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Project information

The Rattler

'The Rattler' is a new interactive retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for families by composer Stephen Deazley and writer Martin Riley.

This new opera is being made in residence with theatres accross the country, giving local children the opportunity to work with a professional opera company.

February 2016 - December 2016

Charity information: Mahogany Opera Group

Mahogany Opera Group logo
  • Need


    We want opera to be an art-form with which young people engage.

    This isn't currently happening because of the current cold climate for opera outside the main metropolitan areas, the lack of music education in schools and the lack of local expertise in delivering high quality participatory work.

    As a result children miss out on exploring the rich and varied qualities that opera provides.


    By opening up our creative processes we believe we can inspire more children to know and love opera.

    ‘The Rattler’ is being made in residence with five regional partners in Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cumbria and London.

    Moreover, each performance begins with a series of music and craft workshops and a colourful pageant. As the festivities unfold with lively, folk-infused music, puppetry and inventive storytelling, the audience are invited to help bring this age-old tale to life.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Engage new audiences in opera, especially young people


    » Workshop the piece in residence with five UK venues including open workshops for venue staff, youth theatres and local communities and partners
    » Work with local partners to run schools performances in some areas and involve hard-to-reach children
    » Deliver a UK tour, giving 20-30 performances in ten UK towns

    What success will look like

    Demonstrate that 15% of our audience are new to opera, 15% visiting a venue for the first time, 50% are more likely to attend performance in the future through audience surveys.

    Aim 2

    Provide opportunties for young people to work alongside professionals


    » Work with local youth choirs to write and record the audience choruses and create the digital resources
    » Hold pre-show workshops before every performance, where the audience learn the key choruses and create props for the show guided by professionals.

    What success will look like

    Demonstrate the impact by analysing participant data and feedback.

    Aim 3

    Create an opera and music theatre network to enable more touring for us and similar companies.


    » Discuss with dance networks such as Dance Umbrella and National Dance Network in order to initiate a similar model for opera and music theatre.
    » Discuss with host and partner organisations.

    What success will look like

    Work with at least three venues twice as part of our Children and Young People Programme. Return to 30% of venues within 3 years.

  • Impact


    Opening up the creative process will inspire a new generation of music lovers and nurture natural talent. It will also impact the regional landscape by allowing venues to develop their contempoaray music programming in a supportive way. This project is the first step in our plans to create an opera and music theatre umbrella network to enable more touring for us and similar companies, using the success of national Dance networks as a model, which will have a signficant impact on the sector.


    The failure to attract audiences is our main risk. However, we are confident that making the show in residence with local theatres will embed the project regionally and attract new audiences.

    Our communications Manager will work closely with venue and community partners on our marketing strategies.


    Donors will receive regular updates and also invitations to work-in-progress events and workshops, open rehearsals and public performances and talks. They will receive a final report at the end of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £15,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,500 Research & Develoment Holding five open workshops in partnership with regional venues
      £2,500 Recording Costs of recording audience choruses with regional youth choirs
      £5,000 Commissioning costs Towards fees for composers and librettist
      £5,000 Interactive workshops Towards pre-show creative learning workshops where audience work create the show

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Colwinston Charitable Trust £10,000 Conditional
    Ernest Cook Trust £2,500 Guaranteed
    Thistle Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    John S Cohen Foundation £2,000 Guaranteed
    Chichester Charitable Trust £750 Guaranteed
  • Background


    'The Rattler' will tour to ten towns accross the UK in spring and summer 2016, including;
    Aldeburgh - Jubilee Hall
    Basingstoke - The Haymarket
    Lichfield - Lichfield Festival
    London - Southbank Centre and Blackheath Halls
    Norwich - Young Norfolk Arts Festival
    Saffron Walden - Saffron Hall
    Whitehaven - Rosehill Theatre


    The project will benefit:
    4,000 audience members including 1,000 hard-to-reach children who will be involved as part of our school’s programme.
    10 venues and communities who will be given the opportunity to develop a new work with an professional opera company
    10 people involved as members of the creative team - allowing them to develop their practice
    2 young emerging singers who will be given valuable professional experience.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have an outstanding record of creating work for, and with, young people. Earlier this year, our critically acclaimed national tour of Hans Krasa's 'Brundibar' gave 500 children across the UK the experience of performing alongside professionals.
    "ASTONISHING!" The Telegraph.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Director Frederic Wake-Walker

    Frederic has directed for Scottish Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne and makes his directional debut at La Scala Milan in 2016.

    Composer Stephen Deazley

    Former director of education for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Stephen is widely acknowledged across the UK as a champion of music for children.

    Writer Martin Riley

    Martin is a scriptwriter, director and performer. His TV credits include Grange Hill, Jackanory and BAFTA nominated The Worst Witch.

    Education Producer Ann Barkway

    Ann is a freelance education consultant and producer who works with organisations on developing their activity with young people.

'Brundibar' trailer

Leon Ackerley on Mahogany Opera Group’s production of Brundibár

“I’ve got a brilliant opportunity to sing in a way that I’ve never done in school. It’s really made me more confident”.