The skills you helped us understand, like working with others and listening to opera was precious to us”. ( from a participating pupil)

 RED! Returning in late 2024/early 2025 to a primary school near you!

RED! A Children’s Opera

RED! is a one-act opera for primary school children to perform alongside professional opera singers and musicians. Co-creation is at its heart – parts of RED! are sketched out, so that the children can “colour in” with their own words, sounds and movement. It is so important to the ethos of this project that the children’s creative voices are heard. 

RED! is designed to come into schools which have had little or no access to music and to give children an immersive experience of performing an opera alongside professional, for their families and peers. The power of singing together and story-telling helps children gain confidence, encourages them to work as a team and improves focus in the classroom. 

RED! Beginnings

In 2018 Barefoot Opera’s Artistic Director Jenny Miller wanted to stage a larger scale work with children in E Sussex and commissioned Barefoot regular Lucy Mulgan to compose a children’s opera,  and RED! was born. Based on Red Riding Hood, our adaption focuses on relevant issues: standing up to bullying; finding our own independence; the power of inter-generational relationships (doesn’t everyone love their Granny?).

 Barefoot teamed up with local school Robsack Wood Primary Academy for a performance just before COVID in March 2020. Over sixty 8 & 9-year-olds took part alongside Barefoot Opera regulars Alice Privett (Red), Oscar Castellino (Wolfie), Jenny Miller(Mum/ Granny) with Lesley Anne Sammons as Musical Director and Lucy on double bass.

Further performances – UK & New Zealand

Barefoot Opera produced a second performance of RED! in July 2022 featuring 150+ children from Hollington, Ore Village and Baird Primary schools. With crucial funding from The Foreshore Trust, we were able to combine all three schools in one performance for the whole of Hastings – outside on The Stade.

From a teacher: These are kids with little or no experience of theatre. We do what we can for the  arts but resources are so limited. This opportunity offered them real cultural capital and, of course, a great time. Every child in the Year Group was involved, even the quieter ones were happy to give a performance and it was an important way of building their confidence. They loved it all, preparation, rehearsals and the performance itself.
It helped us all to understand opera not as some experience for the elite but as young and relatable.

Red! Moves Across the World

In August 2021 RED! moved across the globe to New Zealand, where it was performed by 450+ children and a 20-piece professional orchestra in a joint project with NZOpera Orchestra Wellington

NZOpera paired up in January 2024 for another large-scale production with Auckland Philharmonia – this time with another new arrangement featuring a 90+ student orchestra and 30-strong chorus. 

RED! The Future…

In 2024 / 2025 Barefoot Opera will be bringing RED!  Into more E Sussex primary schools and adding online resources for both students and teachers. These materials will help classes explore further song-writing and drama, encouraging music-making to become a regular part of every school’s activities.