Notable memoirs needed for opera

On song: Em Whitfield-Brooks, chorus leader of 509 Arts, leads an opera workshop for The Batley Variations.
On song: Em Whitfield-Brooks, chorus leader of 509 Arts, leads an opera workshop for The Batley Variations.

The creators of a contemporary opera covering everyday life in Batley are searching for personal stories to inspire the songs being written by award-winning producers.

The experiences and special moments of Batley folk that strike the right chord will be transformed into opera for the premiere, taking place at St Mary’s Social Club in November.

The Batley Variations will tell the stories of the town and its ordinary and extraordinary characters. It will feature a local cast, alongside a professional team of producers.

Created by 509 Arts and set in a cabaret environment, the opera will cover 24 hours in the life of Batley and the people who live, work and play in the town.

Olivier award-winning writer Mike Kenny is penning a libretto for the opera based on interviews and conversations now taking place.

Mike said: “We are seeking stories that will bring the Batley Variations to life – the town’s local heroes and eccentrics, special moments, iconic spaces and hidden secrets.”

The opera has been commissioned by Batley Business Association and Creative Scene and follows the success of the very first Batley Does Opera, presented in partnership with Opera North in 2016.

Theatre maker Alan Dix, director of 509 Arts, said the team had been meeting and interviewing people in Batley over the last few weeks.

He said: “Think Under Milk Wood, but with a true reflection of life in Batley.

“We had a great turnout at our taster workshop with around 40 singers in full and fine voice trying out some of the early music from the opera.

“We’re so excited to get going with the project come September.”

Rehearsals will begin in Batley on Tuesday evenings from 11 September.

People are being asked to complete a light-hearted online survey to help with the making of the show: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/batleyvariations