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New 'Batley' Opera Seeks Local Stories
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Em Whitfield-Brooks, chorus leader (pink spotty shirt) of 509 Arts, leads recent opera workshop for The Batley Variations, at St Mary’s Social Club in Batley
A new contemporary opera about life in Batley is seeking personal stories to inspire songs being written by award-winning producers.

The thoughts, experiences and special moments of Batley folk will be transformed into opera for the premiere, set to take place at St Mary’s Social Club this November.

The ‘Batley Variations’ will tell the stories of the town and its ordinary and extraordinary characters.

Artist Donna Ramsden, from Batley, takes part in the Batley Variations opera workshop
It will feature a local cast, alongside a professional team of producers, and has been created by 509 Arts. Set in a cabaret environment, the opera will cover 24 hours in the life of Batley and the people who live, work and play in the town.

Olivier Award-winning writer Mike Kenny is writing a libretto for the opera based on interviews and conversations now taking place.

Mike said: “We are seeking stories that will bring the Batley Variations to life - the town's local heroes and eccentrics, special moments, iconic spaces and hidden secrets.”

It will be directed by Alan Dix and composed by Richard Taylor, the winner of two UK Theatre awards.

The opera has been commissioned by Batley Business Association and Creative Scene and follows the success of the very first Batley Does Opera, presented in partnership with Opera North in 2016.

Theatre maker Alan Dix, director of 509 Arts, said the team had been meeting and interviewing people in Batley over the last few weeks: “Think Under Milk Wood, but with a true reflection of life in Batley.

“We had a great turnout at our taster workshop with around 40 singers in full and fine voice trying out some of the early music from the opera. We’re so excited to get going with the project come September.”

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Rehearsals begin in Batley on Tuesday evenings from 11 September. People are being asked to complete a light-hearted online survey to help with the making of the show: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/batleyvariations

The survey takes just a few minutes to complete but will really help the team pull out what makes Batley tick.

If you are interested in performing or helping out in any way including with production or front of house email: info@509arts.co.uk or more information about the project at: 509arts.co.uk

New 'Batley' Opera Seeks Local Stories, 6th August 2018, 14:12 PM