THE HAPPY PRINCE
The Queen's Park Junior Singers' production of The Happy Prince by Malcolm Williamson took place in November 2014.
For our November 2014 production we sold approximately 600 tickets and received standing ovations each night. Judith Weir, the Master of the Queen's Music, wrote on her website “I left in an atmosphere of radiance .... and would gladly have heard the whole opera through again”. A reviewer from the British Music Society magazine concluded "The performance of the Happy Prince by the Queens Park Junior Singers conducted by Mary Phillips was as near perfect as you could wish". Finally, Christopher Webber from Opera Magazine said “The Happy Prince gave its cast and audience the real experience, direct and true”. We want to build on that success and continue this work with more young people in Brent.
The aim was to give state-school children who would not otherwise have had a chance to perform opera, the opportunity to sing and act simultaneously. The children had to work extremely hard to learn the complex music and their acting skills were developed by a director from Glyndebourne Youth Opera.
Mary Phillips, music director of Queens Park Junior Singers, conducted the opera and is a local singing teacher.
The Happy Prince was written for several solo parts and double chorus and instruments. The children and young adults were able to develop skills and confidence, not just in singing and performing, but also in managing their time, learning about commitment and team work, self discipline and making new friendships. They also had a lot of fun! Many parents were also struck by the transformation in their children, with one telling us “Everyone was transformed in all sorts of ways during the preparations and the performance. There was so much learning for my daughter; musical, social and personal.”
REVIEWS OF The Happy Prince:
" ... one had to make very few allowances for either the performers' youth or the simplicity of the setting. The Happy Prince gave its cast and audience the real experience, direct and true. There were many more glamorous events in London in 2014, but perhaps few more essential." Christopher Webber OPERA magazine. READ FULL REVIEW
"It was written for children and in this performance they brought absolutely the right sense of innocence and freshness to the work that made it come completely alive for me. ... the impact of The Happy Prince is so powerful, few would not be moved to tears. And on this occasion that was certainly the case ... I hope that this performance of The Happy Prince will be recorded, as surely this is what Williamson would have seen as the ideal performance." Andrew Toovey, Composition Tutor, Birmingham Conservatoire. READ FULL REVIEW
"On a remarkably gloomy autumn weekend, I travelled to Brondesbury in northwest London to visit Queen’s Park Junior Singers and their production of Malcolm Williamson’s opera The Happy Prince. I left in an atmosphere of radiance, particularly uplifted by the opera’s beautiful final chorus, and declaring (this doesn’t happen often) that I would gladly at that moment hear the whole opera through again ... " Judith Weir, Composer and Master of the Queen's Music. READ FULL REVIEW
In rehearsal with Freya Wynn-Jones