A children’s opera.
From the book by Richard Edwards.
Music by Derek Clark. Libretto by David Wood.
Commissioned by Welsh National Opera Limited, the opera was toured to schools in 1998/9.
The Forest Child of the title has been brought up by wild animals in the forest, who have taught her to survive.
A hunter and his son arrive in the forest. The son has no stomach for hunting and the hunter bullies him. Left on his own, he meets the Forest Child.
They communicate through song. But the hunter catches the Forest Child, takes her back to civilisation, where she is treated badly in school. She is locked in a cupboard by the Schoolmaster. The hunter’s son is determined to help her.
He runs back to the forest and manages to communicate with the wild animals, all of whom are missing the Forest Child. He leads them from the forest to the schoolroom. They pretend to be children in the school, terrifying the Schoolmaster, who is forced to give up the key to the cupboard, allowing the Forest Child to escape. The hunter’s son goes with her, and learns how to live in the forest, where he will be happy. “Deep in the forest, the animals and children sleep in a jumbled heap beneath a million stars.”
David Wood writes : This commission was an exciting one. OperaKit, part of the educational department of Welsh National Opera, toured the opera to schools as a project. They took with them three professional opera singers, three professional musicians, a director, a musical director, a designer and a stage manager. They worked with approximately sixty children, who performed as Forest Animals, Schoolchildren, a narrating choir, and musicians/ percussionists. The children were ten and eleven years old. Most of them had never been exposed to opera, and the sight of their faces when enormous, echoing voices reverberated around their school hall, was truly memorable. Derek Clark’s score is challenging, yet tuneful and accessible.
All enquiries about THE FOREST CHILD to Casarotto Ramsay Ltd.