The Nightingale (2016)

The Barn Concert Hall, Leiston Abbey — Part of Storm of Stories 2016

"First class, very professional, beautiful music, wonderful coordination of children, adults, amateurs and professionals " — Audience Member

This newly commissioned opera for Storm of Stories 2016, by composer John Barber and librettist Hazel Gould, was an exciting and ambitious community project bringing together students from Aldeburgh Primary, Leiston Primary School and Alde Valley High schools, a locally drawn scratch choir, soloists  Omar Ebrahim, soprano Kirsty Hopkins, Robert Anthony Gardiner, Louise Moseley and dancer Richard Court. The production also featured a nine piece ensemble drawn from Aldeburgh Young Musicians and Wonderful Beast’s own instrumentalists, conducted by Natalie Murray Beale and the chorus director, Jessica Maryon -Davies.


The  choirs had six weekly rehearsals led by musician and work shopper par excellence, Jessica Maryon-Davies, with Alys Kihl, director. The excitement culminated when all the participants joined forces to rehearse at Leiston Abbey culminating in three packed performances. Thanks must go to our partner, Pro Corda, who generously provided us with the hall and all facilities.


The opera is inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. Highly dramatic, this gorgeous musical adaptation, involving stunning animation by David Parker, was superbly brought to life by all the participants and captivated audiences many of whom did not know what to expect from an ‘opera’.



Composer: John Barber

Libretto: Hazel Gould

Director: Freya Wynn-Jones

Produced by: Ann Blaber & Alys Kihl

Chorus Master: Jessica Maryon-Davies

Conductor: Natalie Murray Beale

Designer: Sarah Booth

Animation: David Parker

Movement Advisor: Richard Court

Stage Manager: Alicia Feetham

Lighting: Blackwing Lighting




Emperor: Omar Ebrahim

Advisor: Robert Anthony Gardiner

Kitchen Maid: Louise Moseley

Nightingale: Kirsty Hopkins

Mechanical Nightingale: Richard Court



Guitar: Jack Ross

Cello: Jonathan Rees

Violin: Roma Tic

Accordion: Miloš Milivojević


Aldeburgh Young Musicians


Flute and piccolo: Millie Clark

Clarinet: Annabelle Cooke

French Horn: Georgia Dawson

Double bass: Eleanor Roberts

Percussion: Acer Smith


With thanks to:

Colin Virr at Aldeburgh Music

Wonderful Beast Singers

Katie Boult, Muff Dudgeon, Jane Mardell,  Anthony Mehan, Deborah Mawson,

Lucy Rowan-Robinson, Paul Templeton,  Andrew Welch


Alde Valley School


Aldeburgh Primary School


Leiston Primary School

"I  would not be here today working as a  professional in the performing arts, if it were not for projects like the ones Wonderful Beast are giving kids the chance to be involved in."    — Richard Court (Mechanical Nightingale)


"Being part of Wonderful Beast’s production of The Nightingale was brilliant! Thank you very much to the Wonderful Beast team and to AYM for opening this door for me."   — Millie Clark, AYM, age 12


"I have never really had a chance to do stuff like this before." — Leiston Primary School Student