Britten Festival: Celebrating Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday!
An Opera by Benjamin Britten
February 14 and 16, 2013, at 7 pm
Church of St. John the Divine, 1611 Quadra Street, Victoria
With Noye's Fludde, Benjamin Britten creates an exciting new genre of community opera that brings professional singers and musicians together with amateurs and children to retell the ancient story of Noah and the Ark.
Pacific Opera Victoria Artistic Director Timothy Vernon chats with Madeleine Humer, Artistic Director of the Victoria Children's Choir about the delights of Britten's music and the upcoming production of Noye's Fludde.
Co-produced by the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Pacific Opera Victoria, and featuring the Victoria Children's Choir, Noye's Fludde is an unforgettable experience for families, young people, and opera lovers alike.
It is a rambunctious opera filled with moments of comedy, terror, stirring beauty, and reverence. Above all, it is a joyous, operatic adventure in making music as a community.
Young people work behind the scenes to create designs for Noye's Fludde. Guided by Pacific Opera Victoria's expert props and wardrobe artists, visual arts students from Victoria High School are creating the set design, while students from Glenlyon Norfolk School are making the costumes and masks for the animals in the opera.
Adapted from a 15th century mystery play, Noye's Fludde was written for a small professional chamber group, with piano, organ, professional singers, and a cadre of young musicians and singers. There are parts for expert players and for three levels of amateur violinists; there are recorders and bugles, along with an absolutely smashing percussion section of timpani, handbells, tuned "slung mugs," and a horde of other non-traditional instruments.
Professional chamber players joined a larger ensemble of musicians from the Victoria Conservatory of Music to form what is perhaps the funkiest orchestra ever, making rip-roaring storm music, evoking the transcendent harmonies of the very first rainbow, and joining the audience in glorious hymns.
Noah and his wife were played by opera singers Peter McGillivray and Rebecca Hass. POV choristers and youth were Noah's family, while members of the Victoria Children's Choir made up the exuberant parade of animals into the Ark (lions and camels and birds, oh my! and dogs and cats and marmosets ...).
Members of the POV Chorus and the Victoria Children's Choir
Members of the Victoria Symphony and Victoria Conservatory of Music Strings Program
The programme also included two other works by Benjamin Britten:
Introduction to Noye's Fludde: The video above, commissioned by the Britten--Pears Foundation, tells the story behind this enduringly popular opera and includes photos from the 1958 première performance and excerpts from the opera.
Britten's writing is so fantastic. He's telling the story of Noah's flood, using the medieval English poem, which is so funny. It's harsh and it's earthy – it's a beautiful version of something everyone knows.
He gave it this wonderful sort of medieval frame.
In the medieval period, the troupes would go around giving these mystic plays in the churches, and it would be like an ice-cream wagon. They would pull up and it would all unfold like this and up would go the tent-like thing and away they'd go; they'd don their little mustaches and give you a play – which I still find entrancing . . . Something of that must echo in every production of Noye's Fludde because that's where it comes from.
Timothy Vernon, Conductor