The Royal Opera House and award-winning performing arts charity Streetwise Opera are delighted to once again join forces to announce a seven-week Covent Garden residency this summer. Together, the two organizations will deliver weekly workshops at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre for up to 30 people aged 40–75 who have been affected by homelessness, beginning in June 2019. The residency will culminate in a free lunchtime performance in the Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House on Friday 2 August 2019.
Paul McGrail, a performer with Streetwise Opera, said: ‘It’s an honour and a privilege, besides being just a sheer delight, to go back to the Royal Opera House. Just going into the building is very special. It brings a bit of a buzz.’
Programme participants will have the opportunity to explore Barrie Kosky's all-singing, all-dancing production of Bizet’s masterpiece Carmen, which returns to The Royal Opera for its second UK revival this summer. Upon completion of the project, Streetwise Opera will continue its weekly programme of workshops at the Southbank Centre, where it has been based since 2017.
Hannah Conway, Artistic Director of Streetwise Opera, said: ‘It is a joy for Streetwise Opera to collaborate with the Royal Opera House. It will be very special to witness how The Royal Opera’s world-class artists can affect our performers and their lives, while our own performers enrich their artistry within the Royal Opera House.’
Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said: ‘The ROH is delighted to reignite our valued relationship with Streetwise Opera. We look forward to welcoming them into our new spaces and exploring together the stories of our stages.’
Streetwise Opera’s relationship with the Royal Opera House began in 2000 before the homeless charity was formally established. Matt Peacock, a former homeless support worker, joined forces with residents from The Passage (a homeless night shelter in Victoria) and the Royal Opera House to run a 12-week pilot project. The result was a performance of The Little Prince in the then-newly-opened Linbury Studio Theatre (now the Linbury Theatre).
The pilot project saw many of the participants gain in confidence, and it proved that there was an identified need for work of this kind. Following its success, Matt Peacock founded Streetwise Opera in 2002. Since then, both organizations have collaborated on numerous occasions, most notably With One Voice, which saw 300 people with experience of homelessness come together from around the UK to showcase their talents as part of the London 2012 Festival. This was the first time in history that an event involving homeless people was part of the official Olympic celebrations.