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Dalia - A Community Opera © Garsington Opera i
A new "People's Opera", performed by over 200 amateur and professional participants, which tells the story of a refugee Syrian girl who triumphs over adversity to follow her dream: a story which champions diversity through music to highlight what makes us all human.
Dalia, a new opera by composer Roxanna Panufnik, librettist Jessica Duchen and director Karen Gillingham, has been commissioned by Garsington Opera to engage local participants of all ages and diverse backgrounds, emerging artists and new audiences in a creative community opera.
The objective of the project is to use music and drama as tools for social integration over three years (2021-2023) in our diverse local communities, uniting participants to work together across perceived boundaries of race, faith, age and rural locality. This builds on a proven format of projects, successfully delivered in partnership with 16 local state schools and evaluated over the last 10 years at Garsington Opera.
The opera, premiering in summer 2022, is an original story, developed in close consultation with refugee organisations, sports charities and practitioners. The central character, Dalia – a young girl of 12, arrives in Britain as a refugee from Syria having lost her family in traumatic circumstances. Fostered by a local family, she discovers a passion for cricket. She follows her dream but must contend, however, with racism from the community, battle her demons and make an impossible decision upon discovering that her mother is still alive.
Musically, the opera draws on Syrian folk and traditional music. An orchestra of 25 players will work together with over 180 local participants and 5 professional singers, conducted by Douglas Boyd.
Diversity is at the heart of this project, from its female creative team to the subject material and performers. Casting of professional singers will reflect this, ensuring that they are representative of the rich cultural diversity within the local participants, with the role of Dalia selected from the young amateur performers of the Youth Company.
The inclusion of sport as a topic of this opera will mobilise other communities not usually associated with performing arts. This will be an active part of our audience recruitment strategy.
A vital component to the success of the project is the subject material: the story of a refugee girl finding her voice. Therefore, there are many nationalities and backgrounds within our teams, reflecting our aim for the organisation to reflect the diversity of its participants at every level of the project. Similarly, the breadth of organisations with whom we have consulted and partnered is far beyond the arts industry, allowing us to learn from other charities who share our social aims.Street Child UK- a sizeable charity that organises cricket for street children around the world ‘Mo’ Sattar - Mo is a black South African former professional cricketer, now working in marketing and living in Munich Sarah Fane - Director of MCC of Lord’s Cricket Ground. Previously director, Afghan Connection, a charity working with young Afghan refugees in cricket Nina Kaye - Works for 'Refugees At Home'. Has housed refugees from Syria & Afghanistan in her family house
Refugee & Activist