Time is running out. You must act fast to solve the puzzle and uncover an ancient mystery. But what is that strange sound? With explorer Loki as your guide, can you decipher the words of The Oracle?

Taking an original approach to contemporary opera, The Opera House Next Door presents an immersive production of King Harald’s Saga by Judith Weir.

Part escape room, part archaeological dig, the interactive show is performed in domestic and other unusual sites. At its heart, is a desire to reach those who are unfamiliar with opera, whilst stretching the appetites of regular opera-goers.

In 2017, the debut production toured to living rooms and arts spaces across Kent. It received powerful audience feedback, described by one as “The Crystal Maze meets Grand Opera.”

It was scaled up for a special performance at The Brook Theatre, Chatham as part of the Paint The Town Festival, adapted for audiences with visual impairments.

Unusually, the array of puzzles, clues and interactive props used in the production were designed and road-tested with local community arts groups.

The Opera House Next Door has future ambitions to tour the Eastern Coast of England and Norway.

AUDIENCE RESPONSES:

‘’I’ve always felt a little overwhelmed by, and perhaps ‘unworthy’ of opera. I have to admit I’ve never been to one live, and when I’ve watched on TV, I’ve always found it difficult to follow and I end up glazing over, and then switching over! All the words seem to blend into each other and it just becomes noise rather than a story or language. However, when the opera was combined with the interactive, sensory elements of the performance, I really found myself engaged on a whole other level! I found myself actively listening to the words the singer was singing, bending my brain to properly hear and understand the words, ruthlessly searching for clues and answers for the quiz we were all doing in teams. And I surprised myself at the end, when she sang the whole piece in one go – I really had understood the story. And I have to say the whole experience has made me feel so much less intimidated by opera.”

“Thank you so much for an incredible Opera experience this evening. I am still buzzing from it. Apart from a superb and extremely moving performance, the attention to detail made it a most memorable experience for all of us. I felt like I was using all my senses to recreate a musical artwork. Brilliant, just brilliant! “

PRODUCTION NOTES:

SPARKEDECHO and Fat Lady Opera present The Opera House Next Door (2017)

Producer: Kevin Grist, Tania Holland Williams
Assistant Producer: Janet Moore
Artistic Director: Tania Holland Williams
Volunteers:
Artists: Mike Immerson Dizzy O’Dare, Cathy Robinson, Wendy Daws BEM, Liz Hayward
Show photography: Brian Slater
Music by: Judith Weir, King Harald’s Saga
Running time: 60-90 minutes

Partners and funders: Arts Council England, Ideas Test, The Mess Room, Lyrici Arts, KAB, Brook Theatre Chatham, Sunflower House Folkestone, Strood Youth Centre.