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Yangtze Class Trip to The Red House in Aldeburgh


Yangtze Class were given a VIP tour of Benjamin Britten’s home – The Red House in Aldeburgh – on Wednesday as they took part in a day-long workshop called An Opera in A Day.

The children took part in four workshops organised by the Curator (Isaac’s Dad) Joe Carr. The aim of the day was to find out about the process of writing and producing an opera, to learn about Benjamin Britten himself, and to compose and write the lyrics for our own mini-opera ready to perform at the end of the day.

In the morning, the children visited the Red House itself where they learnt just what a prankster Britten could be. One favourite trick of his was to wake up his houseguests in the early hours by shaking a long line of Camel Bells conveniently located at the foot of the stairs.

The second workshop was a special access-all-areas tour of the archive. Benjamin Britten was a bit of a hoarder. As such, the team of archivists have an enormous collection of artefacts they need to catalogue and preserve. We were shown the ‘deep store’ where the most precious items are kept – including the handwritten manuscripts for his operas. We were shown original documents that revealed how an opera is created – from the initial ideas to the Opening Night.

In the afternoon, we spent time composing lyrics for our opera in the very studio Benjamin Britten liked to compose in. Led by the hugely enthusiastic and energetic Mr Carr, we wrote our own lyrics about Noyes Fludde to a tune used by Britten himself.

The class was split into three teams to write the music for each scene: the building of the ark, the coming of the animals, and the storm.

The Grand Performance took place in Britten’s library to an audience of teachers, volunteer helpers and the archivists themselves. See the video and photos of the results.

It’s amazing what can be achieved in one day!

We are grateful to all those who accompanied us and supported us throughout the day. Thank you.