A community opera by Richard Taylor with libretto by Stephen Plaice to launch the new Royal Opera House Production Park in Purfleet, Thurrock. The show, and the Purfleet Fair that preceded it, 100 years since it last appeared, was devised, written, costumed, designed, built and performed by members of the community in collaboration with a team of professionals: Rhys Jarman, designer, Sarah Dowling choreographer, Lea Cornthwaite, chorus master, and Tom Guthrie, director, under the auspices of the ROH education team in Thurrock, led my Matt Lane. Gabrielle Forster-Still was the show’s wonderful producer. The cast of hundreds, of all ages, including dancers, singers and actors, was led by thirteen professional opera singers and two Royal Ballet principal dancers, and several principal roles were taken by amateurs.
“The chorus excelled. Thomas Guthrie’s direction gave them opportunity for Dickensian roister as well as focussed, clear-cut choral singing. To a man, woman and child, they convinced. The final moments, as the length, breadth and depth of the extraordinary space was filled with the hawkers, quacks and sailors from the earlier Purfleet fair, were astonishing. This achievement, not only in that moment but in the year of planning, energy and commitment preceding it, must be one of the Royal Opera’s grandest.”
– OPERA NOW, March 2011