The Little Sweep / The Hiding Tree

This double bill of The Hiding Tree (Barnes) and The Little Sweep (Britten), was my third opportunity to design for Cambridge Youth Opera under creative director Caroline Coetzee. This show needed to be adaptable to both operas. We did this by conceiving the Hiding Tree as a dream within the world of The Little Sweep.

In this production, I was keen to reflect these two worlds using colour. The world of the Little Sweep, as suggested in the libretto, is very monochrome. As the story centres around children and the world in which the children live, I wanted the furniture to mimic children’s drawings by having ‘outlines’ of drawings around them. Both major set pieces (the chimney and the wardrobe) then doubled up as the set pieces in The Hiding Tree (cave and tree) by the simple addition of  fabric. The drawers of the cupboard were fixed in place to create a ‘staircase’ for actors to sit inside the cupboard.
As with Daphnis and Chloe, this production was staged in the concrete box of Fitzwilliam Auditorium, Cambridge. However, in contrast with my Daphnis set, I wanted to utilize the bareness of the space to emphasise the sparseness of the children’s nursery in The Little Sweep when it wasn’t filled with the children’s imagination. Thus, it was only during The Hiding Tree that the additions of fabric and colour were made,

All set pieces featured designed and built by me. Painting with the assistance of members of the Cambridge Youth Opera.

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