, when everyone in the barn was singing together, was a real triumph and for us that moment encapsulated the spirit and energy of a large scale community opera.”

    Liz King, Assistant Producer, Kneehigh

  • “As Headteacher of Brookside School with over 400 children and 100 staff I always welcomed exciting opportunities for the children at the school.
    Taking part in Noyes Fludde was one of the highlights of my long career. Why? It is very rare to find somebody bold enough to allow the whole school with children aged 4 – 11 to take part! However it is these extraordinary learning experiences, which build the characters of children, and the culture of the school. This was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for the children, and adults, which was gripped, celebrated and relished. These opportunities do not present themselves often, particularly for the whole school community, and must be grasped, to enhance the learning and lives of children.
    It gave an opportunity for every child in the school to take part in a real production and to play their full part, an experience that each one will never forget;

    The children were involved from the start with costume design, learning songs, playing music, making costumes, learning moves, staging and the discipline of performance;

    The children had the opportunity to work with professional singers, musicians, artists, directors and technicians;

    The whole curriculum for the term was geared towards this one amazing experience;

    Teachers, teaching assistants, admin staff, governors and managers were all fully involved in the production;

    Parents were able to be share in the final performance and enjoy seeing their children in a true spectacular.

    Children were able to see and understand the commitment and discipline of perfecting something special. They saw outstanding performances by truly talented artists, and they were inspired to do their very best to ensure that the final result was professional.
    Personally for me, I could not have chosen anything more meaningful to bring my career at the school to a close. It embodied everything that I believe about education; children need to live and breathe the learning, they need to have resilience and aim for their very best, they need to see an outcome, and this was the perfect outcome.
    I hope that many more children will be able to experience the anticipation, the passion and the excitement of this wonderful event in the future.”

    Claire Axten CBE
    Headteacher, Brookside Primary School, Street
    1995 – 2014

  • “My name is Andy Barclay and I’m the principal percussionist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
    I have known Ellie Velazquez (nee Marsden) since our student days and when she asked me to help with some coaching for her Noye’s Fludde project I was really happy to be able to get involved. I ended up playing in the performance as well which was unlike anything I’d done before.

    The way the production was staged in the venue (a huge barn) was brilliantly conceived and the involvement of so many local musicians and hundreds of schoolchildren made the whole event totally inspiring.
    Kneehigh and Charles Hazelwood were superb in the way they drew it all together. Britten (whose genius was at the root of it all) would I’m sure have been delighted with the results.”

    Andy Barclay, London Philharmonic Orchestra

  • “One of the highlights of my year in 2014 was Noye’s Fludde. To work on this fabulous piece with two people as brilliant as Charlie and Simon was an absolute joy. Their enthusiasm and commitment to innovation and participation was as inspiring to me as it was to the kids! It was fantastic to have the opportunity to work so intensely with the children over the fortnight. It was particularly rewarding to help them grow and shape their characters and also to help them gain valuable experience of a large-scale opera production. When it came to the show itself, it was wonderful to feel the spirit of community behind us, which was reflected in the large numbers which attended, despite the wet weather! I would work again on this project or on something similar with the same team in a heartbeat. I feel very proud of what we achieved in those few weeks last summer.”

    Amy J Payne, ‘Mrs. Noye’

  • “The Wells Cathedral School pupils benefited greatly from being involved in Noye’s Fludde. 
    Leading up to the  production the monthly performance visits by 3 students to Brookside school introduced a variety of instruments to Brookside  and gave a new performance opportunity for Wells pupils.   Playing to a whole school morning assembly of young children in a large hall was a new challenge, as was answering questions about their playing whilst conquering their nerves ! All thoroughly enjoyed it and were sad it ended, as were our musicians and drama students who performed in the production. 
    It was a valuable experience for Wells Cathedral School students.”

    Dominique Swain
    Music Outreach Co-ordinator, Wells Cathedral School (March 2015)

  • “I joined the epic Noye’s Fludde project with great anticipation and excitement. It seemed already to have so much behind it…
    There was already a lot of research about the Somerset flooding, to which I contributed, having grown up right in the centre of the Levels. And then there was the sheer scale of the one-off performance itself. I remember my first phone conversation with Ellie, hearing that she’d managed to get hold of tractor trailers for the percussion section to perform upon! 
    I arrived as extra support for the kids, playing games, and helping to teach Britten’s glorious music. I departed, having played God, in a ‘man-cage’ atop a stretched tractor arm. To be able to shoot a confetti canon over 1,500 heads as Britten’s incredible storm reached its climax, with the work of my childhood’s inspiration Kneehigh Theatre in front of me, and Charles Hazlewood’s inspiring conducting arms to my left, was without question, a life highlight! 
    I am an Actor Musician with a great fascination in effective, stirring, audience participation and this was a marriage of all of my loves, for one incredible, fleeting performance. So many human hours were laboured into that wonderful, conclusive afternoon, and the experience has absolutely propelled my passions and career forward. 
    Being able to put ‘God’ on my acting credits is pretty satisfying too.”

    Eleanor Westbrook, ‘God’

  • “Charlie loved playing the trumpet with you, and we were very impressed with the production. He’s gone to do some work experience in Ealing for a few days, so is not here to say Thanks himself, but I know it was great for him. If you ever need a trumpet again, I’m sure he’d love to be involved again.”

    Alex Fraser (July 2014)

  • “Thank you again for a fantastic experience last weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of rehearsals and performance, it was so interesting seeing it all gradually come together, and working with a first class conductor like Charles was very exciting. Thank you for enabling Wessex Strings to be part of it!”

    Lys – Wessex Strings (July 2014)

  • “I made it and I loved it!!!

    I was absolutely staggered by the scale of the performance and the sheer ambition of it. What a spectacle to behold and a privilege to be a part of. I can now say in years to come ‘I was there’…
    Of special delight was to see Rowan Wilson shine. I’ve always rated him and known him to be a special performer. What I was especially delighted to see was him step up his performance and have the instinct to connect with the audience as well as he did. Well done Rowan. I hope Kneehigh will keep him in mind for the future…”

    Nic Lacey – Audience member

  • “It was an incredible experience!  I have never played in an opera before. Although I have performed in concerts at Bryanston and in school, I have never performed in a large orchestra, with professional musicians and I loved it.  I was particularly inspired by the recorder player and the conductor, Charles Hazlewood, who was very funny in the rehearsals and told lots of jokes to keep us entertained.  I loved hearing the soloists and choirs sing and watching the drama.  I made 2 new friends with whom I keep in touch by email. 
    I felt very excited on the day of the performance – it was awesome!
    Yes – I would definitely do it again!  It has inspired me to take part in other operas and I also now play violin in the Dorset Apprentice Orchestra.”

    Beatrice Wood (age 9yrs), 2nd violin. (March 2015)

  • “It was a brilliant experience – I loved every minute!  I hadn’t played my viola for 10 years and was inspired to re-string my instrument and join my daughter in the orchestra.  It was an amazing venue, and a unique experience, packed full with schoolchildren, amateur and professional musicians and singers.  It inspired me to start playing again and I have now joined the Sherborne Community Orchestra.

    I felt a bit apprehensive on the day of the performance, but excited.  I would LOVE to do something similar again!  My only criticism is that there was only one performance!
    Wonderful memories!”

    Isabel Wood, viola. (March 2015)

  • “Thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would do it again!

    It was a fantastic opportunity to be part of a huge , live performance  and rehearsals were a learning experience – hard work , but worthwhile.
    Privilege to work with professionals and a well known conductor.

    I was one of the handbellers, we had certainly never done anything like that before, but it was an amazing experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and has helped us up our standard and given us more confidence.  I had never played in an orchestra before, so that was all new, everyone was so kind and friendly to us and very patient!!

    If the opportunity arose again I would love to take part.
    My first participation in a live opera production with such a large cast.
    Felt a bit out of our depth at times and rehearsals rather daunting, but we did it!!
    Wonderful to see people of all ages and backgrounds having fun making music.

    A great experience working with such a charismatic conductor.
    The feedback from friends and relatives who came to watch was v positive and how much they had enjoyed – they would have certainly told me otherwise if necessary!
    To conclude I would like to say a huge well done to you and the team of organisers.
    What will your next project be Ellie?? Please let me know!”

    Cilla Caswell, Chiselborough Handbell Ringers

  • “I have only experienced watching opera performed, never been in one myself. I had performed, mostly singing in services or concerts but also acting in school plays. In Noye’s Fludde I played a Gossip, and sung a part near the beginning of the opera and most of the choruses. I thoroughly enjoyed rehearsing it, partly because it was such a new experience and also because the rehearsals were made to be enjoyable and inclusive to all the cast members. On the day of the performance I was fairly nervous, but once the production started I became more confident and enjoyed the whole performance. I definitely enjoyed the experience as a whole. Some of the cast members I knew well already, but I also met people I had gone to primary school with and hadn’t seen for a while, and so this improved my relationship with them, and also people I had never met before. I would do it again, and I definitely have a different view of opera, the experience having made me appreciate it a lot more. It has made me more confident in singing especially, and opened my eyes to other types of performance.”

    Ella Corlett, ‘Gossip’

    Ella is now seriously considering studying voice at music college, or possibly applying for a choral scholarship to Oxbridge. Theatre is another passion of Ella’s and so opera ticks all the boxes. Ella jumps at the chance to watch opera, recently seeing ENO’s La Traviata and looking forward to going to the New York Metropolitan Opera this Easter to see Verdi’s “Ernani”

  • As far as my personal experience goes I thoroughly enjoyed being part of an event involving so many wonderful young & enthusiastic participants. At the age of 80, you don’t often get a chance to take part in such an exciting project. The children in the orchestra were great & it was lovely to see their faces enjoying it all so much.
    My abiding memory of the day will be hearing the torrential rain thundering on the roof as we played the storm music – I’m sure God was involved at that moment !!

    Louise Stewart-Cox, Viola player

  • The opera was a huge undertaking, particularly as there were so many different groups taking part. Your choice of participants was excellent as everyone gave of their very best and the end result was magnificent. I was delighted to be asked as I took part in a production of Noyes Fludde in 1962 in Bristol Cathedral. I was one of the recorder section then as I was in this production. I had only been playing recorder for four or five years at that stage so last year felt like completing a circle.

    I have seen quite a few operas – some conventionally staged in traditional theatres and some performances by the Birmingham Opera Company which specialises in community operas staged in the round and involving the audience in the same sort of way as the Kneehigh Theatre Company does.

    As a recorder player I have played for productions of Shakespeare plays and played and sung in amateur productions of musical theatre but not in opera.  I have performed a lot but mostly concerts of purely recorder music and although I am a member of two Recorder Orchestras I have not played recorder as part of such a large “symphony-type” orchestra before. That orchestra was amazing due to the huge age-range of the performers and the wide range of instruments played. Charles Hazlewood is a truly inspirational conductor. Watching him work was fascinating. He had total control of each rehearsal and talked to all of us as musical equals, appreciating everyone’s effort and dedication.

    He carried all the musicians along with him. To rehearse such a large group of children as well as he did takes a special skill and talent.
    The animal chorus, all 400+ children, sang with musicality, confidence, feeling and power. Their contribution was very moving.
    [The 1962 production I was in was on a much smaller scale and conventionally staged with all the music and the majority of the action taking place at the front. The congregation obviously took part in the singing but were seated and were an audience – not part of the action.]

    This production really included the audience in the action and made them an essential part of the whole. Many of those in the audience had recently experienced the widespread flooding of the Somerset Levels so the plot of the opera was particularly poignant for them. The weather took part on the day. We had torrential rain during the performance (thank goodness everyone was under cover) but the sun came out for the ending and when the huge doors were opened as the rainbow appeared to Noah the effect was glorious!

    Thank you for involving me in such an exciting, moving and memorable occasion. Yes I would do it again.

    Mary Neave, Exeter Recorder Orchestra

  • “I was a member of the cello section in the orchestra for Noye’s Fludde and very much enjoyed both the rehearsals and the performance.I have played only once before in an opera (Acis and Galatea) but have been going to opera performances for a very long time, since I started at 18 and am now over 80! Reasonably knowledgeable  as I am in the field of opera (my son-in-law is an opera designer and we follow him round the world) Noyes Fludde was a very special experience and the whole atmosphere of the occasion – the setting in the ‘Hanger’, the staging, costumes and the brilliant singing and acting of the cast – all was highly memorable. I would love to be involved in something similar in the future – as I’m sure all the other members of the ‘Wessex Strings’ would as well.”

    Julian Wiltshire, Cellist

  • “I was delighted to attend the highly motivational performance of Noye’s Fludde in the show barn at the Bath & West Showground last summer with my nine year old son.  The rain poured down and the audience all lined up, almost two by two, to gain entry, and it all seemed so apt.
    The buzz and expectation of the audience was delightful – parents talking to grandparents, neighbours greeting each other, school gate acquaintances made bolder by new surroundings; all found a space and settled until the congregational rehearsal led by Charles Hazlewood encouraged us to sing up powerfully.  We all did, willingly, because everyone around us also sang boldly and we all became participants rather than observers.
    From the start of the opera there was an immediate and sustained connection between performer and audience.  We quite literally caught the eye of God, Noah’s domestic problems were within touching distance and the crowd flowed around the ark when we needed to avoid the building work.  This was not a passive experience and therefore the impact was engaging from start to finish.
    The standard of musicianship would have been regarded as fabulous anywhere, but in the barn it seemed even better.  To stand in the centre of so many young voices and so see the pleasure and excitement at the culmination of their own involvement reflect directly back from the faces of their audience was empowering.
    It was a totally uplifting and artistically inspiring event – not only do we look forward to their next project but we sincerely hope we can get involved.” 

    Susan Duncan, Drama teacher, Milton Abbey School, Audience member

  • I had not experienced an opera before.
    I have performed many times; I am a specialist Trumpet player at Wells Cathedral School.
    I enjoyed the rehearsals; they were great fun.
    On the day of the performance I felt very excited! I enjoyed it; I liked learning more about operas and the difference between operas and other forms of music.
    I did not make any new friends but that is because I knew everyone in the Brass section.
    I would definitely do it again if I had the opportunity. 
     The project has changed the way I think about opera because I used to hate listening to singing because it was so loud and high and really piercing!  But now I have changed my mind because I got to play my Trumpet alongside the opera singers.

    Matthew Whitehead, age 12 yrs,Trumpet

  • God is a woman in a smart red suit. That was a revelation to me.
    All those scores of children – right down to the teeny tiny ones – knew exactly what they were doing, were impeccably behaved and sang most beautifully.
    It was a wonderful thing to be part of!

    Juliet Harwood, Quangle Wangle Choir

  • “As recorder players we are used to our own recorder world for consorts or as part of a baroque chamber group but to be a part of such a huge production, with so many different elements, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Personally, I have seen several Kneehigh productions and loved and admired each one so to actually be involved with members of the company was utterly thrilling. I had not anticipated that the actual performance would be such an emotional experience, particularly with the involvement of so many local children, all completely immersed in their own parts.
    I have been involved in other productions of Noyes Fludde but not on this scale.
    What is interesting, however, is that although this was a large production, I felt much more connected to the whole production than I ever have before. The people I knew who were in the audience felt the same way too.”

    Pam Smith, Exeter Recorder Orchestra

  • “This was Emily’s first experience of opera and she performed the violin as part of this performance. Although she has performed with her school orchestra, she has never performed with actors and singers in a production of this scale. It was a brilliant opportunity to experience opera, working with professional musicians and Charles Hazelwood, and a brilliant performance.”

    Hayley Trotman, speaking about Emily Trotman, age 9 yrs, Violinist

  • James Risdon, Solo Recorder.
    Reflections on Noye’s Fludde From The Perspective Of a Blind Recorder Player.

    “As a recorder player, I have a particular soft spot for Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. Among the mixed instrumental forces are a recorder ensemble and a cameo solo part, notably drawing on the recorder’s avian associations to depict the dove flying away and then returning with a leaf. There are few opportunities for recorders to be part of an orchestra rather than the soloist at the front. As a blind recorder player, this work poses some challenges both for preparation and performance. But having known of the piece for many years, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of what promised to be a spectacular production with the Cornish-based Kneehigh theatre Company under conductor Charles Hazlewood.
    Learning and memorising scores is part and parcel of being a classical musician unable to sight-read. It is a task which demands time, concentration and discipline. This is particularly true when learning a part in a larger ensemble which does not always make harmonic or melodic sense out of context.
    I first had to obtain the music in Braille for which I employed the services of a freelance Braille music transcriber. After much discussion, we decided that he would transcribe just the solo part rather than the ensemble parts as well, but retaining all cues. Rehearsal numbers were placed on a new line to aid quick navigation around the score in rehearsals. While the cues were helpful during the process of familiarising myself with the piece as a whole, they do not stand out as clearly in Braille as in print, and I soon found I needed a less cluttered score from which to learn and memorise. I prepared a learning version, leaving just the solo part. My score was thus reduced from 23 to 14 pages.
    After learning most of the part, I opted to buy a recording to aid my preparation. For several weeks I absorbed every second in as much detail as I could, but taking care not to be influenced too much by the artists’ interpretation.
    Eventually, it was time to pick up a recorder. Despite my conservative estimates, I found my concentrated preparation had provided a solid foundation and I took just two days of focussed work to finally learn the part and be confident in my cues.
    The first full rehearsal was a wonderfully exciting moment. I savoured being part of a production that was even more amazing than the sum of its considerable parts. After each rehearsal, I added any notes and reminders to my score and printed a fresh copy. Pencil markings don’t work as well in Braille!
    The challenge from here would be the ensemble as I could not see the conductor. For the most part, this was simply a case of noting changes of tempi, rubato, pauses, and all the other subtle nuances that turn the symbols on the page into gripping music. Charles was both clear and consistent but I still needed my ears out on stalks.
    The recorder’s moment in the limelight is brief but marks a significant point in the narrative. It consists of two passages, one imitating the call of the dove, and the other its flight. I looked for patterns and sequences but these eluded me. I soon realised that the music is a literal representation of the narrative. The dove flies out and then retraces its flight back to the ark. All I had to do was learn the same passage forwards and backwards. This was easier said than done, especially when not everything is entirely symmetrical. This proved the most challenging part of the whole piece.
    The work closes with bugle and recorder. The recorder holds a long note with a pause which has no clearly defined end point. I devised a system with the pianist whereby she would replicate the conductor’s beats by running her finger lightly along my upper arm and giving a jab at the point I was to stop. This meant I could play with confidence and assurance, but more importantly, meant that no allowances needed to be made for my lack of sight by Charles.
    The final rehearsal was in the performance space, one of the large sheds at the Bath and West Showground. My seat was on the back of a trailor and was reached via some steps which required careful negotiation, as did the music stands and wires. For me, however, the biggest challenge was the acoustical properties of the hall which resembled that of a large cathedral. Speech and music were quickly lost into a sea of sound but were reflected back a second or two later. The time lag with performers around the hall was particularly challenging when listening for cues. I quickly tuned into those around me and relied more on their breathing for my entries and tempo.
    For me, the performance was the culmination of hours of laborious preparation and I felt a keen sense of anticipation and excitement. Orchestral engagements are, for this reason, rare for me and this was much more than just another gig. Appropriately enough, the performance coincided with a storm of biblical proportions. The sound of torrential rain on the corrugated iron roof added an additional layer of white noise to the performance. The audience, which numbered in their hundreds, deadened the acoustic slightly, but it remained a very challenging performing environment with obscured hearing and no visual communication.
    Finally, a small but significant personal success of the production was that nobody in the cast or audience need ever have known that I could not see. This performance was important for me in proving that the strategies I have developed over 25 years as a recorder player are reliable and sufficient for taking on professional work. I hope this account might encourage other visually impaired musicians to find their own practical solutions in pursuing their own goals.
    My sincere thanks to Charles Hazlewood for inviting me to be part of a very special musical experience I shall never forget, and for Ellen Velazquez for her practical assistance before the performance.”

    James Risdon, Solo Recorder.
    March 2015

  • “I heard amazing things about the show from my lot that came on Saturday. My mum was moved to make an hour-long phone call about how inspiring and beautiful it was. She’d been to La Boheme at the ROH two nights previously, but I think was more impressed by Noyes Fludde.”


  • “We so enjoyed the Noye’s Fludde and along with all the rain and storms it was even more realistic. We were so proud of James and it was a fantastic production. Do say well done to Charles Hazlewood and all the team. I think everyone loved it. The children with the animals either side were wonderful. Mum was able to see from her wheelchair stand and she sat next to Charles’s daughter and family for a little while which was nice.”

    Amanda Karpinski

  • “What I experienced last summer being part of the production of Noye’s Fludde was pure beauty, pure joy. Months later, just remembering those harmonies and the happy faces of so many children make me want to curl up, and just reminisce. It sounds overly dramatic, it sounds cheesy, but that shows how much Noye’s Fludde influenced me, in such a positive fulfilling way. All that very hard work, all that discipline, all that wonderful music, the singers, the directors, the project manager, my new friends; this team showed me how much fun participating in such a project could really be . . . so many special, creative, talented people that came together last summer to create something that I can only describe as magical. When my mother asks me how it went, I repeat– so pretty, so pretty, so pretty.
    This experience will stay with me always. It makes me love music even more; it makes me think that I will always have that feeling I had when the music had ended and I sensed happiness in the cold air. I am so grateful for having been a part of this.”

    Miranda Claxton, ‘Gossip’ member of the National Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles

  • “I had never project managed any kind of production, having spent twenty five years as a professional orchestral musician. So when Charles invited me to manage Noye’s Fludde I was both excited and ever so slightly amazed at the sheer scale of his vision! Where would I find 500 children to form the Animal Chorus? How would I put together the orchestra, the recorder ensemble…and the venue??

    From the first moment it was clear to me that this was an extraordinary opportunity to work with outstanding professionals and discover a completely new perspective on performance with the participants.
    It was a privilege to work with Kneehigh Assistant Producer, Liz King and Executive Producer Paul Crewes, I really enjoy collaborating with different circles of the Art world, and to be involved on a daily basis with such an exciting theatre company was a dream. Seeing how Liz worked with the theatre production aspect of the project, and receiving astute advice from Paul throughout was a very new and engaging learning curve for me, whilst Director Simon Harvey brought the perfect energy to workshops and rehearsals… hard work, masses of fun and utterly transformational as children and soloists developed confidence and embodied their roles.

    Designer Rosanna Vize magically brought together the visual dimension of Noye’s world, and her relaxed confidence clearly empowered the Brookside children to plunge into creativity from day one.
    I love working with Charles Hazlewood, his vision and drive is formidable, and as a musician, the possibility to work on the project with the Philharmonia was the icing on the cake. As an ‘apprentice’ I could not have wished for more exceptional elements to bring the project together; ten years ago I could never have believed that I would be involved in something of such scale and professional high profile as a first project to manage.
    The recruitment period for the production was both humbling and inspirational…to be involved in performance from a different perspective I was deeply moved by the talent, imagination and generosity of literally hundreds of souls, all driven by the vision to create something extraordinary and unique. Rehearsals and all communications were an incredibly rewarding aspect of the experience for me…I felt as though I made hundreds of new friends from all walks of life!!

    I could write a book about all the very special people who were involved in the project, but in this moment, I feel the most important detail is to say a most heartfelt ‘thank you’ … to Arts Council England for funding the project … to Charles for the opportunity, to the extraordinary Project Noye 2014 team, and to every single person who was involved in the project, you have all added a very special new dimension to my life!”

    Ellie Velazquez, Project Manager

  • Lucy Wade, Gossip
    Questions and Answers:

    Had you experienced opera before? 
    Only through listening to my dads CD’s, I’ve never seen a live opera.  

    Had you performed before?
    I had never before sung in front of anyone other than my singing teacher so this was a completely new idea for me. I am really not a very outgoing person when it comes to performance and letting people hear me sing so it was so interesting to let go of previous worries. Everyone was so supportive that it didn’t even matter that I could barely read music! 

    What did you do in the opera?
    I was in the chorus, part of the Gossips who try and persuade Mrs Noye not to leave. 

    Did you enjoy the rehearsals?
    Initially I didn’t particularly want to spend my holidays ‘working’ but after the first day of rehearsing it became clear that it really wasn’t going to be all that bad!  It was so great to be around such inspiring and lovely people. The days went so quickly and everyone wanted to do the best they could so it was a really positive atmosphere. 

    How did you feel on the day of the performance?
    At first it felt just like any of the other rehearsal days but after costume fittings were finalised it got really exciting to know that the thing we had all put so much effort into was finallyabout to happen. It was also so impressive hearing the opera performed in the barn with the full orchestra. 

    Did you enjoy the experience?
    I feel so proud to have been a part of it and although it was obviously hard work I learned some incredibly valuable things. It felt like a lot more than just a production. 

    Did you make new friends?
    Yes, some really wonderful people. I also got closer to those I knew already which was great. 

    Would you do it again?
    I definitely would.  

    Has the project changed the way you think about opera? performing?  
    It has really opened my eyes as to how much work goes into these performances, from everyone involved not just those actually performing in them, they are just a tiny tiny part of it.  It has also made me think about possible careers which I had dismissed before. 
    Thank you very very much for letting me be involved! 

    Best wishes, Lucy Wade, Wells Cathedral School.