Bury St Edmunds: New youth opera group is being launched

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

A youth opera group which may be rolled out nationally is being launched in Bury St Edmunds.

Co-Oper8 – which aims to ignite youngsters’ enthusiasm for opera – has been set up by the London-based professional opera company Co-Opera Co, which is run by Kate Flowers and Paul Need, who are artistic director and general manager respectively.

It is aimed at eight to 18 year olds, with a view to giving them a professional level of training throughout the school year, starting this September.

There will be free taster workshop sessions at the Apex in Bury on July 27.

Opera singer Ms Flowers said her passion for the genre was sparked at the age of 14 when she performed in a production of Aida with the Cheshire Youth Choir.

This experience was a major turning point from which stemmed a professional career as a soprano.

Ms Flowers, who is the daughter of a farmer, but whose mother was a singer on the radio, said: “I always used to think opera was for toffs; people who wanted to be seen to be there rather than enjoying themselves. I never thought opera was exciting to be in or anything.”

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She said the purpose of Co-Oper8, which is being launched in partnership with the Apex, was to capture a spark a young person may have for being on the stage.

“Someone may have said ‘you have got a good voice’ or they will have a feeling they really want to be on the stage. It’s about giving them the opportunity to explore – not just opera, but their voices on the stage, and work with people who are actually out there doing it, really highly-professional people, so that they get that spark.”

She said she and Mr Need realised before young people went to college there was not really the opportunity for them to get this level of training in performing arts which also gave them stage experience.

Co-oper8 is thought to be the only youth opera group in the local area.

Ms Flowers said: “This is the start of something for Bury. Once we know this works – and we are absolutely sure it will – we will roll this out around the country.”

She added: “I love Bury. I think with these two theatres there it’s brilliant and a lovely part of the country.”

There will be 30 workshops over the year, with a two-week summer school next year culminating in two performances of a professional opera production at The Apex.

Ms Flowers said they want to drum up interest for the workshops. People can find out more information by visiting www.co-opera-co.org

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