From left to right: Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Anna Appleby, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson

On 25 February 2022 Glyndebourne will present the world premiere of Pay the Piper, Glyndebourne’s first youth opera since 2017.

The opera has been jointly composed by the four participants of Balancing the Score, a development programme exclusively for female composers, set up by Glyndebourne to help address the underrepresentation of female composers in classical music.

Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson have teamed up with librettist Hazel Gould and designers Natalia Orendain and Joanna Parker to create a reimagining of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story. It is the first time Glyndebourne has commissioned a new work by more than one composer.

The opera will be directed by Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director, Stephen Langridge, based on the ideas and concept developed by the critically acclaimed director Sinéad O’Neill, who is on maternity leave. The young American-British conductor Johann Stuckenbruck and assistant conductor Ashley Beauchamp will work with the Psappha ensemble, specialists in the performance of work by living composers.

Pay the Piper will be performed by approximately 70 young people (aged 9-19 years) from Glyndebourne Youth Opera (GYO), alongside three professional singers. The young participants come from 47 different schools (a mix of state schools, independent schools and homeschooling) and all live within 25 miles of Glyndebourne.

Cecilia Livingston, one of the composers of Pay the Piper, said: ‘One of the benefits of the Balancing the Score scheme has been connecting with the three other composers. When the opportunity came up to compose a new work to be performed by Glyndebourne Youth Opera, we decided it would be really interesting to collaborate. During the pandemic, it’s been even more valuable to have a group of peers to offer support, advice, and inspiration. The process so far has been really rewarding, thought-provoking, energising, and fun. Working on Pay the Piper has been a delightful journey.’

Delayed by the pandemic, the production will be the first Glyndebourne show to take place in the round in the theatre’s stalls rather than on the stage. Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘You’ll get a completely different view on the theatre, a completely new acoustic. It’s an experience that may not ever happen again, but an opportunity to play in that wonderful space and just see what happens. It’s also fantastic to start the year with a youth opera that will get young people singing again at a time when opportunities for this are increasingly under threat.’

Pay the Piper has four public performances at Glyndebourne between 25 – 27 February 2022, including a ‘chilled’ afternoon performance suitable for all the family on Saturday 26 February. There will also be a dedicated Performance for Schools on Thursday 24 February.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday 3 December 2021.

Visit glyndebourne.com/paythepiper