Town hails huge response as ‘Batley Does Opera’

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Nearly 300 people turned out for one night of opera in Batley.

The seats of the Central Methodist Church were packed with people there to watch 110 local performers take the stage alongside professionals from Opera North in Batley Does Opera.

Creative Scene, the community arts project at the centre of the event, producer Rebecca Legg said: “It was amazing to see these performers aged nine to 75 perform their own songs inspired by the professionals.

“For most of these participants this was the first time they had ever seen an opera, let alone sing one.

“This is really at the heart of what Creative Scene is looking to achieve – not just making art accessible but making it a part of everyday life.”

“We wanted to make sure it was special - from visiting Leeds Grand to see a full length performance, to working alongside professional singers and conductors from Opera North.

Batley does opera.

Batley does opera.

“I’m hoping we’ve helped to change the minds of people who thought opera wasn’t for them.’’

The event was the brainchild of Batley Business Association’s Andrew Marsden, who worked with Creative Scene through its SceneMakers programme, which aims to get local people involved in the creation and curation of local arts events.

He said: “From beginning to end this has been an amazing experience.

“Words can’t quite describe the feeling I got on the night, as the crowd were seated, the piano started playing and the show began. Batley was doing Opera! And, you know what, did it brilliantly.”

The event was organised by Creative Scene in partnership with Leeds-based organisation Opera North and the Batley Business Association.

The evening included performances from Acorn Productions, Batley Community Choir, Sarah Taylor School of Dance, Batley Parish School and Carlinghow Princess Royal School, who all had a series of workshops with professional composer Omar Shahryar to prepare for the big event.

Opera North director of education Jacqui Cameron said: “We were thrilled to be approached by Creative Scene with the idea of bringing opera to Batley.

“It’s been wonderful to share in the engagement and excitement so far, in workshops and during the group visit to our main stage performance in Leeds.”

Creative Scene is an arts and social change initiative funded by Arts Council England.

It was established to engage new audiences and participants in the arts in parts of the UK where existing involvement is significantly below the national average.

Funding for Creative Scene is secured until September next year.

The project anticipated generating further funding for the and a spokeswoman said it hoped to “fulfil a longer-term vision to create a permanent change in the way the arts contribute to the quality of life for people in North Kirklees”.

Creative Scene and Opera North intend to organise something bigger and better for next year.

If you are interested in getting involved in a future Batley opera project contact Rebecca Legg on Rebecca@creativescene.org.uk.