The Six Swans (2014)

The Barn Concert Hall, Leiston Abbey — Part of Storm of Stories 2014

"Absolutely superb show, wonderful singing, great acting, heavenly orchestra and choir and enchanting production. It really worked brilliantly. We went home filled with wonder." — Liz Calder, Publisher

This newly commissioned opera for Storm of Stories 2014, by composer Richard Chew and librettist Jehane Markham, was an exciting and ambitious community project bringing together students from Aldeburgh Primary and Alde Valley High schools, a locally drawn scratch choir, soloists  Robert Murray (Bob Boles in Grimes on the Beach), soprano Melanie Pappenheim, dancer Anusha Subramanyam and actor Matt Prendergast. The production also featured a nine piece ensemble drawn from Aldeburgh Young Musicians and Wonderful Beast’s own instrumentalists, conducted by the composer and the chorus director.


The three choirs had five 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 Grimm 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 & Conductor: Richard Chew

Libretto: Jehane Markham

Director: Alys Kihl

Producer: Annie Blaber

Rehearsal and Workshop Leader:

Jessica Maryon-Davies

Design and Animation: David Parker

Stage Manager: Max Wingate

Costumes: Rosemary Talbot

Props: Jane Irving

Lighting: Blackwing Lighting




Storyteller: Matt Prendergast

King: Richard Chew

Girl: Anusha Subramanyam

Young King: Robert Murray

Wicked Queen: Melanie Pappenheim





Trombone: Miguel Tantos

Violin, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, sarangi:

Sylvia Hallett

Guitar/percussion: Jack Ross

Piano: Jessica Maryon Davies


Aldeburgh Young Musicians


Flute: George Cook

Euphonium: Cameron Scott

Harp: Sarah Ng

Recorder: Finn Collinson

Saxophone: Katy Rochford


With thanks to:

Colin Virr at Aldeburgh Music

Scratch Choir


Muff Dudgeon, Annabel Franklin, Heather Hodgson, Jane Mardell

Deborah Mawson, Liz McCormick, Anthony Mehan, Lucy Rowan-Robinson

Paul Strowger, Paul Templeton, Kimberly Webster, Andrew Welch


Alde Valley School


The Brothers: Megan Harvey, Niall Lewis , Ethan Reade, Laura Robinson, Willow Sudder, Sophie Blizard, Chloe Chatten-Berry (understudy)


Chorus: Alice Bethell, Lauren Blowers, Tayla Finch, Angel Fullthorpe, Ella Hart

Lily Mayhew, Kierah Newman


Aldeburgh Primary School


Huntsmen: William Gidney, Sam Fryer

Servant: Lettie Hassett




Eve Atkins, Harry Brinded, Bo Buzzard, Isabelle Buzzard, Luke Cameron

Courtney Culf, Scarlett Fisk, Demi Fryer, Mason Gadd, Ashleigh Libby

Gabrielle Mosher, Oliver Moy, Minnie Mulumba, Patrick Neal, Sophie Ogilvie Matilda Salter, Nathan Watters


"The collaboration between professional and community performers creates a dynamic that enhances the integrity of the interpretation There is a happy ending, of course, and the refrain of the final song of the show: “Life re-arranges all that we think we know,” is sung by all the generations on stage. This creates a poignant moment. Once again the magic of story- telling reminds us of a truth we had forgotten” — Jackie Montague (In Suffolk)


“Most things I liked about it was the singing, the performances, people’s attitudes and they gave me acting skills. I would like to do this again.”  — Alde Valley School student


"So what do I think now it is all over? I know I want to keep on singing, having not been involved in anything like this for far too long. I think it was such a privilege to be part of such a fantastic opera; the music, the libretto and the superb musicians made it a truly memorable experience." — Scratch Choir member