Diocesan press releases

Noah’s Ark comes to Newport!

Young singers and musicians from 16 schools across Newport will be coming together this Summer to take part in the children’s opera, Noye’s Fludde (Noah’s Ark). 

The one-act opera, by British composer Benjamin Britten, will be performed at Newport Cathedral on 16 and 17 June and promises to be a real community project, as well as a fantastic evening for all the family!

Emma Gibbins, Director of Music at Newport Cathedral, says: “Benjamin Britten was a great champion of community music-making and loved writing for children: in the opera a large children’s chorus represents the pairs of animals who march into and out of the ark.

“At the Cathedral, we share Britten’s belief in the importance of nurturing young musicians: this will be a fantastic community project, bringing children from all over Newport together to perform in the Cathedral, introducing them to classical music and sowing the seeds of a life-long appreciation of music.”

The opera, which is intended primarily for children, was first performed on 18 June 1958 and is based on the 15th Century ‘Chester Miracle Play’.  The Miracle plays were written by ordinary people for performance by local craftsmen and tradesmen and their families.

Dean of Monmouth, Lister Tonge, who will be representing the voice of God during the performances, says: “I hope people will flock into the Cathedral – like the animals into Noah’s ark – to enjoy this wonderful piece of musical fun for young and not-so-young.”

Of the solo sung roles, only the parts of Mr and Mrs Noye will be played by professional singers, all the other roles are taken by young boys and girls.

Members of the Cathedral Boys’ Choir will play Noye’s three sons, Sem, Ham and Jaffett with young girls playing their wives. Members of the Cathedral Girls’ Choir will be joined by girls from the choir of St John’s Church in Maindee to play Mrs Noye’s ‘gossips’.

Between them, the children will be representing 16 different Newport schools, with the Gaer Primary School extensively involved in the project – 60 children from the school will be joining the Cathedral Boys’ Choir to play the parts of the animals: lions, leopards, camels, dogs, cats, mice and ducks, to name just a few. Young dancers will dance the roles of the raven and the dove.

Professional musicians from the St Woolos Sinfonia, Newport Cathedral’s orchestra-in-residence, will be joined by young instrumentalists from Gwent music: string players, trumpeters and percussionists: Britten calls for various unconventional instruments to create the sounds of the storm, including tea cups suspended from a frame, hit with a spoon to represent the first drops of rain. Recorder players from Chepstow, Newport and Monmouth and handbell players from all over South Wales will also be participating. Even the audience can get involved, as the opera includes settings of three well-known hymns for audience participation.

The Gaer Primary School is also providing esteemed community artist, Pat Clifford, to create the animal costumes as part of the school’s Family Learning Programme, which offers parents and grandparents the opportunity to work along side their children at the school, learning and sharing valuable skills.

Cerian Rolls, Family Engagement Leader, at the school, says: “We currently work with over 20 families weekly in areas such arts and crafts, physical literacy, cookery and outdoor learning. The input from the families in community projects such as this is crucial to a seamless working relationship with the local and wider community.”

Artist Pat Clifford, adds: “The children are enjoying learning new skills using recycled materials”. It promises to be a colourful show!”

Performances of Noye’s Fludde will take place in Newport Cathedral on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June at 7pm.  Tickets will cost £8 for adults and £4 for children and will be available on the door.  Advance tickets are available from the Cathedral shop or can be ordered from enquiries@newportcathedral.org.uk  /  07933 627 594.