Fantastic Mr Fox

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox to use Exeter schoolchildren in Northcott production

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Fantastic Mr Fox

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, an opera by Tobias Picker, with text by Donald Sturrock, tours the UK visiting the Exeter Northcott on Tuesday, March 22. The production, directed by English Touring Opera’s education director, Tim Yealland features 21 Exeter schoolchildren performing alongside a cast of professional singers.

Children from Newton Poppleford Primary School and St Nicholas C of E Junior School are taking part in the performance of Fantastic Mr Fox, playing a skulk of fox cubs and a chorus of trees.

As well as giving over 250 children across the UK the chance to perform in the opera, ETO is working with over 750 children from the same schools to compile and publish a book, Foxtales – 24 Hours in the Life of a Fox. The participating classes focus on one hour each and contribute artwork, devise a story and compose and write lyrics for a song that they will record and add to the finished book as a CD insert. The design of the book will be finished by Neil Irish, who has also designed ETO’s production of Fantastic Mr Fox.

Fantastic Mr Fox belongs to a growing library of works based on Roald Dahl’s stories and was commissioned for the benefit of the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. ETO’s performance at the Exeter Northcott is the UK première tour of the full version of the opera by Tobias Picker and stars Nicholas Merryweather in the role of Mr Fox, Fiona Kimm as Agnes the Digger and Caryl Hughes as the philosophical and tipsy Rita the Rat.

The Los Angeles Opera premièred Fantastic Mr Fox in 1998 to great critical acclaim for its sophisticated wit and comic invention – proving popular with audience members young and old alike. The Wall Street Journal praised the libretto’s ‘profound grasp of musical storytelling’, while the Frankfurter Algemeine described the production as ‘brilliant and flawless’

Tim Yealland, director of Fox and ETO’s Education Director says: “Fantastic Mr Fox is an opera that will delight and enchant audiences of every age, with music that’s both fresh and original, and a professional cast of animals, humans and machines, as well as 21 local child foxcubs and trees, all performing on a magical set of tunnels, towering walkways and dens.”

• Fantastic Mr Fox is part of ETO’s spring 2011 season, which visits 17 venues across the UK and also features operas by Mozart (La clemenza di Tito) – performed at Exeter Northcott on March 23 and 26 and Puccini (Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi) – performed at Exeter Northcott on  March 24 and 25.

(from a press release)