Welcome to A King’s Ransom!

This blog has been set up to share the journey of…

Avenue Junior School

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School

Sprowston Junior School

St. George’s Primary School

…as they collaborate with Into Opera to stage the professional world premiere of A King’s Ransom a children’s opera composed by Patrick Hawes. Over 15-weeks, these primary schools will receive an immersive and empowering introduction to opera… it seemed a shame not to let those schools tell their story…..

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So, shall we begin….?

See About… for more information.

Our Bagmen Adventure

Now a few weeks have passed since the end of the project, it has given us time to reflect on this fantastic experience.

Many children were a little worried and nervous of this huge unknown world of Opera but watching their enjoyment and enthusiasm develop throughout the project has been lovely to watch. There have been children who would never have considered performing in front of people relishing their time in the spotlight and we have seen a huge increase in all the children’s confidence and self-belief. It has shown the children not to be scared of new challenges and you can’t dismiss anything until you have given it a good try. We hope that this experience will not only encourage the children to continue to explore the Arts but also to seize every opportunity that comes their way.

From all of us here at Sprowston Junior School we would like to say a massive thank you to all at ‘Into Opera’ for allowing us to be part of this wonderful adventure. The children have loved their time with you and they haven’t stopped singing yet, this will truly be an experience they will never forget.

Thank you again,

Miss Watts and Mr Ingham

Bagenderbys Crew Experience

The opera experience was one of the best experiences of my life that I will  never forget. I really enjoyed learning all the songs and dances it was really fun! I loved my group of characters the Bagmen. I made lots of really funny friends who I really miss. Natasha, Genevieve and Tom really boosted my confidence on stage and I am now doing the summer production at the garage. I was really nervous before we done our first performance and I had butterflies in my stomach, but after we had done our first scene I was absolutely fine. After all our performances were over I was really sad.:(.I would like to thank you all the people who helped us on our exciting journey, especially Genevieve, Natasha and Tom.


Opera 2018

Oh golly HELLO!

I am a Bagman and I liked being an opera person.

Wahoo! I enjoyed it ALL!

Lots of people were crying on the 2nd night but I did not but I felt like it =(

I performed very well (I think). Learning the music with Tom, our music director, and learning all the actions with Natasha and meeting everyone involved and putting on the show with help from Genevieve, our stage director person.

Seeing all our viewers and guests was really cool, when I saw my friends and my little sister and it prepared me for both performance nights. We did 2 performances each day and we did them for 2 days, so 2×2 is 4 so performances. On the premiere day it was really cool.



My opera experience was really fun. In the design group, we traced our hands and put some veins on them so they looked like trees. We put our thumbs on a ink pads and stuck them on the top of the trees  so it looked like leaves. We painted the opera t-shirts and the Bagmen wore them on stage in the performance. On Thursday, the design group watched the opera rehearsal –  it was brilliant. They did 2 performances each day;  both were amazing.


My Opera Experience

The opera was one of the best experiences of my life and one that I truly will never ever forget. I loved learning all of the songs and all of the cool dances for my group of characters. It was amazing for children like us to get the chance to perform on a proper stage with huge audiences each night. I would like to thank the whole opera team for boosting my confidence on stage :). I made lots of really funny friends who I really miss! Natasha, Genevieve and Tom especially boosted my confidence in dancing, stage directing and singing! I really miss participating in the show and I am so so grateful for having the chance to be involved in the production!


Amazing Opera!

In the design group I liked designing the costumes of super heroes. I also liked going to watch the opera for free! I liked seeing all the costumes that I made on the stage. I liked seeing all my friends on stage.

In the performing group I enjoyed singing all the songs  and singing in front of a massive audience and parents. I also enjoyed learning the other schools’ songs. I also liked that the conductor’s name was also TOM and so is my name.

Tom & Toby-Jack





All finished

With the final performance last night our opera experience has finished but will not be forgotten.  The children were tired and quite emotional as they didn’t want it to end.  They have asked how soon until we can do it again!  Any ideas how to get the songs out of my head?

Goodbye from St George’s Primary.

Sprowston Design team

In the design team we got to paint the costumes for the performers. Sprowston junior got to be the Bagmen so we used green, grey and brown shirts. We used yellow, dark green and middle green to paint the tops. For the jogging bottems we mainly used dark green.  When the performance was done the design team got to watch the dress rehearsal for free.

Performance day has arrived!

The children gave 2 fabulous performances today to our Years 2 and 3 children in the afternoon and parents in the evening.  They overcame their nerves and the performance gets better each time.  So proud of them all.

Full run through

Today we had a full run through of the whole show.  It’s great to see all the children putting all the pieces together.

We’re going to be famous!

BBC Look East came to video our rehearsals today  to show everyone how great we are already!  They also interviewed some of the children about their experiences so far.

Final week aproaches!

The Soldiers of 5C are getting really excited about rehearsing and performing at the open next week.  After a very successful rehearsal on Tuesday – where we managed to run both Acts in spite of Gethin and Lizzie being held up in London for a couple of hours and no Tom! – we are looking forward to another joint rehearsal tomorrow with some costumes and props.  Have just hung up all the ‘uniform’ jackets (in number order with all the hangers round the right way)   , lovingly designed and painted by year 6 under the watchful eye of Mrs Watt.  They look amazing!  Thank you so much for all your hard work – can’t wait to see them in action!

Year 6 Design and Paint Soldiers tunics

Having received the design brief from Michael ( lines, strokes and dots reflecting European dangerous animals) Year 6 from St Francis of Assisi, set about creating the designs to paint onto the soldiers costumes.  After a false start using thin crayons, it was quickly realised that the designs needed to be made using a  media that was going to be as near to the finished width as possible  – Textease proved useful in ICT, otherwise the children painted their designs on paper.  It was then time to transfer the designs to the costumes – a bit of a scary undertaking at first due to the fact that once the dye was applied there was not going back.  Initially we began with a small group of children, working in pairs, on one costume at a time.  This first afternoon was quite slow but allowed us to identify issues and problems (dye is easily spilled so the lower the container the better; the lightest shade of paint , the pink, needed to be used very sparingly; getting a design symmetrical is more difficult in reality than it seems!).  After this, we went into mass production… organised chaos is the best description, with different costumes at different stages of the whole process depending on whether or not the pupils were available.  It was great to see the  wide range of designs – no two costumes being identical – coming to fruition.  They may not be perfect but they were the children’s own work and every child in Year 6 had the opportunity to be involved.  When they see the costumes being worn in the Opera by the Year 5 pupils, I am sure they will be thrilled to see their costume on the stage and to know that they played a small but  important part in the  whole production.

Sandra Watt

Year 6


what the design team did…

The children worked in teams to create characters which were then projected using torches and a big sheet. The children really enjoyed seeing their work displayed in this way.
Another time, Michael asked the children to pick two contrasting adjectives. These adjectives created the basis for a ‘tree character’ . The children had to think creatively about how they would convey their adjectives in their characters. This led to an independent piece of work, where all children drew around their hand. Again, this was the basis for another tree character They had to choose their adjectives and create their character from the outline of their hand. We added details such as branches and leaves. The children enjoyed this task as everybody’s character was different. When placed altogether, we had a wonderful, weird looking forest full of very interesting looking trees!

Busy few days!

The children of 5C, St Francis, are having a well deserved break after a hectic run of rehearsals and performances.  On Friday morning we welcomed the ‘villagers’ from Avenues for a joint rehearsal in our hall. That same afternoon we continued rehearsing in one of the classrooms (as the hall was being prepared for the school Christmas fair) and had to be careful when doing our ‘stick moves’ in the confined space!

On Sunday evening we were on duty again, starring in the ‘Opera Unwrapped for Christmas’ concert in the Assembly House, alongside some really amazing opera singers! The children performed as though their lives depended on it and were rewarded by sitting right at the front, for the rest of the first half, to watch Jan Capinski, Yvonne Howard, Gethin Lewis and Christopher Turner sing some of our favourite arias (ably accompanied by Libby Burgess on the piano) – the children were literally blown away by the power of the singing! A truly remarkable evening!

Only a few hours later, on the Monday morning, we were back together with our peers from the three other schools for our second joint rehearsal. Great fun, especially when the soldiers were ‘controlling’ the moves of the villagers. We even managed to get the children out for a quick break between heavy showers! Things are really starting to come together and we just about managed to get through the last chorus where all 4 groups are singing different words and melodies. Exciting times!

Wishing Genevieve and the ‘team’ a very happy and peaceful Christmas and looking forward to the last stretch of our journey in the New Year.

Castle Gateway Display! Guest post by Miss Mallett (St. Francis of Assisi)

This is the beginning of a display using QR codes to access work done by the children from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School, based on ‘A King’s Ransom’ or links to related sites, including ‘Into Opera’.

Scan the codes below to find some readings, some pictures, and some sounds created so far.  More to come – using Scratch for Computer Science.

Feel the tension.  (Y6 Soundscape, using GarageBand)

Is something unpleasant about to happen?

Scan the code or type in the url to experience it for yourselves.


What was it really like at the time?

Find out about the History of Nottingham Castle and Robin Hood.


Hear the story.

Read by members of Year 6.


See the forest.

Pictures by Year 1.


The Legend of Robin Hood.

People have always found the legend of Robin Hood an inspiration for music and films.  Scan these codes for some examples. Do you remember the first one?

Computer Science

Year 3 have conversations between characters, Year 4 have made some flashing Treasure Chests with other effects and Year 5 have designed Games for fun.   Year 5 code to follow soon.

Year 3

Year 4


This is our opera project about A King’s Ransom; the story of Robin Hood and we are doing it with St Francis , St George’s and Avenue Junior.  Last week we went to St Francis School, we even got to have a break there!

We have been doing it for 8 weeks. We have tried so hard and after Christmas we will do our amazing performance!


(George is performing in A King’s Ransom as one of the Bagmen)

Sprowston Opera

I’m Jasmine and I’m going to tell you about the opera project. In my first week I was really worried about meeting Tom and Genevieve but I had nothing to worry about, they are some of the most kindest people I have met. There are 2 groups, there is the design team and the singing team. Tom helps us practice our voice levels and songs and Genevieve helps us do our stage rehearsals.  If you are doing this then don’t be worried.


(Performing in A King’s Ransom as one of the Bagmen)

The opera so far ….

The opera so far has been so fun. A couple of weeks ago we went to St Francis school to meet up with who we are performing with. The Villagers who are Avenue Junior are  asking the Bagmen for help which is our role Sprowston Junior. This story is also about  somebody that wants a Ransom . So the villagers try to raise a Ransom because  King Richard has been held CAPTIVE !!!!!!

The schools that we are doing it with are St Francis school, St George’s school and Avenue Junior.  Next week we will be practising our amazing, EXTRAORDINARY  Opera.  So far it has been the best play ever. I would be bored without the Opera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(Performing in A King’s Ransom as one of the Bagmen)

Great opera project!!!


The opera project is made up of 4 schools Sprowston (the bag men), Avenue .Jr (the villagers),St Georges (the masons) and last but not least  St Francis (the soldiers.)

This is Sprowston (us!) doing our second song (sad song).  We also have a happy song so we use all our emotions in our songs so far I’m really enjoying the opera and its really, really fun.


(Performing in A King’s Ransom as one of the Bagmen.)

Into opera review

For the opera so far I would just like to say what a amazing experience this is for young people all around the world. This opera project is about when King Richard has been taken hostage and to set him free every one back home will need to pay a ransom but as the people of Sherwood forest are very poor the bagmen [Sprowston Junior] need to find Robin Hood and his buried treasure. But back in the village the people have found Robin’s treasure…


(Performing in A King’s Ransom as one of the Bagmen.)




Joint rehearsal

Congratulations to Genevieve, Natasha, Tom and their team for organising the meeting of the whole company today.  Our children enjoyed developing friendship they had started with children from other schools and hearing how all the parts fitted together.

All schools join forces

Very exciting morning where all four schools joined forces to perform the whole of the first act to the composer, Patrick. It was lovely to see pupils from different schools sharing their experiences of A King’s Ransom with each other. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Our rehearsal dedicated to Children in Need

This week Sprowston Junior School and Avenue Junior School met for the first time! It’s been wonderful to hear the two schools singing together and we even started staging Act 1 Scene 4 together. We all wanted to do something for Children in Need today so in addition to non-school uniform days we dedicated our rehearsal to all the children out there who are really struggling, and who certainly weren’t spending the morning as happily as us… singing, dancing, learning and making new friends.  With those children in our thoughts, even though we had just started looking at this scene together, the children from our two schools worked really hard so that they could make this video to share something today for Children in Need. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think!