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Mark Llewelyn Evans is the founder and creative director of ABC of Opera Productions, which tours UK-wide introducing children to the stories and glories of the opera through music and storytelling. Mark is a professional opera singer who has sung the principal baritone roles for many of the opera houses and lives in Llantrisant, Wales. Mark was the winner of the Amati Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs’ Award 2019.
A short Q and A with Mark Llewelyn Evans:
1) How would you summarise ABC of Opera Classical and how it follows on from Baroque? There’s so much in this second adventure for our opera heroes. From a school trip to the natural history museum they are swished for a pit stop to The Academy where Hectic Haydn sends them immediately to Salzburg to meet the gassy genius (Windy Wolfie). Jack and Megan gate-crash a royal appointment with the Hapsburgs and the Crazy Classicals learn a new way to communicate with Bilious Beethoven. Then it’s to Paris where Jack and Megan meet the Charismatic Chevalier, an evil Queen and a magic flute that saves the day just before the guillotine falls!
2)What inspired you to write ABC of Opera books? I was about 16 when I saw my first opera at the Grand theatre, Swansea with the Welsh National opera. I had never thought of a career in the arts, especially opera, but that performance stirred something in me. In 1988 I started my study at the Guildhall school of music and Drama which was followed by an intensive year at the National opera studio, London. For over 25 years I have sung title roles for many opera houses but I have also delivered school workshops as I strongly believe that igniting children’s imaginations is one of the greatest gifts we can give. In 2016 I started my own school workshop company, ABC of Opera. I wanted the story of opera to deliver invaluable life-lessons to children through a lively exploration of the lives and music of the world’s greatest composers, whilst also building character, celebrating difference and encouraging creativity. The ABC of Opera has now delivered over 200 workshops to primary schools across the UK with remarkable results and are now working in partnership with University of Wales, Trinity St David and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
3)Tell us about some of the unique characters we meet during the story. The Academy of Barmy Composers is where history and fiction come together and that’s why the research takes me months. In Classical we meet Hectic Haydn (the father of the Classical period), Windy Wolfie (Mozart), Bilious Beethoven (Beethoven), Marie Antoinette, Tortellini Rossini (Rossini), Charismatic Chevalier (The Chevalier Saint George), Queen of the Night, The Travelling Trunk and of course our opera heroes Jack and Megan.
Think opera and young children don’t go together? Think again! This liveliest of histories introduces children to Mozart, Rossini and Beethoven and their work, in an engaging and informative tour of the Classical period. It’s all facilitated through magical time travel: best friends Megan and Jack are on a school trip in London when they suddenly find themselves whisked back in time to eighteenth century Europe. Before you can say semibreve, they are face to face with composers and some famous royals too in a hectic adventure that is packed full of musical facts and information. Illustrations by Karl Davies do even more to bring the composers vividly to life. Wunderkind Mozart is bound to emerge the favourite but expect young readers to demand more information on the featured composers and to listen to their music too. Bravo!