Images by: Richard McDonough

Under the Hill

A new opera created with 50 students from three schools in Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire

At the beginning of July ETO spent a week devising and performing a new opera with three schools in Chipping Sodbury.

Hosted by Chipping Sodbury School, some 20 secondary school students were joined by pupils from Hawkesbury Primary School and from Culverhill Special School.

The story took as its starting-point the local Sodbury train tunnel, and its history of flooding. A girl goes missing, and her friends follow her into the tunnel, where the ghosts of the town’s past emerge from the walls – Crassus, the owner of the twelfth century market, the pilgrims who stopped in the town on their way to Compostela, Edward Jenner (the scientist who discovered the vaccination against smallpox), the vicious grammar school teacher, and finally the young men who joined up and died in the first world war.

ETO’s team included the great tenor Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, designer Jude Munden, (One Day Two Dawns and Tin) as well as composer Russell Hepplewhite and director Tim Yealland. Players from Chipping Sodbury School were joined also by cellist Rebecca Hewes and by three excellent students from the Royal Academy of Music: flautist Chelsea Cowan, cellist Lorna Davis and singer Meghan Taylor.

This remarkable collaboration was made possible by the enthusiasm of Andrea William-Jones and the staff of all the schools involved.

We are deeply grateful for the fundraising efforts of Chipping Sodbury School, and the generosity of the Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust.

Showing At

  1. Chipping Sodbury School
    6th Jul 2012 - 10:00 am
  1. Chipping Sodbury School — 6th Jul 2012 - 10:00 am

    Chipping Sodbury School, Bowling Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol , BS37 6EW

    • Limited Availability


Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts

Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts


Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts was born in Wales and read music at Lancaster University before studying at the Royal Northern College of Music with Barbara Robotham, where he received awards from the Wolfson Foundation, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Peter Moores Foundation.

Concerts have included Martinu’s Epic of Gilgamesh with the CBSO and Sir Simon Rattle, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins and the Mahagonny Songspiel at the BBC Proms, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings in Denmark, Molqui The Death of Klinghoffer and Bartok Cantata Profana with BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dream of Gerontius with the BBC Philharmonic and Vassily Sinaisky, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra with Matthias Bamert, Beethoven Symphony No 9 with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Barcelona and Birtwistle’s Angel Fighter with MusikFabrik in Leipzig.

He has worked regularly with Opera North, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Birmingham Opera Company, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, Grange Park Opera and Opera Holland Park. He made his debut in Salzburg in 2010 singing Erik in Die fliegende Höllander at the Salzburg Landestheater. He has sung at the Cheltenham, Edinburgh International Festivals and the BBC Proms.

Recent and future operatic engagements include a return to Opera North for From the House of the Dead and Hermann / Queen of Spades, Trucker in the world premiere of Turnage’s Anna Nicole at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Prince / Rusalka and Tchekalinsky/ Queen of Spades at Grange Park and Julietta at ENO.


Jude Munden

Jude Munden


Jude Munden worked as a secondary school art teacher before becoming a self employed maker and designer specialising in costume, props and puppets. She works from a workshop on a barge on the Penryn river, which she shares with her husband Alan who is also a set designer and furniture maker. Jude has made and designed work for Miracle Theatre Company, Illyria, Shallal Dance Company, Trifle Gathering, Cube Theatre, Wild West Film, Bedrock Films as well as ETO. Her own theatre company, Pipeline Theatre tours nationally.

Russell Hepplewhite

Russell Hepplewhite


Russell Hepplewhite is becoming widely known for his choral music and operas. For ETO he has composed several highly acclaimed operas for young audiences including ‘Shackleton’s Cat’, ‘Silver Electra’, and the award winning ‘Laika the Spacedog’ which has been performed more than 70 times. Alongside the current ETO revival of ‘Laika’, Opera Nouvel in Switzerland and Opera Comique in Paris have their own forthcoming productions. Russell’s musical ‘Moonfleet’ premiered at the Salisbury Playhouse in 2018; his choral music is published by Oxford University Press and Banks Music publications, and forthcoming pieces include operas for Jubilee Opera and W11 Opera.

Tim Yealland

Tim Yealland


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.

Showing At

  1. Chipping Sodbury School
    6th Jul 2012 - 10:00 am

Your Comments

  1. Please pass on my congratulations to everyone involved with the Under the Hill project. Not only was it a very slick and professional performance, but I was really impressed with the excellent chorus work as well as the many individual contributions – and all that in a week! The education department at ETO must be very justifiably thrilled.

    Said Joanna L. at 14:33pm on 9th Jul 2012

  2. I have just got back to school and want to express my thanks and appreciation for an amazing production that was vibrant, visually stunning, inclusive, humorous and powerful. The pupils were fantastic, engaged and clearly loved being part of the process as well as the performance. Work like this is a tremendous achievement as it breaks down all kinds of barriers as well as creates art that is accessible and memorable, that communicates and moves. I know that you will have worked incredibly hard, all of you in different ways, and it showed. Well done, thanks for involving Culverhill.

    Said Andrew B. (Deputy Headteacher) at 11:13am on 10th Jul 2012

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