Quotes from John Bird’s column in this week’s ‘The Big Issue‘, 19/11/2012
”Hedgehog’s Home Opera is a professional production but added to by Year 5 of Fitzjohn’s Primary School in Hampstead, north London. As part of the school’s attempt to help its children engage in new creativity, Hedgehog’s Home was a rich chance too good to miss. The opera producers hope it will join the repertoire that schools use, broadening the artistic chances of children and young people to meet such a serious, thoroughly inventive form such as opera.”
I felt as if I had wondered into something quite unique, marrying education and art with social committment. The school children were wildly enthusiastic, along with the packed audience at the Conway Hall in central London’s Red Lion Square.
But where did this opera come from? What’s the story? Here it gets even more interesting. The author, Branko Copic, was a Yugoslav who fought against the Nazis in the Second World War. Hedgehog’s Home, the book from which the opera has been taken, was first published in the 1950s, becoming one of the most popular children’s stories in the former Yugoslavia.
The opera was commissioned by Susan Curtis who has a company called Istros Books, which has published an English version of the story. I bought a copy of the book and love the story and the rhyming. Beautifully designed and printed. If there are young children in your life, then I recommend that you get your copy from Istros.
Hopefully Hedgehog’s Home will find a place in the repertoire of children’s and school theatre. The enthusiasm and drive of the pupils taking part and the highly committed audience were a feast to behold. For here was a vast operation involving professionals and amateurs, musicians, stage designers, with actors mixed in, widening the children’s chances of gaining new creative skills.
WE LOVED IT. CONWAY HALL ECHOED TO CHEERS AND SHOUTS OF JOY ON A GRIM, OVERCAST SUNDAY AFTERNOON.”