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Bessie's Wings

An opera devised with children in Lambeth, about the first African American female pilot.

Composer  
Llywelyn ap Myrddin
Director 
Tim Yealland
Designer 
Catherine Ryan

Bessie’s Wings is a new opera devised with nearly 100 children from primary schools in Lambeth, including Vauxhall, Ashmole and St Mark’s schools. Working with a team from ETO the opera will be performed at Morley College on the 22nd and 23rd June 2017. Bessie is played by soprano Abigail Kelly. A jazz ensemble will create the musical world of the show.

Bessie Coleman is a figure of huge significance in African American history. Born into poverty in Texas at the end of the 19th century she became the first black woman to gain a pilot’s license, having travelled to France for flying lessons when she was denied opportunities in the US because of her gender and colour. She went on to become a celebrity, thrilling crowds with her aerobatic displays. These stunts eventually led to her untimely death.

Our opera, devised over a series of workshops from March to June, looks not just at the circumstances of her life, but also at the segregated conditions African Americans endured in the American South at the beginning of the last century.

Accompanying the opera is a hugely ambitious art project, involving a large number of Lambeth schools, and leading to a travelling exhibition. The project is also a collaboration with the Norwich and Norfolk Festival Bridge, involving selected schools in the area.

To book your tickets call 0207 735 4535 or email the Lambeth Teaching Schools’ Alliance .

Free Art Exhibition
Ovalhouse Cafe, 52 – 54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW
2nd – 23rd June

Showing At

  1. Morley College, Lambeth
    22nd Jun 2017 - 6:00 pm
  2. Morley College, Lambeth
    23rd Jun 2017 - 2:00 pm
  3. Morley College, Lambeth
    23rd Jun 2017 - 7:00 pm
  1. Morley College, Lambeth — 22nd Jun 2017 - 6:00 pm

    61 Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7HT

  2. Morley College, Lambeth — 23rd Jun 2017 - 2:00 pm

    61 Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7HT

  3. Morley College, Lambeth — 23rd Jun 2017 - 7:00 pm

    61 Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7HT

Llywelyn ap Myrddin

Llywelyn ap Myrddin

Composer

Tim Yealland

Tim Yealland

Director

Tim has written the libretti for and directed numerous operas for young people, including Shackleton’s Cat, Silver Electra, Different and Waxwings. He has also devised many large-scale community operas for ETO, including One Day Two Dawns in Truro (winner RPS Award), and Zeppelin Dreams in Wolverhampton. Alongside the ETO production, Laika the Spacedog is also produced in 2019 by Nouvel Opera Fribourg, and performed next year at the Opera Comique in Paris. His association with Casa da Música in Porto continues with Écoute, a new piece in 2020. He was appointed MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours.

Catherine Ryan

Catherine Ryan

Designer

Cast

Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly

Bessie Coleman

Abigail studied at Birmingham Conservatoire graduating with a first class honours degree and completed her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Roles include Pamina The Magic Flute (OperaUpClose), Susanna Le nozze di Figaro (Opera de Bauge), and Ninetta La gazza ladra (Midland Opera). With ETO roles include Susanna The Marriage of Figaro, First Boy The Magic Flute, Despina Così fan tutte, Fido Paul Bunyan, Naiad Rusalka, and Cobweb A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Abigail has performed in many operas written for younger and SEND audiences including three for ETO: Waxwings, the award-winning_ Laika the Spacedog_, and In the Belly of the Horse. Abigail is grateful to the Peter Moores Foundation, ETO and Chris Ball for bursaries to further her professional development.

Showing At

  1. Morley College, Lambeth
    22nd Jun 2017 - 6:00 pm
  2. Morley College, Lambeth
    23rd Jun 2017 - 2:00 pm
  3. Morley College, Lambeth
    23rd Jun 2017 - 7:00 pm

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