Britten 100: Noye's Fludde
A performance of Britten's opera for children is completely charming, writes Elizabeth Davis
I, like many others, occasionally go to sleep or wake up to the smooth tones of Zeb Soanes reading the shipping forecast. He hovers, in other words, around my subconscious.
So it seemed entirely appropriate therefore that he took the part of God (see below) in this production of Britten's opera for children, Noye's Fludde.
The work, which uses a text from one of the 15th-century Chester Mystery plays, was written in 1957 and premiered in Orford. But a couple of years later it was performed in St Margaret's Church in Lowestoft, Suffolk, the church to which it returned this weekend.
Martin Duncan directed a bold, brightly coloured production with a whole host of fantastic costumes (designed by Cheryl Brown and Jo Lakin), while Paul Kildea conducted. The evening was a triumph and an example of the best sort of community music-making: it was inclusive but there were no allowances made for inexperience or youth, and everyone – the audience included – rose to the challenge.
Andrew Shore was a larger-than-life Noye and Felicity Palmer stole a couple of scenes as the stroppy Mrs Noye (with her Pink Ladies-style 'gossips').
But children were at the heart of this performance – as Britten intended. The utterly charming menagerie were drawn from schools around Lowestoft while the handbells we played by children from Dell Primary School and the orchestra included members of the North Suffolk Youth Orchestra.
This production would have disarmed even the most cynical of audience members – because what's not to love about a smiling child with a meerkat on his head?