A Snappy Opera is a ten minute mini-opera written for and with young people, designed to be prepared and performed in a day. This autumn the boundary-stretching Mahogany Opera Group launches its nationwide project to create ten Snappy Operas with ten composers, writers and groups of children across the country. The first of these has been developed by award-winning composer Emily Hall and writer Toby Litt with young people from Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Opera, and is called The Itch Witch.

The Itch Witch takes its inspiration from the childhood experience of head lice. A group of nits take up residence in some schoolchildren’s hair, collecting blood for their mistress the Itch Witch. The children, hypnotised by the Witch, allow them to stay and steal away their blood, until some friendly combs appear and help drive the nits away.

Young people from Jubilee Opera will be putting together the piece throughout the day, learning about all the elements of making an opera. You can pop in to see the open rehearsals for this from 10:00–15:30 , or join them as they present their final performance at 16:00.

The net value of each ticket purchased this performance goes directly to supporting the work of Jubilee Opera.

MOG logo Jubilee Opera Logo

Running Time: 30m with no interval.

Supported by Michael Tippett Musical Foundation and PRS for Music Foundation

Cast & Creatives

  • Emily Hall Composer
    Emily Hall studied composition at York University and the Royal College of Music. She has written for ensembles and orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Brodsky Quartet, Opera North, London Contemporary Orchestra, and the Hungarian Radio Choir. Much of Emily Hall's music is formed from close creative relationships with singers and writers, finding her own ways of using technology and live performance. Collaborations with Mara Carlyle, Olivia Chaney, Lady Maisery, Oliver Coates, Mira Calix and David Sheppard took Emily out of the strictly “classical” sphere. Her music has been performed in diverse spaces from Latitude Festival to Cité de la Musique and broadcast on BBC Radio 2, 3, 4 and 6 Music. Her first opera, Sante, produced by Aldeburgh Music, was described by The Times as ‘a dynamic new opera worth everyone's time and hopes’. More recently, Hall premiered Folie à Deux, a concept album/opera with Icelandic author Sjón, created with Mahogany Opera Group. Emily Hall is a member of Bedroom Community, the Icelandic record label comprising 11 different diverse but like-minded musicians from across the globe. In 2013, Emily Hall received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, in 2006 the Genesis Opera Prize and in 2005 the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award.
  • Toby Litt Writer
    Toby Litt grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He is the author of four collections of stories (Adventures in CapitalismExhibitionismI play the drums in a band called okayLife-Like), eight novels (BeatniksCorpsingdeadkidsongsFinding MyselfGhost StoryHOSPITALJourney into SpaceKing Death) and, most recently, a book of selected literary essays, Mutants. His latest book of stories, Life-Like, published by Seagull Press, was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. His story John & John won the semi-widely-known Manchester Fiction Prize, and his story Call it “The Bug” Because I Have No Time To Think of a Better Title was shortlisted for the notoriously lucrative Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. With Emily Hall, he has collaborated on a trilogy of song cycles Love Songs, Life Cycle, and Rest on the themes of love, birth and death. In 2014, Vastation, an opera with a libretto by Toby and music by Samy Moussa was premiered at the Munich Biennale. At the moment, he is writing a non-fiction book called Wrestliana, about his close relationship to his great-great-great grandfather, William Litt, a champion Cumberland-style wrestler, poet, novelist and smuggler. Toby teaches creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.
  • Frederic Wake-Walker Director
    Frederic Wake-Walker is a director, producer and curator of opera and multi-discipline arts. He has trained in Noh theatre, Gambuh and Action Theater. He is artistic director Mahogany Opera Group and runs Mica Moca – project Berlin. Productions with Mahogany include family piece The Rattler by Stephen Deazley and Martin Riley (currently touring UK), Lost in Thought – the world’s first mindfulness opera, Emily Hall’s concept album-opera Folie à Deux, Hans Krása’s Brundibár with 500 children from across the UK and HK Gruber’s cabaret opera, Gloria – A Pigtale. Other recent productions include: Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, Julian Philips’s The Yellow Sofa (Glyndebourne), a tour of Britten’s Church Parables (Russia and UK), Stravinsky’s Renard with Vladimir Jurowski (Konzerthaus Berlin) and Handel’s Jephtha (Buxton Festival). He has also directed at Scottish Opera, La Monnaie Brussels, Opera North, and Oviedo and collaborates regularly with children’s company Jubilee Opera. This autumn he directs a new production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro for La Scala Milan.