Community opera wins RPS award

12th May 2010

One Day, Two Dawns was chosen as this year’s RPS Music Awards winner in the Education category, from a strong shortlist including Sing Up, On the Rim of the World (a joint project also involving ETO, along with Glyndebourne, ROH and WNO Max), and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival’s Piano Phasing. The RPS citation reads:

The award goes to a collaborative project led by English Touring Opera working alongside Hall for Cornwall. One Day, Two Dawns was a musically driven large-scale community opera, reflecting the Cornish community in which it was devised and performed. The opera united a fantastically broad spectrum of participants – a flagship example of open-access musical celebration. The jury felt the whole process and performance had real educational and artistic substance, achieving an impressive balance between honouring tradition whilst saying something artistically fresh and vibrant.

Developed over an unprecedented period of 2 years (18 months of preparation, and 6 months of workshops), the piece served as a catalyst for creative work in the community, forging and developing relationships between ETO, Hall for Cornwall, and all 250 participants involved. The project was completely open-access, and united extremely diverse groups (semi-professional and amateur; able and disabled; old and young) in a single creative task. Local groups included The Works, Cumpas, Duchy Opera, New Cornwall Opera, Dalla, Imerys Male Voice Choir, Cornwall Youth Dance Company, Access Theatre, Falmouth University, as well as Poltair, Whitemoor and Curnow Schools.

Almost all the music and words were created by participants working with a professional team. All participating groups were involved in a series of creative workshops prior to May 2009. About 90 workshops in all were delivered by ETO and Hall for Cornwall.

Participants explored local themes to develop the story which was inspired by the coincidence between the sinking of Lyonesse into the sea in 1099, and the full solar eclipse visible in Cornwall in 1999. Trevelyan was the sole survivor of the cataclysm 900 years ago: he returns to take part in some contemporary Cornish battles.

This was ETO’s third large-scale community opera in the last 5 years, the other two projects being A House on the Moon in Wolverhampton, and One Voice in Doncaster and Sheffield. Both previous projects involved similar amounts of preparation and local involvement. As a touring company with a 30 year history of engaging with local communities, ETO is well placed to deliver a project of this kind.

ETO has continued to collaborate with many of the participants of One Day, Two Dawns. Future projects in the South West include a collaboration with Miracle Theatre Company and Duchy Opera, based on Cornwall’s mining heritage, as well as a project in Dartmoor Prison based on King Lear and linked to the company’s main tour show Promised End, by Alexander Goehr.

Responses to One Day, Two Dawns:
“Just to say thank you once again for such an amazing opportunity. It was such a buzz! I still carry a warm glow about the whole thing. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages!” Maurita (32, Participant)
“Perhaps it might sum up my reaction to One Day Two Dawns with the single word, wow…We were all, clearly, moved by the experience. One can only imagine what it meant to the performers also, who I fancy will take their day of appearing in One Day, Two Dawns right through their lives.” Alan Cooper, Cornish Guardian

You can see the full list of winners.

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