After the cancellation of the planned premiere of Will Todd's community opera with Opera North due to covid-19, the project has resumed production as a film, with the orchestra and chorus of Opera North supporting community chorus and soloists from County Durham.
Written by Durham-born composer Will Todd, with a storyline by Caroline Clegg and libretto by Emma Jenkins, Song of Our Heartland was commissioned by Northern Heartlands, the Great Place Scheme for County Durham, and developed in partnership with members of local communities. It was originally due to premiere at Locomotion in Shildon in May but is now being created digitally, with different elements recorded separately under social distancing guidelines and pieced together as a 60-minute film for release in October.
Set in a town marked by declining local industry and loss of civic spaces, Song of Our Heartland is both a love letter to the landscape, heritage and people of the area, and an act of storytelling by three generations of indomitable women. It will be filmed on location at Locomotion and the surrounding area and recorded by the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North and the newly formed Community Chorus, with solo roles shared between members of the Chorus of Opera North and community participants.