OPUS is a unique out of school project for 13-18 year olds from across Leeds run by Opera North Education. Members of the group receive free tickets to arts events in the city, then work with professional artists to explore these experiences and create their own work in response to what they have seen. Participants take a central role in the development of the work, meeting once a week for two terms to share ideas and experiment with new art forms.

OPUS was run for the first time in 2007 and over the course of the project members of the group experienced high quality art works and developed their creative skills by working with composers, musicians, designers and directors. This culminated in a magical promenade performance through the Grand Theatre which was developed by the group themselves.

Also in 2007, a group of 20 young people attended a diverse range of cultural events including Opera North’s Madama Butterfly and Fake/Function Thomas Schütte: Early Work at the Henry Moore Institute. Working with Opera North’s Associate Artist Richard Taylor, director Alan Lane, designer Brendon O’Connor and a range of guest artists, the group are creating their own exciting new production which will be performed in March 2008.

Through Opera North’s partnership with the University of Leeds, members of the group also had the chance to learn more about performance and costume design at a one day workshop at the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications. Group members looked at how storyboards can be used as a visual tool for bringing a story to life, and explored costume making by using paper and plastic to recreate ladies dresses from different historical periods, focusing on how materials can be used to make different shapes and styles. This was also a valuable opportunity for OPUS members, many of whom hope to go on to careers in the arts, to talk to students who are following this path and experience university life.

If you would like to know more about OPUS, please contact helen.mahoney@operanorth.co.uk.