News: Building for the future

Friday 3 December 2010

The Royal Opera House is marking the opening of its new production facilities in Thurrock, South Essex this week with a new opera. The Purfleet Opera: _*Ludd and Isis* _uses the history of the locality on the lower reaches of the Thames as its inspiration and involves hundreds of local people performing alongside professional singers and Royal Ballet Dancers Ryoichi Hirano and Bennet Gartside and Principals Mara Galeazzi and Laura Morera. The building will be officially opened on Monday 6 December, with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in attendance and further performances on 7, 9, 10 & 11 December 2010. It has grown out of the extensive education and outreach work which the Opera House has been engaging in with schools, colleges and the wider community in the last two years.

The ROH’s purpose built Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, is part of the first phase of a £60million development – the High House Production Park – which will be the UK’s first national centre of excellence for technical skills, crafts and production for the performing arts and live music industries. In 2012 the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills will open on the 14 acre site training 16 – 19 year olds in technical craftsmanship and production skills – areas in which there is a shortage. There will also be dedicated space for independent artists and creative businesses including artists’ studios, offices, workshops and light industrial spaces encouraging small and medium sized cultural enterprises to grow in the area.

Thurrock is one of the largest areas of regeneration in Europe and the High House Production Park has emerged from the kind of partnership it would be difficult to broker in the current climate, including Arts Council East, the East of England Development Agency, the Thames Gateway Development Corporation and local authorities. The construction of the Olympic Village in East London meant that the ROH workshops in Bow, East London, were compulsorily purchased so they needed to relocate and their involvement in the High House project was crucial in fundraising. For the first time the thirty strong workforce of backstage craftspeople and technicians now have facilities large enough to construct and assemble a full set before reaching the Covent Garden stage – and the 18 metre high ceiling means backdrops can now be hung and painted vertically.

One of the first sets to be built in the new building will be for Christopher Wheeldon’s new full length ballet, *Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland*, which opens at the Royal Opera House on 28 February 2011.

The Purfleet Opera, Ludd and Isis is directed by Tom Guthrie, with composer Richard Taylor and librettist*Stephen Plaice*.
The evening starts with a Victorian fair at 6pm giving the chance to explore the High House site, which includes restored buildings of High House Farm dating back to the 16th century, before the performance at 7.30pm
7/ 9/10/11 December. Tickets £10/£5 concessions
High House Production Park, London Road, Purfleet, Essex RM19 1RJ
Tickets from Thameside Theatre Box Office: 0845 300 5264
or the Royal Opera House Box Office on 020 7304 4000.

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