25 Sep

Six AZBUKA children had roles in Opera Holland Park’s ambitious Queen of Spades this August 2016

Six AZBUKA children had roles in Opera Holland Park’s ambitious Queen of Spades in August, experiencing the thrill of taking part in top quality opera, learning how to work with professional performers – and even teaching the singers a few things about Russian pronunciation!

Opera Holland Park asked the AZBUKA Foundation to provide help for its new Russian language production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece at Holland Park in Kensington, recognising our skill in bilingual teaching including through the use of the performing arts.

It offered a valuable partnership of our different skills, with the chance to bring together friends, parents and supporters of the Foundation in the prestigious west London venue.

The children who volunteered showed great interest in Pushkin’s version, reading or hearing the story and watching film versions to prepare. They took part in six rehearsals, becoming particularly engaged when the dress rehearsals began with music and props. Friends and family attended, and they were given stage mums and nannies.

They enjoyed teaching the cast pronunciation of some Russian words, and loved their costumes, their parts and the life backstage.

Then, they took part in 8 performances during early to mid August in the canopied open air venue in front of Holland Park mansion, including a VIP evening that helped introduce AZBUKA to guests including the current Russian ambassador to the UK and the former British ambassador to Moscow.

The Opera was widely reviewed as a critical success by the Guardian, the Times, the FT, the Telegraph and others.

The children said afterwards that they missed their time in the opera, and have kept singing the music and the songs afterwards. They will keep their memories of Queen of Spades for a long time.

Andrew Jack
Photography: Robert Workman
The Queen of Spades, Opera Holland Park 2016